Bloomberg. Toyota Motor is uncertain of US consumer demand for plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), and says that extensive tests are needed to determine demand before it offers PHEVs for the US market.
“There is a consumer market at some price-point for plug- ins,” Bill Reinert, national manager for advanced vehicle technology at Toyota’s U.S. unit, said in an interview yesterday. “We just don’t yet know the size of that market.”
Toyota’s caution reveals a difference in approach between the Japanese automaker, which has sold more than 800,000 Prius hybrids globally since 1997, and General Motors Corp., which wants to build as many of 60,000 Volt plug-in electric cars in the model’s first year, people with knowledge of GM’s plans said earlier this week.
GM also says that it is moving forward with plans to develop a plug-in version of its upcoming two-mode Saturn VUE Green Line.
Toyota plans road tests later this year of modified Priuses with rechargeable nickel-metal hydride batteries that allow about eight miles of all-electric range.
“I know there’s a lot of enthusiasm right now about plug-ins,” Reinert said in the interview. “I’m a little cautious about how much of that ends up as real consumer behavior.”