Details on these new vehicles are scarce, but there is a Corolla hatchback (non-plug) hybrid in Australia that can go a little over a mile on electric power (as most of Toyota's current hybrids can). There are also non-plug Corolla and Levin models available in China, and Toyota has sold around 40,000 of them so far. Instead of talking up the new plug-ins, Toyota is highlighting its hybrid history in China. For example, the fact that China was the first place outside of Japan where Toyota makes the Prius and that Toyota has been operating a hybrid R&D center there since 2010.
Beijing, China, April 24, 2016―On the eve of the 2016 Beijing International Automobile Exhibition, Toyota announced that it will launch plug-in hybrid versions of the Corolla and Levin―two mass-market models―in China during 2018.
More than 10 years of hybrid production and R&D in China
In 2005, based on long-term plans to encourage the widespread use of environmentally-friendly vehicles in the country, Toyota selected China as the first location for production of its hybrid flagship, the Prius, outside of Japan.
Later, the establishment of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing (China) Co., Ltd. in 2010 created a hub for localized research and development of hybrid technologies. Following this major commitment, Toyota established two local manufacturers of hybrid powertrain components, Toyota Motor (Changshu) Auto Parts Co., Ltd. and Sinogy Toyota Automotive Energy System Co., Ltd., in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
These efforts culminated in last year's launch of the Corolla Hybrid and Levin Hybrid―both of which feature locally developed hybrid units―in the Chinese market. Cumulative total orders for both vehicles now stand at approximately 40,000 units. To continue promoting the widespread use of alternative energy vehicles in the future, Toyota is also proceeding with localization of plug-in hybrid vehicle development ahead of the launch of plug-in versions of these two models in 2018.
Global sales of the Toyota Prius PHV began in January 2012, and by the end of March 2016, a cumulative total of 75,000 units had been sold in Japan, the U.S., and Europe, with the latest generation Prius PHV set to go on sale in these markets from this fall. With plug-in hybrids representing the new benchmark for environmentally-friendly vehicles in China, the mass-market Corolla and Levin plug-in hybrid models will be launched in 2018.
New turbo engine
Toyota also announced the introduction of a 1.2-liter direct-injection turbo engine with class-leading thermal efficiency in vehicles that are slated to go on sale in China later this year. The engine, first announced in April 2015, delivers superb driving performance and acceleration, while also achieving impressive fuel efficiency and world-leading thermal efficiency. At present, it is available in models sold in Europe and Japan.
Advanced safety technology
Following introduction in Europe, Japan and the U.S., the Toyota Safety Sense active safety package will be made available in vehicles sold in China later this year. In line with the gradual deployment of Toyota Safety Sense packages with specifications that match the local market environments, the system has been specifically adapted for Chinese roads.