Hybrids at Heart of Toyota’s Powertrain Future

Hybrid vehicles have a long way to go as a pivotal part of Toyota’s long term powertrain strategy.

That’s the opinion of Sophie Ogunbiyi, manager external affairs Toyota Europe, who we spoke to at the Cenex LCV2018 at the UK auto industry’s testing facility at Millbrook, Bedfordshire.

Ogunbiyi said the carmaker sees a future with many different powertrain solutions. She said: “In terms of Toyota’s vision for future mobility, we see a role for a range of different technologies with no one particular technology having dominance over the others.

“In this way we see a full and current role for our hybrid self-charging vehicles – this is a full, not mild, hybrid system and our studies at the moment are showing that our hybrid vehicles can travel for significant periods of time and distance using zero emissions. This shows that, in terms of air quality, there is a fundamental importance for hybrid technology now and continuing into the future.

“Of course, we continue also to develop plug-in hybrid vehicles which give the option of charging at home or work while still being able to cope with longer distance trips.”

When asked whether the ever escalating noise coming from the BEV lobby will make the automaker change course, Ogunbiyi re-iterated: “We see this as being a mix of technologies but with hybrid as the core because its components go into the other forms of powertrains. We are developing, in smaller numbers, all-electric vehicles and have produced fuel cell technology which we see will become more viable for the future. Where we may differ from some of the other vehicle manufacturers is that we do still see a very important role for hybrid.”

Naturally, the Japanese government’s pledge that cars sold told the home market will be dominated by hydrogen fuel cell technology, in line with its nationwide energy storage policies, will inform Toyota’s home market strategy but, said Ogunbiyi, it will not affect products sold to the many differing global markets.

She said: “We build vehicles for what the consumer wants and needs and we look at these needs and we believe there is the right car, in the right place at the right time. At the moment there has to be more infrastructure in place to support the role out of mass adoption of battery electric vehicles so, right now, hybrid technology offers the best solution in terms of short, medium and long distance driving. Also it’s affordable and that’s another key aspect to consider and is effectively the democratization of current vehicle technology.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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