Toyota Plans for Major Hybrid Growth in U.S.

At last year’s Detroit Motor Show, Toyota vice president for U.S. sales, Bob Carter, offered a bold prediction for the direction his company plans to take in the United States over the next decade―and for the country’s vehicle market in general. “We will end the decade with Prius being the number one nameplate in the industry,” said Carter, predicting that the Prius would soon overtake the Camry as the company’s most popular model in the U.S.

Almost a year later, it has become increasingly clear that Toyota’s big talk about hybrids is no greenwash. After almost single-handedly growing the hybrid market from obscurity in the United States, Toyota now sees hybrids primed to conquer the mainstream―and has no intention of ceding its dominance in the sector.

According to a report in Automotive News, Toyota plans to as much as double the number of hybrids it sells in North America by 2015, to 400,000 vehicles per year. Top executives at the company told the publication that Toyota will seek to greatly expand its manufacturing base here―particularly hybrid drivetrain components―in an effort to reduce its reliance on the Japanese supply chain. Growing the American hybrid market will do a great deal to make that shift possible, and Toyota is in the process of radically expanding its U.S. lineup to include more than a half-dozen hybrid models by the end of next year―with even more reportedly on their way.

“Hybrid technology is a trump card for fuel-economy improvement,” said Toyota global research and development head, Takeshi Uchiyamada, in the article.

Toyota also told Automotive News that it plans to complete work with Ford on a brand new hybrid system for pickup trucks by the end of next year. The first Toyota vehicle to be outfitted with the drivetrain will likely be a hybrid version of the Tundra, the carmaker’s largest and most fuel-thirsty pickup, with a combined rating of just 16 mpg.

Even a few miles-per-gallon improvement in a truck like the Tundra will pay big dividends in terms of its operating cost, which could make the car a hit among the fleets and private businesses that make up a substantial portion of the pickup market. Ford’s F-150 EcoBoost model has led all F-150 models in sales this year―accounting for 40 percent of purchases―thanks to its EPA-rated 22-mpg fuel economy.

By expanding its gas-electric offerings across more and more segments, Toyota will be able to grow production of hybrid components, allowing it to reach the economies of scale necessary to diversify its supply chain in the Americas. For hybrid buyers, the important takeaway is that Americans can expect more models and shorter waiting periods in the coming years, as the gas-electric leader seeks to broaden its hold on the market.

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  • Van

    I would guess the half dozen excludes the Lexus line of vehicles, so lets see:
    The Prius will come in four flavors, regular, large, small, and plug-in.
    The Camry hybrid will still be available.
    The Tundra will make six.

    So the question is does the claim include the Prius PHV as a separate hybrid?

    If not, then perhaps a Corolla hybrid or a Tacoma hybrid may be in the works. Time will tell.

    And if the Plug-in does not count, could a plug in option be in the works for Camry, the trucks and perhaps the Corolla?

  • hybridhybrid

    corolla hybrid will be a good idea but there is already the cheaper prius C. i’m thinking more of a truck hybrid. seriously, i’d really love to see toyota utilizing the hybrid system in the 4runner

  • Impatient

    Where is my f*#%ing Rav4 hybrid?

  • Mr. Fusion

    C’mon Toyota…make the hybrid truck thing happen…this time.

    First it was the FTX
    Then the ABAT

    You going to come through this time or if gas comes down a bit are you going to keep teasing us and pull this one as well?

    I would’ve had the FTX paid off by now if it came out when it was supposed to…

    We’ll see next year.

  • used cars Louisville dude3

    I think a hybrid Tundra would be great, it seems like they’re making hybrid engines now that can produce enough HP and torque to make it a great truck.

  • JakePDX

    I have to agree with Impatient. Wasn’t the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid supposed to arrive this spring 2012?

    The Prius and Prius V are great but our family needs a small hybrid SUV because of the higher ground clearance, all-wheel drive, and light towing capabilities.

    I know the RAV4 EV is coming out next year, but has anyone heard any new news about the hybrid RAV4 since this 2010 article?

  • darkthanatos

    4×4 or AWD and serious ground clearance would be great for the Rocky Mountains!

  • ilikflhyb

    I think it’s great that Toyota is planning much more hybrid penetration. I’m on my 2nd Prius and love it. But, they must be careful with price. Prius v starts at $26.4k, Camry and Rav4 start close to $22k. I’ll bet these 3 are cross shopped. But, $4.4k is a chunk of money. Hybrid fans will spend more, but most drivers are not hybrid fans yet. Perhaps mfr. some Prius in US will bring the cost down a little.

  • Toyota Hybrids Pittsburgh

    I’ll say yes to such plan and hope to be realized soonest.

  • Charles

    “I know the RAV4 EV is coming out next year, but has anyone heard any new news about the hybrid RAV4 since this 2010 article?”

    No news in regards to a Rav4 Hybrid:
    Thank you for contacting Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

    We appreciate your interest in the Toyota RAV4.

    Toyota has not yet announced plans to produce a hybrid-powered version of the RAV4 SUV. However, this does not guarantee that such a vehicle is not in development. We have become aware of public interest in a hybrid RAV4 through communications such as yours, and we will make your email available here at Toyota’s national headquarters for review by the appropriate parties. Your feedback will be helpful as we plan future vehicles to better serve your driving needs.

  • AssuntaBrust80

    Great news about the hybrid cars. I will check back for future updates. Thank you.
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  • tapra1

    the United States over the next decade―and for the country’s vehicle market in general. “We will end the decade with Prius being the number one. Technology Review

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