Japan’s Nihon Keizai Shimbun reports that Toyota Motor plans to offer gasoline-electric hybrid versions for all vehicle classes to meet its target of quadrupling annual worldwide hybrid sales to 1 million vehicles by 2012, representing 10% of total annual new vehicle sales.
Toyota will replace vehicle platforms as the models are redesigned to provide compatibility with hybrid drive systems. The paper reports that Toyota plans a new hybrid version of its Crown luxury sedan in 2008 and its Vitz subcompact in 2010 or later. (Toyota currently offers a mild-hybrid version of the Crown in Japan.)
Toyota also is working to reduce the production costs for hybrid systems to enable their application in lower-priced models. The company would like to lower the cost by more than 30% through improvements to the battery and by reducing the size of parts. The size of the system itself is also to be halved by switching from nickel metal hydride to lithium-ion batteries.
Honda last year said that it will cut the extra cost of hybrid powertrains on the Civic by a third within 5 years and possibly will begin to phase out the gasoline-powered version in some markets, including Japan. (Earlier post.)
While Toyota’s hybrids now cost about ¥500,000 (US$4,248) more than gasoline-powered versions of the same model, the new system is expected to reduce the cost delta to less than ¥300,000 (US$2,549)—a 40% reduction.