At a recent press conference in Tokyo, Toyota’s vice chairman and head of research and development, Takeshi Uchiyamada, announced that the Japanese automaker has plans to introduce 21 new or significantly redesigned hybrid vehicles before 2015 comes to a close. Though some are saying that these plans are optimistic at best, Toyota’s successful return to the market after Japan’s natural disaster outbreak last year was led in large part by sales of the automaker’s hybrid vehicles. Hybrid sales have been so strong for Toyota recently that those in Tokyo expect them to reach 1 million world-wide by the end of 2012. Further, they expect sales to stay above the 1 million mark every year thereafter. To give you a better idea of whether or not Toyota is capable of reaching either of these lofty goals, here’s a look at their current hybrid and EV lineup:
3rd Generation Prius
This gas-electric hybrid gives drivers the choice between three running modes: gas only, gas and electricity simultaneously, or electricity only. Even if you primarily drive just using electricity, you’ll conveniently never have to plug in the 3rd generation Prius. Electric power is taken from its trunk-mounted battery, which recharges itself every time the car brakes. The vehicle that Toyota calls an “Eco-Icon” gets approximately 51mpg city/48mpg highway and is now available everywhere in the United States. Starting at $24,000, the 2012 Prius has four available trim levels, each comes standard with a center console touch-screen.
With a starting MSRP of $18,950 the Prius c is Toyota’s newest and cheapest gas-electric hybrid vehicle. Like the regular Prius, the Prius c also offers consumers four trim levels to choose from. The “c” stands for city as the four-door hatch back gets an impressive 53mpg city and 46mpg on the highway. Though the Prius c is slightly smaller than the 3rd Generation Prius, it seats five comfortably and employs the same hybrid technology.
Also new for Toyota in 2012 is the Prius v. The Prius v starts at $26,550 and though it only seats five, it’s the largest Prius available. Its added cargo space and cabin room inspired the “v,” which stands for versatility. The family-style Prius gets 44mpg in the city and 40mpg on the highway while utilizing the same gas-electric system that powers the 3rd generation Prius and the Prius c.
Prius Plug-In Hybrid
Toyota’s most expensive Prius, the Plug-in, starts at $32,000. It differs from the rest of the Prius family
because it has an additional battery in the front of the vehicle that can be charged externally. When this battery’s power is expended (it has a range of 15 miles while traveling 63mph), the Prius Plug-in runs like the rest of Toyota’s Prius vehicles—on a gas-electric hybrid engine. The Plug-in is only available in certain east and west coast states, and only two trim levels are available: base and advanced.
The Toyota Camry Hybrid has the exact same design as the gas-powered Camry and starts at a reasonable $25,990. It looks much larger than the Prius, but gets similar fuel efficiency at 40-43mpg city and 38-39mpg highway. Powered by a gasoline 4-cylinder and a separate electric motor, like most of the Prius family it never has to be plugged in. Only two trim levels are available with the Camry Hybrid: the LE and the XLE.
Though the Highlander is Toyota’s most expensive hybrid offering, it’s a full-size SUV with room for seven. Whether you’re driving on the highway or on city streets, the Highlander Hybrid has a fuel efficiency of 28mpg. Consumers have the choice between a 4 or 6-cylinder and the base trim or the Limited, which will run you $44,370.
Only available in California at the moment, the RAV4 EV is Toyota’s only all-electric vehicle. Though the automaker plans to release a compact EV modeled off of Scion’s iQ in the near future, the RAV4 is a compact SUV that starts at $49,800.