Toyota Prius

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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