Toyota 86 hybrid could come after all

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Toyota says it will honour its promise to produce a hybrid variant of every model in its range by 2020, despite ruling out a petrol-electric version of its new 86 sports coupe in the short-term.

When Toyota launched the new 86 in Australia recently, chief engineer Testsuya Tada made it clear the lightweight rear-wheel drive sportscar would not be offered as a hybrid model, but Toyota Australia Corporate Manager for Product Planning Greg Gardner now says an electrified 86 could not be ruled out in the long term.

Tada-san said a hybrid powertrain would undermine the 86’s minimalist philosophy by adding weight and upsetting its handling balance, but Mr Gardner told motoring.com.au at the weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours that Toyota’s commitment to building hybrid a full range of hybrid models still stands.

“With regards to the 86, that was really a specific model to meet a specific need, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that in the future all our models wo't have a hybrid variant,” he said.

Toyota could potentially approach the situation in two ways: develop a hybrid 86 for 2020 and beyond, or kill off the sportscar altogether and replace it with another.

Mr Gardner stressed that if Toyota did develop a hybrid 86, its Australia arrival was not a fait accompli.

“Whether a model like the Toyota 86 hybrid would be offered in Australia (is another question)... This is a worldwide commitment (to developing a hybrid variant of every model in the Toyota range).”

Of course, that would include Toyota’s top-selling range of LandCruiser models, which have long made the Japanese brand Australia’s largest seller of diesel vehicles, so does this mean we'll see a Toyota LandCruiser hybrid?

“I think that's definitely the case,” said Mr Gardner. “I think we're going through the interim stages at the moment, where we're running with diesels as our alternative, which aligns well with trucks and SUVs. But then we'll ultimately go to hybrids.”

Mr Gardner said Toyota’s long-term hybrid plan has no place for diesel engines.

“I think in the long, long term future, absolutely there wo't be a place for diesel,” he said, adding that as hybrid and battery technology improves and global emissions legislation tightens, diesel engines will gradually be phased out.

 

Story reproduced from carsales.com.au

Words by Feann Toor, Monday 18th June 2012.