Toyota, Australia’s leading automaker, will expand its range of hybrid petrol-electric vehicles (HEVs), accelerate its plans for battery electric vehicles (EVs) and even launch plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models. Australian. This step is subject to the introduction of a nationwide Fuel Efficiency Standard (FES) that may necessitate these changes.
Around 2,700 proposals have been tabled so far on the proposed FES and the Australian government has promised to present its plan by the end of 2023 and table legislation in Parliament next year. If implemented, the FES could come into force in 2026.
Although details of Toyota’s FES proposal have not been released, the automaker advocates a “technology-neutral” approach that allows for the coexistence of internal combustion engine (ICE) and zero-emission vehicles.
Toyota has been criticized for its stance by environmental group Greenpeace, but the company remains committed to its plans to launch three electric vehicles by the end of 2026, with the bZ4X mid-size SUV as its flagship model. Toyota has also committed to electrifying more than 50% of its sales by 2025. However, both obligations are subject to adjustment due to FES requirements.
As for the electrified mix, Toyota is considering plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) as part of its plans. While the automaker has mainly focused on hybrid vehicles for the Australian market, Sean Hanley, head of sales and marketing at Toyota Australia, raised the possibility that a petrol-electric PHEV version of the new Prado could hit the market next year. In addition, Hanley acknowledged the increasing likelihood that Toyota Australia will transition to a range of full hybrid cars and SUVs as a result of the FES.
On the other hand, Hanley raised concerns about the impact of the strict regulations on commercial diesel vehicles such as the HiLux ute and LandCruiser 4×4. If these vehicles become too expensive or restrictive to sell, owners may choose to keep older, more polluting models rather than upgrade to new ones. Toyota plans to introduce 48-volt mild hybrid diesel technology in certain light commercial vehicles, but there are no immediate plans for hybrid diesel-electric or PHEV powertrains.
Toyota’s goal is to manage the transition away from internal combustion vehicles in a way that is sustainable, practical and affordable for consumers. Although the Australian company has been using hybrid technology for over two decades, it recognizes that a shift towards electrification is inevitable.