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Flood of hybrids tipped to arrive


Toyota alone has plans for eight hybrids and they will be joined by everything up to super-luxury petrol-electric cars from Porsche and Mercedes-Benz.

With a growing number of fuel-efficient diesel cars also landing from Europe, the number of bowser wowsers will soar as quickly as fuel economy falls.

Toyota yesterday unveiled its third-generation Prius, the global hybrid poster car, with the promise of everything from 3.9 litre/100km fuel economy and CO2 emissions of 89 grams/kilometre to eco-plastics in the cabin and a solar roof panel to cool the cabin when the car is parked.

But hybrids are still not cheap and parking a new Prius in the driveway will cost a minimum of $39,990.

The Prius previews some of the technology to be seen next year in the company's first locally-made hybrid, a version of the Camry, and sets the benchmark for the upcoming Honda Insight. It will be the Prius's closest showroom challenger, although slightly smaller, with a pricetag set close to $30,000.

Toyota Australia is aiming for 4500 Prius sales next year, in a global total which could go as high at 300,000 in 88 countries worldwide.

"In future years hybrids will become the mainstream cars," the chief engineer of the new Prius, Akihiko Otsuka, said yesterday.

The Prius push comes as a growing number of carmakers look for a fuel- efficient solution to the world's energy needs, as well as a segway to the all-electric cars which will eventually take over from petrol power.

For Toyota, and its Lexus luxury brand, that will mean eight new models led by the Prius, local Camry and a compact Lexus called the HS250h. There is no talk yet of either a HiLux hybrid or any diesel- electric hybrid.

"We have looked at diesel but it would be too expensive for the consumer," said Otsuka.

The Prius has now been sold in Australia for eight years, although Honda was first into showrooms with its original Insight and still has the hybrid price leader with its Civic. But this is not as technologically advanced as the Prius.


AUSTRALIA'S FAVOURITE HYBRIDS
Toyota Prius
Price: $39,990
Economy: 3.9L/100km
Emissions: 89g/km

Honda Civic Hybrid
Price: $35,990
Economy: 4.6L/100km
Emissions: 109g/100km

Lexus RX450h
Price: $89,900
Economy: 6.4L/100km
Emissions: 150g/km