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"I'm not sure I'd want to be a single EV-only manufacturer right now": Toyota Australia said people want hybrids putting heat on electric cars such as the Tesla Model Y, BYD Seal and MG4

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2024 Toyota bZ4X.
2024 Toyota bZ4X.

Australia’s favourite car brand has taken a shot at electric car-only brands such as Tesla and Polestar.

Toyota Australia’s Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Franchise Operations intimated car makers that only sell EVs are in for a tough time.

“I’m not sure I’d want to be a single EV-only manufacturer right now,” said Hanley.

“People are now moving back to hybrid and particularly plug-in hybrid. Interesting.”

Sales of hybrid cars such as the Toyota RAV4 and Hyundai Kona are up more than 113 per cent through the first six months of this year.

Toyota announced last week it had delivered more than 100,000 hybrids in Australia the past financial year. The RAV4 led the charge with 38,632 sales for in the past 12 months, followed by the Corolla (20,375), Camry (16,872), Corolla Cross (7,876), Kluger (7,311) and Yaris Cross (6,077).

Plug-in hybrids are in a similar purple patch with sales up by about 130 per cent this year.

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

Electric cars sales have plateaued after a very strong 2023 with sales up 16.5 per cent this year. EV sales were up more than 160 per cent last year.

Toyota has always maintained battery electric cars are just part of the future mix of vehicles and they are a long way from becoming the default choice of buyers.

“Toyota's always been about the long term: we don't plan for five years, we plan for 20 to 30 years. And that's what you're seeing right now in play is that multi pathways strategy that we've been talking about for a long time,” said Hanley.

Toyota just launched its first electric car - the bZ4X - in Australia earlier this year with mixed results. It has only sold 555 examples since February compared to Tesla shifting 23,116 examples of its Model Y and Model 3 in the same time.

Hanley said the company wouldn't follow Tesla and slash the price of its EV.

Despite their increasing popularity Toyota Australia still does not sell any plug-in hybrids locally despite offering plug-in hybrid versions of the Prius, C-HR and RAV4 overseas.

Hanley promised a wide variety of vehicles were on the agenda for Toyota in Australia.

2024 Toyota C-HR Hybrid.
2024 Toyota C-HR Hybrid.

“100 per cent you can expect hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, battery electric vehicles, fuel cell electric vehicles and I dare say some time in the future even synthetic fuel vehicles, hydrogen conversion vehicles of conventional ICE engines are also something we are considering,” he said.

Toyota has long been a champion of hydrogen power and it currently has a fleet of Mirai Fuel Cell vehicles trialling in Australia.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicles convert hydrogen to electricity that is stored in a battery, which then powers an electric motor. The only tailpipe emissions is water.

Toyota Mirai.
Toyota Mirai.

Hanley previously told CarsGuide hydrogen fuel cell vehicles won’t be popular for the next three to five years but will become more important in the future. Refuelling infrastructure is one of the biggest problems with only a handful of outlets nationwide.

He did say Toyota Australia will sell a hydrogen fuel cell car in the next two years, but only in areas where there is the infrastructure to support it which, reading between the lines, means Canberra.

Dom Tripolone
News Editor
Dom is Sydney born and raised and one of his earliest memories of cars is sitting in the back seat of his dad's BMW coupe that smelled like sawdust. He aspired to be a newspaper journalist from a young age and started his career at the Sydney Morning Herald working in the Drive section before moving over to News Corp to report on all things motoring across the company's newspapers and digital websites. Dom has embraced the digital revolution and joined CarsGuide as News Editor, where he finds joy in searching out the most interesting and fast-paced news stories on the brands you love. In his spare time Dom can be found driving his young son from park to park.
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