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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.

toyota.co.uk

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