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Toyota Chairman: Soon 20 Percent of Cars Will Be Hybrids

By Matthew Askari | March 10, 2014
Toyota chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada, the man often referred to as the "father of the Prius," says one out of five cars will be a hybrid pretty soon. The executive told Automotive News Europe he predicts the current 13-14 percent global market share will soon climb to 20 percent. Toyota is the leader in hybrid technology with the Prius liftback, which commands a 25 percent share in the U.S. But new rivals threaten Toyota's dominance, including recent entries from General Motors and Honda. While hybrids have a considerable presence in the U.S. and Japan, they still represent less than 2 percent of the European market. Europeans have long favored diesel passenger cars, which are often more efficient than hybrids, and cost less. Despite this, the Volkswagen Group is planning a plug-in hybrid offensive. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, chief Audi product planner, told us last summer that the group was committed to the technology, and saw it as the future until pure EVs had much longer ranges, and economies of scale rendered batteries, electrical motors, and components far cheaper than they are today. Just last week in Geneva, Bentley CEO Wolfgang Schreiber said the luxury marque -- part of the Volkswagen Group -- would have a plug-in hybrid model on its new SUV, scheduled to hit the market in 2017. Uchiyamada said he didn't count plug-in hybrids as part of his forecast for hybrid growth, and still believes plug-ins are too expensive. "Suppliers need higher volumes to slash costs of components specific to plug-in models, including batteries that should be bigger and more capable than the ones used in traditional hybrids," he said. At present, of the 25 hybrid models Toyota and Lexus sell collectively, only one is a plug-in hybrid. Source: Automotive News Europe (Subscription required)
 
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