The proportion of hybrid vehicles on the road globally will reach 20 percent “soon” according to Toyota chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada.
Hybrids already enjoy mainstream acceptance in Japan and North America, but only make up a sliver of sales in Europe where diesel is more popular. That remains the case there because customers can buy a diesel-powered vehicle that will offer as good or better fuel efficiency than a hybrid at a lower price.
Currently, hybrids only account for about two percent of sales in Europe. Toyota sold more vehicles under its Prius nameplate in the U.S. last year than the combined number of hybrids sold in Europe during the same time.
Uchiyamada’s forecast doesn’t include plug-in hybrids. Volkswagen Group is planning to rely heavily on plug-in hybrid powertrains in many of its brands ranging from VW to top tier upcoming products from Bentley. Plug-in hybrids are still too constrained by high production costs associated with low sales volumes, Uchiyamada told Automotive News.
However, hybrids did enjoy a big sales increase in Europe last year. The number of hybrids – including gasoline hybrids, diesel hybrids and plug-ins – leapt by more than 40 percent last year.
Toyota is expected to release its next-generation Prius sometime in 2015 with significantly better fuel economy and a long list of technological upgrades. It will ride on a new platform, enjoy improved fuel efficiency and wireless charging for plug-in models.
[Source: Automotive News]
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