Toyota won’t commit to plug-in hybrids.
Toyota won’t commit to plug-in hybrids.

Toyota says no to plug-in hybrids

Toyota Australia is doubling down on its commitment to petrol-electric hybrid vehicles without using a power plug.

Toyota Australia vice-president of sales and marketing, Sean Hanley, cites the convenience and normality of the company's current hybrid models as a major factor in their popularity with private buyers.

The Camry hybrid accounts for almost half of all sales, while the petrol-electric Corolla represents about 40 per cent of volume after its first two full months on sale.

"Hybrids are taking off because they're a normal car. You can just get in it, fill it up (with petrol) and drive it. It's convenient, it's reliable, it's now powerful, it's fuel efficient, it's environmentally more friendly than a conventional petrol or diesel car and you don't have to do anything," Hanley says.

Sales of the Corolla Hybrid account for about 40 per cent of sales.
Sales of the Corolla Hybrid account for about 40 per cent of sales.

"You don't have to worry about charging it overnight, with the mobile phone, with the electric razor … with everything else you have to charge overnight.

"There are advantages of full electric plug ins and the news I can give you is this: we will not only have the greatest hybrid technology available in Australia … we will also lead and pioneer hydrogen technology, which I believe is kind of a progressive future … and probably at some point we'll have a plug-in car.

"I understand the environment advantages (of plug-ins) I just think it is one option of many options to come. "I haven't ruled it out. I just don't think from a normality and convenience perspective plug-in right now is the only solution _ it's one of three."

Hybrids are the most popular Camry.
Hybrids are the most popular Camry.

Hanley refuses to confirm or deny that Toyota Australia's "plug-in" hybrid will use an inductive charging pad rather than a conventional power point, yet a glance online at Toyota's official websites indicates that is the preferred option for the Japanese brand.

Toyota Europe research and development guru Dr Ivo Teerlinck is involved in developing a global standard for wireless charging applicable to all electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, dubbed SAE J2954. A "recommended practice" establishing the methodology for the standard was released late last year, indicating the public roll-out isn't too far off.

"Wireless charging of an electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid is not a dream," Teerlinck says on the Toyota Europe blog.

"Electricity is transmitted by magnetic induction between the transmitting coil on the ground and the receiving coil in the car."

"This technology is a crucial step forward to cable-free electro mobility."

The new Toyota RAV4 will feature a hybrid variant for the first time.
The new Toyota RAV4 will feature a hybrid variant for the first time.

Toyota is also one of the leading developers of solid-state batteries and reportedly plans to launch a production vehicle within the next five years.

The final option is hydrogen, a technology Hanley touts with evangelical fervour. though he concedes it isn't a short-term solution to reducing car companies' CO2 emissions, particularly in Australia where geography and a relatively low population density make rolling out refilling stations problematic.

"There's a whole infrastructure that needs to be built. It needs government, it needs other car companies to join together to bring it to life and it needs the fuel and energy companies to come together."

"People dismissed the Prius when we first launched it but we persisted and now battery-electric hybrids are simply part of the normal model mix. The same thing will happen with hydrogen, not tomorrow, not the day after but at some stage down the track."

"The (Toyota) Mirai shows it's possible to have hydrogen-powered cars with the same range as a petrol vehicle and zero emissions."

"Toyota will have a solution of mobility for every customer, at any time by 2030 and beyond."