Toyota pins comeback hopes on hybrids; predicts they'll be 20% of market by 2020

2012 Toyota Prius V
2012 Toyota Prius V
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Toyota has suffered some blows to its image over the last few years with a series of recalls and that whole unintended acceleration thing, and the company has taken matching hits to its bottom line. But nothing was as damaging to the company – in every sense – than the earthquake that struck on March 11. After the quake, Toyota found itself losing massive amounts of cash and sinking in worldwide rankings as damaged factories were unable produce the company's most popular vehicles. American manufacturers GM, Ford, and Chrysler picked up market share on their home turf. Korean makes Hyundai and Kia also made gains in the U.S. The end result? Toyota's sales dropped 7.8 percent.

To win back both market share and profitability, Toyota is putting even more emphasis on hybrid technology. As readers know, Toyota will soon have three versions of the hybrid hatch on the market with the Prius, the roomy Prius V, and the Chevy Volt-challenging Prius plug-in hybrid. Additionally, Toyota's President of U.S. sales, Jim Lentz, has announced that "Prius is going to be the backbone of our powertrain philosophy going forward. The vast majority of vehicle sales we're going to have are going to be hybrids." This might be part of a global increase in hybrid sales. Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota's executive vice president overseeing R&D, recently said that he thinks that hybrids will make up 20 percent of all global vehicle sales in 2020.

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