A Toyota executive has spilled the beans on Toyota's aggressive plans to win back the spotlight on the rapidly changing landscape of hybrid and fully electric cars. In addition to six new global hybrids—including the first luxury car to best a 40 mpg combined average—Toyota is planning on releasing three plug-in cars to the U.S. market by the end of 2012.
Toyota Plug-in #1: RAV4
Of course, many of us know that Toyota is working with Tesla to bring back the much beloved RAV4 EV. And yesterday we learned that the collaboration will result in a show car for the 2010 LA Auto Show this November. The updated RAV4 EV is moving along swiftly, in fact the "Toyesla" alliance has already built a prototype and has entered the testing phase.
Toyota Plug-in #2: Small City Car
In addition to the RAV4 EV, Toyota also has plans to introduce a city EV based on the Scion iQ and meant for short hops around crowded urban areas with limited parking. The concept for this car, the FT-EV, was shown at the Detroit Auto Show last year. Since then Toyota has introduced the iQ in the U.S. under their Scion brand, which makes you wonder if the EV based on the iQ will also be sold as a Scion.
Scions are known for their affordability and are marketed to younger, hipper, urbanites (although a fair share of them are actually bought by empty-nesters), so if Toyota does go the Scion route with the city EV, it'll be interesting to see how that translates on the affordability factor.
Toyota Plug-in #3: Prius PHEV
So there are already thousands of homegrown Prius Plug-in Hybrids out there—what with people getting so impatient with Toyota's up-till-now ambivalence towards the electric car—and many of you are likely thinking something along the lines of "about damn time" on this one. But if early results from fleet driving of the Toyota-built plug-in Prius are any indication, this car could be worth the wait: how's an average of 83 mpg for you?
And yesterday, a Toyota spokesman left some very interesting news buried in a New York Times piece: Toyota is now estimating that the Prius Plug-in Hybrid will have a $3,000 to $5,000 premium over the base conventional Prius.