Toyota is the world’s largest automaker by production and sales. Thanks to its commitment to quality and the efficiency of its factories around the world, this Japanese manufacturer is known in every country. It has a strong presence on five continents through its manufacturing plants and design centers.
Much of Toyota’s popularity is due to its ability to offer the right vehicle in every market. Better than its rivals in Japan, the US, and Europe, Toyota is doing pretty well at creating cars to suit the tastes of the markets in which it operates. And usually, these are global products. The Corolla, RAV4, Land Cruiser and Yaris are just four examples of the wide variety of cars that cater to all markets.
Another part of this explanation comes from the hybrid engine. Toyota has been building hybrid cars for more than 20 years, selling millions of units in that time. This investment in powertrains is paying off: the brand is ahead of its competitors in terms of fuel emissions and making money with these cars.
What will happen in the future?
Despite the success and positive image that hybrid technology has given Toyota, several external factors forced the brand to take the next step. It will have to decide whether to continue improving existing hybrid technology, or switch to zero-emission pure electric vehicles.
The thing is, the second option is a bit foreign to Toyota. Due to its focus on the improvement and proliferation of hybrid cars in the past 20 years, it has devoted less resources and interest to electric vehicles. Today, Toyota is the world’s largest maker of pure hybrid cars, but one of the smallest electric vehicle makers.
With emission regulations tightening around the world, it is clear that hybrid cars will not be sufficient to meet these targets. Basically, it is an internal combustion engine with an electric drive. And while the impact is quite positive on emissions, such a powertrain will never achieve 100 percent zero emissions.
Hybrid technology is the ideal solution for now, but not in ten years. What will Toyota do? Will the company continue to bet on this attractive, inexpensive and easy-to-use solution? Or will hybrids be completely abandoned in favor of an electric solution?
The author of the article, Felipe Munoz, is an automotive industry specialist at Jato Dynamics.