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Toyota Leads the Way in Hybrid Tech, Here’s why

Toyota Leads the Way in Hybrid Tech, Here's why

The automobile industry took a hard hit this 2020, but it started out well for Toyota. In the first month of the year, Toyota passed the symbolic milestone of more than 15 million hybrid vehicles sold since its first hybrid, the iconic Prius, was first launched in 1997. As the pioneer of hybrid vehicles, Toyota leads the way in hybrid tech, here’s why:

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Toyota As Pioneer of Hybrid Electric Technology

It all began 23 years ago when Takeshi Uchiyamada led a team to develop a 21st-century car that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful pollutants. This gave birth to the first-generation Prius—the first-ever mass-produced hybrid vehicle. It was developed and produced in 1997. This was also around the time of the Kyoto Protocol signing which boosted the environmental movement. 

Fifteen million hybrid sales later, Toyota made a huge difference to the environment with its hybrid technology reducing carbon dioxide emissions by more than 120 million tonnes around the world to date compared to sales of its petrol vehicles counterparts.

Toyota has continued to improve its hybrid technology. Toyota Hybrids are able to seamlessly combine an electric motor with a petrol engine and at the same time drive in zero-emissions mode for over half of the time.

The carmaker envisioned a world where a fuel-efficient engine was the norm, not just an alternative. Because of the company’s original vision, Toyota became the leader when it comes to meeting more and more stringent emissions regulations worldwide. 

It also became the first carmaker to establish global mass production of EVs, having an impressive annual global sales of electric vehicles (EVs) at around 1.5 million cars. This catapulted the evolution of a diverse lineup of hybrids with something for every type of consumer.

Toyota Hybrids Now and Toyota’s Future Vision

With the growth of Toyota’s hybrid lineup comes a change in perception. No longer are hybrids only seen as vehicles for the environment, but they are now seen as thrilling vehicles. They are much faster and more desirable. Toyota hybrids also come with a strong design, loaded with features, and deliver great performance. Hybrids are legitimate vehicles that created a new respectable car segment. It is no longer seen as a science project. 


According to Dough Murtha, group VP, Corporate Planning and Strategy, the hybrid tech of Toyota is no longer just about fuel economy. Until now, quick zero-to-60 acceleration or powerful torque were not expected when driving a hybrid. The original Prius was known for being eco friendly but not really a capable and engaging vehicle to drive. This is why Toyota made a tremendous effort in diversifying its hybrid vehicles and it's also why Toyota leads the way in hybrid tech.


Toyota recognized the need for people to have a car that is good for the environment but also can handle family and gear. When Toyota began making hybrid models of vehicles like the Highlander or Camry, it aimed to produce cars that drove farther using less fuel. But the carmaker was quick to realize that in order for this tech to really appeal to an average consumer/driver, its hybrids’ performance needed to match with gas engines. 


For that reason, Toyota has been developing different types of hybrid engine which includes RAV4 Hybrid, the top-performing RAV in the RAV family. In June this year, its sales soared up nearly 90 percent, and it was also the first time a hybrid was able to outsell its gas counterpart. This time what is selling the vehicle is more about its acceleration than its impressive fuel economy. 


Toyota knew that they needed to produce hybrids that move faster, travel farther, and feel tougher. Aside from the consumer demand, there is another thing that drives the momentum of Toyota hybrids, and that is, Toyota’s ambitious sales goals created to foster a culture of hybrids worldwide. 


By 2025, it aims to have 25 percent of its vehicle sales in the US to be hybrid and half of its global sales to be electrified, including plug-in hybrid, battery-electric, fuel-cell electric, and hybrid vehicles. No wonder the entire Toyota lineup is coming with hybrid options. 


Since the launching of the Prius, the Japanese car manufacturer has taken hybrid as a key strategy and included its ideals into each car it makes. In the process, Toyota is gathering a wealth of fuel-source discoveries that could pave the way to the next generation of vehicles. Cars powered by alternative fuel sources go beyond reducing carbon emissions.


For Toyota, hybrids will become the future


What is Toyota hybrid technology?

Toyota leads the way in hybrid tech, but what makes them so efficient? Toyota hybrids combine the fuel savings of electric motors and the power of petrol engines for lower emissions. In a hybrid, the battery is recharged while you are driving so it’s always ready to run without ever needing to be plugged in.


As mentioned previously, Toyota has set this standard 2 decades ago with its Prius. Toyota still leads the way with its Toyota hybrid technology which aims to provide a cleaner, greener future for everyone.


Thanks to Toyota’s hybrid technology people have enjoyed better fuel economy and lower running costs since 1997. Toyota now has a range of hybrid vehicles to choose from including small hybrids like the Toyota Yaris hybrid, family size vehicles like the Toyota C-HR, Prius, and Corolla.

How Hybrids Work

As the term suggests, a hybrid is a vehicle with 2 or more sources of power.  The majority of hybrid road cars use a regular internal combustion engine coupled with an electric motor, but the way these run together follows that there are different types of hybrid setup. 


Starting with the first Prius, Toyota was the one who developed the full hybrid system using two separate powerplants consisting of a battery-powered electric motor and a petrol-powered combustion engine. These two work together to run the vehicle or can be used individually. It is the most well-known hybrid system worldwide. 


The second type of hybrid is called a parallel. It uses a regular combustion engine as the main power source, with an electronic motor placed between the engine and transmission to provide support. This setup tends to be more limited in its function than a full hybrid, and placing an electric motor into a very tiny space also limits its power and electric vehicle range. 


The last type of hybrid is called the series type. In this vehicle type, the electric motor provides all the drive. The regular combustion engine is not attached to the gearbox and instead runs as a generator to power the electric motor. The biggest thing to overcome for a series hybrid is maintaining its efficiency once the power of the battery has been depleted. This is why series hybrids are rare. 

How Toyota Hybrids Work

Toyota’s hybrid drive system is made up of six main components: electronic motor, petrol engine, power control unit, power split device, and electric generator that utilizes a special type of gearbox to seamlessly distribute power from the engine, generator and motor.


It’s a smart, fuel-saving tech that can effortlessly and automatically switch between conventional engine power and electric power. It can adapt to different driving conditions. The hybrid system controls the power which comes from both sources and directs the car on how to combine them for optimum efficiency and performance.


The system works harmoniously between the 2 power sources. When the engine is on, it charges the battery through the generator. In slow-moving traffic and other driving conditions that do not need a lot of power, the generator can cut out the petrol engine and switch to an electric motor for zero-emissions. 


The advanced engine management system can detect when the vehicle is stopped and will turn off the engine to conserve power and stop emissions. It will then automatically start up again when necessary.


A hybrid-powered Toyota won’t need to be plugged in to get recharged because the battery is well-charged by the system. But Toyota does generate plug-in hybrid electric cars that can make use of its longer range of more than 30 miles in electric-only EV mode and vehicles which convert hydrogen into electricity. 


How Toyota Hybrid Batteries Are Charged

There are two ways to charge the battery in Toyota’s hybrid system. First, as was mentioned previously, the petrol engine makes the generator to charge the battery. The second way is via regenerative braking. 


In regenerative braking, the system diverts energy back to the battery when you step foot on the brake or lift off the accelerator. The energy is recycled rather than being lost as heat or noise from the brakes. This is specifically efficient in stop-start traffic where the system retrieves and stores a great deal of energy. This makes the vehicle more efficient.

What Makes Toyota Successful

Toyota is not just a leader in hybrid tech. It is also the leading automaker around the world. This more than 75 years old Japanese auto company is one of the world’s most respected and relied upon car brands. 


Just like its hybrid tech, the company’s success is not an accident. It has been achieved through bold moves, resolute commitment to innovation and high-quality design. 


Toyota produced some of the greatest sports cars ever, and it is also known for the impressive dependability and class of their economy sedans.


Aside from being known as the company that brought hybrid tech to the forefront of the market, Toyota is also able to produce well-loved heavy-duty truck vehicles like the Tacoma and FJ Cruiser.


Toyota’s expertise is not limited to one field. The carmaker has gone beyond the limits on multiple fronts and redefined what consumers expect from vehicles. 


A huge period of growth for Toyota was the 1960s. The Japanese automaker created ties with Europe and started successfully exporting cars there. Its sales were also doing extremely well in Australia, being their largest export market at the time. 


In 1965, the Sport 800 was launched and a new tone was set for Toyota. That year was a big year for the company. The Sports 800 was their first sports car which was a preview of a number of high-performing cars to come. 


The popular Toyota Corolla also came in the late 1960s. It would go on to be the best-selling passenger car of all time.


Toyota was able to export 1 million cars around the world by 1970. By this time, it was already establishing its name in the automotive industry.


Its design and engineering teams continue to develop state-of-the-art cars that have become some of the most popular cars in the U.S. today. Great examples of which are the Prius, RAV4, and Avalon which were launched in the 1990s. Toyota’s international sales surpassed 3 million units per year.


Within a decade, more than a million Prius had been sold worldwide, the Camry had become one of the most popular sedans, and a number of Lexus’ (its luxury brand) most popular cars were launched such as the GS and IS.


New Toyota Models, which are known to be fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly, like the compact Yaris and Matrix hatchback were introduced in the early 2000s.  


In 2010, the FJ Cruiser joined the lineup, once again expanding Toyota’s audience, becoming a favorite off-roader vehicle. 


Continuing to lead in the hybrid tech arena, Toyota widened its Prius offerings, and also introduced hybrid versions of other Toyota models like the Corolla and RAV4. Prius remains the most popular and best-selling hybrid around the world. 


Conclusion on Why Toyota Leads the Way in Hybrid Tech

Since developing the first-ever mass-produced hybrid vehicle, Prius, Toyota has not stopped improving its hybrid vehicles. They are the ones to beat when it comes to hybrid technology. Their hybrids have done well in terms of sales and they also offer different hybrid models from compact, mid-size, and full-size sedans to mid-size and full-size hybrid SUVs, to cater to different audiences. Toyota leads the way in hybrid tech and has the advantage in that field.


Toyota has remained true to its vision of “commitment to quality, ceaseless innovation, and respect for the planet.” This is reflected so well in the kind of products they have produced and their dedication to hybrid technology. Toyota is most likely the car brand that has the most electric kilometers driven.


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