Hybrids have come quite a long way from their roots as dull, slow, boring ecomobiles. Today, Porsche sells three hybrid models, one of which is the amazing 918 Spyder. BMW will soon sell four, including a low-slung, two-seat sports car. Even Ferrari and McLaren, full-fledged hypercar manufacturers, are embracing the tech. And all of these cars are sold alongside the same sort of boring cars that popularized hybrids in the first place. According to Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada, though, we should see an even bigger increase in the number of hybrid vehicles in the coming years.

"I foresee hybrid models pretty soon reaching 20 percent of global sales from about 13 percent to 14 percent now," Uchiyamada-san told Automotive News. Uchiyamada is the man behind the original Prius, which gives him some degree of authority on making predictions about hybrid adoption.

What's remarkable, though, is that the 20-percent figure doesn't include plug-in hybrids, just gas- and diesel-electric models. "Suppliers need higher volumes to slash costs of components specific to plug-in models, including batteries that should be bigger and more capable than the ones used in traditional hybrids," Uchiyamada told AN.

Those comments run counter to those of Volkswagen's CEO, Martin Winterkorn, who told AN's sister publication, Automobilwoche that "plug-in hybrid has the greatest potential." For what it's worth, Uchiyamada isn't discounting PHEVs, saying his company is "closely watching what our competitors are doing."

Still, it's telling that the man that can essentially be credited with creating the most influential hybrid of all time is still skeptical of plug-ins, especially considering Toyota's own Plug-In Prius. What's your view on this? Should Toytoa, which only builds one plug-in hybrid alongside 25 hybrids, be placing a bigger focus on the technology? Have your say in Comments.


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  • 40 Comments
      Joe Y
      • 9 Months Ago
      Great more ugly eye sores to pollute the highway. I need to get in the towing business so that I can take advantage of all these morons buying this high tech crap
        GR
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Joe Y
        Joe Y, Do your homework. Hybrids are among the most reliable vehicles ever. The Prius, Fusion Hybrid, and Volt all have above average reliability. Tow truck drivers tow more exotics, Land Rovers, Jaguars, and European makes than hybrids.
        txdesign
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Joe Y
        Without the development that has already gone into hybrids, or high tech crap as you say, we wouldn't have the McLaren P1 and the Porsche 918.
        4gasem
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Joe Y
        Shh... Don't make fun of the Prius's. The Prius club is here to stand up for their "cars".
      4gasem
      • 9 Months Ago
      My LS3 6.8L powered G8 GXP rejoices! More fuel for me!
      icemilkcoffee
      • 9 Months Ago
      Plug-in hybrids are simply too expensive. I think hybrids will have a future for sure. But plug-in hybrids won't come into play until gas reaches $6+
        mapoftazifosho
        • 9 Months Ago
        @icemilkcoffee
        That's backwards... Mobile phones were once $5,000 and each minute of talk would set you back a few dollars...my how technology and economies of scale can change the conversation...
          jebibudala
          • 9 Months Ago
          @mapoftazifosho
          icemilkcoffeesugarcream has a point. If you look at the rate of battery technology vs. electronic technology over the last 100 years, battery technology has basically gone nowhere in advancements. So until that price curve really starts to swing in favor of batteries, hybrid/plugin/EV sales will continue to stagger.
          Ron
          • 9 Months Ago
          @mapoftazifosho
          More like $10 gallon. Engine technology is outpacing hybrid technology and soon enough people will look back and laugh at hybrids. That new nissan motor is a great example. Small, light, 1.3l motor you can hold in your hands and it makes 400hp, and gets well over 40mpg. Why buy all the heavy, expensive hybrid gear when you can have that?
        John Fagnant
        • 9 Months Ago
        @icemilkcoffee
        The plug-in Prius uses a 4.4 kWh battery-pack. That size keeps cost within reach of being affordable for the masses. It's quite a bit smaller than the other choices available. So, blanket statements like that (dumping all offerings into a single category) can be misleading. $6 gas isn't necessary either. 73 MPG is the average from mine (which just turned 2 years old yesterday). That's a big improvement over the 50 MPG average over almost 3 years from the 2010 it replaced. The real-world result, driven in Minnesota (where winter really hits efficiency hard), shows gas prices don't need to go up much for the benefit to be obvious. Toyota's effort to squeeze out so much from a battery-pack concealed under the false floor, which doesn't take away any of the open cargo area from the regular model, is a good approach for growing sales. They could the plug as an option, just like other upgrade packages. There's an obvious gain from short trips and you still get 50 MPG following depletion. It's a best-of-both-worlds design. Being able to recharge entirely in less than 2.5 hours using an ordinary 110-volt household outlet is another size-related perk often overlooked. Larger battery-packs take longer to recharge entirely, unless you invest in a level-2 charging station. That extra expense & uncertainty scares away potential buyers. They kept it simple. Unfortunately, that simplicity makes improvements difficult to notice unless you actually drive one fully charged a few times. As people begin to figure out how it differs from the regular model and realize some of their assumptions may have been incorrect, it should add to sales.
          skierpage
          • 9 Months Ago
          @John Fagnant
          "Being able to recharge entirely in less than 2.5 hours using an ordinary 110-volt household outlet is another size-related perk often overlooked." It's not a perk, it's just false reassurance for people lacking common sense and math skills. 2.5 hours of 110 Volt charging puts *THE SAME RANGE* into a car with a much bigger battery. There's nobody holding a gun to Volt and Energi owners forcing them to hang around longer to recharge their vehicles to 100%. Enjoy your car.
        krona2k
        • 9 Months Ago
        @icemilkcoffee
        Also backwards because only a plugin hybrid can offer serious fuel savings and since they contain all the same stuff as a regular hybrid except a charger, bigger battery and motor they'll end up not being significantly more than a regular hybrid.
      Jim1961
      • 9 Months Ago
      Meanwhile, Tesla, BMW, GM and even Ford are ahead of Toyota in plugin technology.
      m_2012
      • 9 Months Ago
      Half their recall rate. Nice.
      pickles
      • 9 Months Ago
      It's an odd statement from Toyota. Surely, they enjoy super sales in hybrid vehicles- yet a few years back, they stated, "by 2012, every Toyota vehicle will have a hybrid version". That sure didn't happen. My feeling is that it would be fantastic if Toyota followed through with that plan- better mpg benefits everyone. Especially with a brand like Toyota that doesn't ..ahem... 'emphasize' driving excitement, ultra effeciency would be a great balance. I'm still holding out for a hybrid or plug-in Sienna (or some vastly more economical version) as our second car.
        GR
        • 9 Months Ago
        @pickles
        While maybe not 100%, a lot more Toyota models in the JDM are offered as hybrids.
        John Fagnant
        • 9 Months Ago
        @pickles
        ...they stated, "by 2012, every Toyota vehicle will have a hybrid version". No, you got their goals mixed up. The goal for 2012 was to reach production & sales of 1 million per year, which was indeed achieved. The "hybrid version" goal was set for 2020.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 9 Months Ago
          @John Fagnant
          This article from 2008: "Earlier this year, Toyota claimed it would have a hybrid in every facet of its lineup by the decade beginning in 2020, and company executives have since confirmed that plan." http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1023177_more-details-on-toyotas-plans-for-a-full-hybrid-lineup-by-2020
          pickles
          • 9 Months Ago
          @John Fagnant
          I *really* don't think that's what I read (because after I read it, I was trying to decide if I could stand my older Sienna till 2012 when a hybrid might arrive). Your line is a rather different idea but I can't find the quote so I concede that I can't prove it.
      brotherkenny4
      • 9 Months Ago
      I think the uptake on EVs is going to be faster than people suspect, and that will affect the HEVs and PHEVs. Probably not in the next three to five years, but in the long run. The reason will be because of the intrisically lower price of EVs and their very much lower operating costs. The dual drive systems of HEVs and PHEVs will put them at a cost disadvantage eventually. Batteries will be $200/kWh and EVs will be as low as $12K to manufacture once someone really produces at high enough volumes. Again, this is a somewhat long term outlook, which is not typically in the plans for the more old a stodgy traditional corporations. Sure, these old behemoths have political clout and can push around our politicians but that only buys them so much time. There are always younger organizations that are more closely tied to real competition that eventual get into the new technologies and then the old guys pay the price. Personally I think the Chinese are too young and too likely to simply copy the US to be a threat, but the Koreans, who have traditionally been followers, are poised to move ahead in at least productivity and that suggests big success in EVs, as they will be eventually a commodity like product.
      mary.keana
      • 9 Months Ago
      I'm really interested in a hybrid for the first time. The Accord. Just wish the trunk was better.
      Ron
      • 9 Months Ago
      So 20% of buyers can't do basic math? Hybrids just don't make any sense... not financialy or environmenly.
        Spec
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Ron
        LOL. Let's your calculations. I bet they assume the price of gasoline does not rise.
      Pj Taintz
      • 9 Months Ago
      just not ready for someone like me yet. I have yet to drive a hybrid system that I have enjoyed
        SteveG
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Pj Taintz
        Go drive an accord hybrid. If you want more than that try an ELR.
        mapoftazifosho
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Pj Taintz
        I love my 2012 Camry Hybrid. Never really thought I'd be a hybrid owner...but eh...I cannot complain about over 40 MPG and 200 hp with 200 lb-ft.
      • 9 Months Ago
      [blocked]
      craigcsj
      • 9 Months Ago
      I love my 2012 Plugin Prius. It gets 83 miles per gallon of gasoline (over 26,000 miles), when driven just like my 2004 Prius which went 48 miles per gallon of gasoline (over 120,000 miles). The extra electric miles on the Plugin cost about half as much per mile as gasoline when gasoline is $3.50 per gallon and electricity costs 14 cents per killowat hour. For me, electricity costs no additional money as my solar panels generate more than my house uses. My Plugin uses about 1100 Kwh per year for my driving.
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