Toyota has been the reigning king of the hybrid automotive segment pretty much since they introduced the Prius over a decade ago. Speaking of decades the question for a little while has been what is next for Toyota, especially with the introduction of the Chevrolet Volt and all-electric cars like the Mitsubishi “I” and Nissan Leaf that we have been reporting on for months now. Toyota isn’t one to leave the industry or their consumers hanging—especially with controversy they faced earlier in the year. In November, Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) introduced the details for their “eco-car” plans.
The plan as reported in the recent TMC press release outlines five different areas that the company plans to develop over a five-year period. It isn’t a surprise that the first area is the hybrid vehicle segment. The plan for hybrids includes the introduction of 11 models by the end of 2012. Of course, some of these 11 models will be redesigns, but there are also plans for the introduction of new models—one in particular being a compact car with class leading fuel efficiency.
Next up, is the plug-in hybrid segment—a segment that has been getting a lot of attention with the introduction of the unique Chevrolet Volt. We know that the plug-in version of the Prius is out being tested with the media (see the ASC report) and according to the press release it will be available to the public early in 2012. Toytoa is targeting sales at more than 50,000 units annually. From out earlier report, we still wonder if the significantly less electric range of the Prius plug-in hybrid will be able to compete against the all-new Chevrolet Volt.
The last three sections of the 5-year plan include electric and fuel cell vehicles and the development of the next generation of secondary batteries. The anticipated EV is the iQ with anticipated road tests in Japan, Europe and the U.S. starting in 2011. On the fuel cell front TMC is continuing to develop fuel cell hybrid vehicles with sales targeted for 2015. Of course, at the heart of most of the hybrid and electric vehicles are batteries, a segment TMC is dedicated to researching. In fact, in January 2010, TMC created a division charged with studying production of next-generation batteries. Stay tuned for the next revolution of batteries.