Toyota drives forward with greener models

Car manufacturer Toyota has achieved record sales of its hybrid vehicles, which it sees as crucial to the company's future

It was the first out of the blocks in developing hybrid vehicles - and now Toyota seems to be reaping the benefits.

The car manufacturer has reported record European sales of its hybrid vehicles, allowing it to ramp up its efforts to develop greener, more efficient models. The European arm of the company sold more hybrid vehicles than ever in 2010, despite the fallout of the recession causing problems for the automobile sector. More than 70,500 were shifted - up 29% from 2009.

There was huge demand for the Auris Hybrid car (15,237 sold), which is made in Derby and emits 89g of carbon dioxide per kilometre. The target is to sell around 30,000 units this year.

Crucial to the company is the fact that more and more customers no longer regard green cars as a niche; so much so that Toyota now sees hybrid vehicles as the backbone of its future vehicle development programme.

By 2020, the Japanese company will launch hybrid versions of every one of its models. And it will start selling plug-in hybrids and all-electric models next year, while the launch of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will come in 2015.

Toyota recently unveiled the Prius V, a five-seater car aimed at the family market. It is a version of the classic gas-electric model, with almost 60% more cargo room. According to the company, the launch is a direct response to customer feedback.

"Consumers have told Toyota that they love the idea of the Prius - high fuel-efficiency, low emissions, advanced technology - but the vehicle selling today doesn't fit their lifestyle and needs," says Doug Coleman, Toyota's product manager.

This could be the answer, with all the versatility and comfort of a family hauler, while delivering city mileage of 42mpg and motorway economy of 38mpg.

And there is also the smaller Prius C Concept, designed for city drivers.

These models are likely to land in Europe soon, but the company is keen to build on its reputation on home soil too.

It has pledged to work with 12 other Japanese car manufacturers and fuel cells suppliers to support the national roll-out of fuel cell vehicles (FCV) in Japan, beginning in 2015.

Companies, including Nissan and Honda, are working hard to dramatically cut the costs of manufacturing fuel-cell cars ahead of their widespread adoption in Japan. It is thought that 100 hydrogen fuelling stations will be built in Tokyo, Nagoya, Fukuoka and Osaka by that time.


| gas | hybrid | hydrogen | recession


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