Toyota Motor Corp revealed its first mass-market hybrid automobile for India, a sport utility vehicle (SUV), on Friday, establishing a new path for the Japanese automaker in one of the world’s fastest-growing car markets.
The Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder SUV, the first vehicle produced as part of a global alliance with Suzuki Motor Corp, will compete with Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Motor Corp in a market that accounts for a significant amount of auto sales in India.
Vikram Kirloskar, vice chairman of local firm Toyota Kirloskar Motor, said at a launch event in New Delhi that the new model will be a “ultimate game changer” for the company in India’s electrified vehicle industry.
It also supports Toyota’s decision to go the hybrid way in developing markets such as India, where infrastructure for battery electric cars (BEVs) is lacking and much of the electricity is generated using coal or other fossil fuels. more info
While green investors have chastised Toyota for taking too long to transition its product line to all-electric vehicles, Toyota maintains that hybrids make more sense in areas where it needs to offer a number of options based on the energy mix and local demands.
India wants carmakers to produce more electric vehicles, but demand for such vehicles has been weak, with just Tata Motors producing them locally.
Maruti Suzuki, India’s largest automaker, has stated that it will not release an all-electric vehicle before 2025.
Toyota offers a robust hybrid powertrain in its top vehicles in India, such as the Camry sedan and the Vellfire. This is the first time the technology will be used in a mass-market vehicle, where only gasoline and diesel variants are currently available.
Toyota claims that the new SUV would be 40 per cent to 50 per cent more fuel efficient than a comparable gasoline-powered vehicle and will reduce carbon emissions by 30 per cent. About 90 per cent of the car’s parts are sourced locally, which will help it price the car competitively when it goes on sale later this year.
Toyota’s biggest pricing difficulty will come from the hefty taxes levied by the Indian government on hybrid automobiles, which range from 28% to 43% versus 5% on all-electric vehicles.
The SUV will be sold in India and other global markets, including Africa, and will be manufactured at a Toyota plant in southern Karnataka state. Suzuki would also grab the SUV from Toyota’s southern India branch and market it under its own brand.
(Adapted from USNews.com)