Toyota's chief engineer for product planning Shigeyuki Hori has doubts about the future success of hybrids. His point of view comes from watching the Japanese market react to the Lexus RX (Harrier in Japan) and Highlander (Kluger) hybrids. Hori believes that the poor sales of the new hybrids was due to the nearly 20 percent premium customers would have to pay for the 'big electric appliance.' For hybrids, the cost factor is always going to be a problem, and Toyota is beginning to worry that investing in both hybrid and normal gasoline/diesel powertrains for the same model will not pay off. Hori sees that Toyota would need to develop hybrid models that are unique, vehicles without a normal equivalent, in order for the hybrid to be successful.
Hori has a good point. Look at the Prius. It is essentially an economy car, if there was a non-hybrid Prius it would probably cost between 16-18k. If consumers were to see the price difference between a hybrid and a non-hybrid, then they may be less likely to choose the hybrid. We?re also not sure about comparing the Japanese market to the American market. The hybrid SUVs and Camry will meet with some success, simply because we are less price sensitive and hybrids are becoming a sort of status symbol for many.