September 26, 2012

Toyota ready to kick butt with new hybrids

A visitor looks at Toyota Motor Corp's Prius hybrid car
at the Toyota Motor Corp showroom in Tokyo in this
August 2010 file photo. (Reuters/Christian Science Monitor)

Even as GM is dropping more hybrids, except for the very-costly-to-build Chevy Volt, to which it's chained its future like a lead anchor, Toyota is ready to kick some fuel economy butt.

It has announced it's rolling out 21 new hybrids. No, that's not a typo. Even the base-level Scion division of the company looks like it's going to get at least one hybrid. And, not some long distance away, but in 2015.

And, since Toyota, on moderate volumes, is now profitable on the Prius, the story is right on that aspect. Profit margins may be smaller, in general, but with enough volume, these new hybrids will be profitable soon enough.

The New York Times, on its Wheels blog, notes that Honda is also going to expand its hybrid offerings.

Now, as Ford has moderate hybrid offerings, GM has pledged to basically have none, and Chrysler has none now, with no real word of future developments, will the formerly Big Three do what Ford did with its hybrid Escape and buy hybrid technology from Toyota (or Honda) for licensing? And, with EPA fuel economy requirements set to hit 54.5 mpg by 2025 (ignoring the various loopholes in there, such as for flex-fuel vehicles), will Toyota or Honda be willing sellers?

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