Toyota Motor Corp. ( TM ) launched the world's best fuel-efficient gasoline-electric hybrid car in Japan, known as Aqua. The car, which will be marketed in the U.S. asPrius C, delivers 35.4 km per liter (83.3 miles per gallon), beating the mileage of currentPrius model that gives 32 km per liter.
Earlier the company had revealed that Aqua uses the samepowertrain as thePrius sedan. It is priced at about ¥1.7 million ($22,000) in Japan, which is¥300 thousand less than the currentPrius in order to attract the entry-level, fuel-efficient car buyers. The automaker intends to sell 12,000 units of Aqua per month in Japan.
Toyota occupied the No.1 spot in hybrid offerings after introducingPrius in 1997. Since then, the automaker sold more than 3.4 million hybrid vehicles till date. It expects to launch as many as 10 more gasoline-electric models by 2015 and offer a fuel-sipping option across its entire line-up by 2020.
In May 2011, Toyota introducedPrius Alpha hatchback wagon, which is derived from the third generationPrius model, asPrius V (5-seater) in Japan. The vehicle is priced at ¥2.35 million ($29,000) and is equipped with nickel-metal hydride (NiMH ) batteries like its predecessor.
Toyota plans to sellPrius V in North America in a year. It also plans to sell the 7-seater version ofPrius Alpha in Europe asPrius Plus in mid-2012. The automaker intends to sell 2,000 units ofPrius V per month in North America and 2,000 units ofPrius Plus per month in Europe.
Toyota will also launch the plug-in version ofPrius hybrid car next year that comes with an excellent mileage and affordable price. The plug-in-hybrid (PHV ) vehicle boasts a mileage of 61.0 km per liter (143 miles per gallon) in combinedEV and hybrid driving modes under Japanese test conditions. Meanwhile, the U.S. version of thePrius PHV will provide a mileage of 87 mpg.
Including subsidies for green vehicles,Prius PHV is priced at ¥3.2 million ($41,000) in Japan, $32,000 in the U.S. and €37,000 in Europe. This is ¥3.76 million lower than Nissan Motors ' ( NSANY">NSANY ) Leaf electric car and cheaper than General Motor 's ( GM ) VoltPHV , priced at $41,000 (before subsidies).
As a result,Prius PHV will pose a significant threat to both GM and Nissan, who are trying very hard to lead in the hybrid vehicles (HV ) market. Toyota plans to sell 35,000 to 40,000 units ofPrius PHV per year in Japan and 60,000 units globally.
In this year, Toyota also signed a memorandum of understanding with Ford Motor Co. ( F ) on the equal product development collaboration in order to manufacture a gas-electric hybrid engine for pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs). It has also partnered with Tesla Motors Inc. ( TSLA">TSLA ) to collaborate on producing electric vehicles based on its small SUVRAV4 .
Toyota is struggling with waning sales in the U.S., its most important market, due to production disruptions resulted from the twin disaster in Japan and severe floods in Thailand. It has already lost its No.1 position to GM and Ford in terms of sales.
However, the product launches will definitely help Toyota to maintain its top position in theHV market as well as lift its overall position from the backlash of recent mishaps.
Recently, Toyota revealed its target to achieve a 20% growth in global sales to 8.48 million vehicles in 2012 on the production of 8.65 million vehicles, up 24% from 6.97 million in 2011.
Toyota also stated that it expects to sell 8.95 million vehicles in 2013 by manufacturing 8.98 million vehicles. The estimated sales (excluding sales by group companies such asDaihatsu Motor Co. andHino Motors) are higher than 8.43 million vehicles attained by the company in 2007.