By on March 11, 2014

2014 Toyota Prius v

The father of the Prius and Toyota chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada foresees hybrid sales climbing from 13 percent of global sales today to 20 percent in the near future.

Automotive News Europe reports that while hybrids make up a good part of sales in the United States and Japan, they are currently a niche market in Europe in the face of equal- or better-performing diesels with lower price tags. However, Uchiyamada believes so strongly in his forecast that he didn’t factor plug-in hybrids in to his forecast, nor give a separate outlook for plug-ins.

Speaking of plug-in hybrids, Uchiyamada believes the key to success lies in higher volumes, especially among suppliers:

Suppliers need higher volumes to slash costs of components specific to plug-in models, including batteries that should be bigger and more capable than the ones used in traditional hybrids.

Regarding the Prius, Uchiyamada said the project — known as Project G21 — was a challenge, beginning with the proposal that the future Prius would net “one and a half times better fuel economy than anything that had existed before,” only to be told by top management to double the proposed number. Then, after a successful debut at the 1995 Tokyo Auto Show, he and his team spent 49 days trying to get the proto-Prius to move, finally doing so near the end of that year, “but only for 500 meters.”

Today, with 25 hybrids between Toyota and its premium brand Lexus, as well as a global total of over 6 million hybrids sold, Uchiyamada may have aged out of the title bestowed unto him regarding the Prius:

Maybe I am the grandfather by now.

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26 Comments on “Uchiyamada: Hybrids Soon Reaching 20 Percent Of Global Sales...”


  • avatar
    Quentin

    Surely he is just talking about Toyota’s global sales. I could see 13% of Toyota’s global sales being hybrids currently, but definitely not across all automakers.

  • avatar
    wumpus

    I’d not only believe it, but I’d also tell him to “double his number” (to 27%, twice the improvement. I’m assuming that nobody at Toyota seriously believed you could triple a camry’s gas mileage).

    20% global sounds pretty easy, assuming current progress in batteries (a fairly big “if”). On the other hand, I’d assume that plenty of the current sales are those silly “hybrid for the sticker” or “hybridize it”. A system like the prius (or accord hybrid) makes sense: just stuffing an electric engine in a gas car means a tiny bump in power (that could be achieved cheaper just about any other way on anything but the highest output engines) and no efficiency gains (likely some other means of efficiency is used to make it look semi “green”).

    There was a question about a hypothetical “1000ftlb” truck. That’s what, two spark motors and a V6? Note that using a prius/volt style power adding transmission will go down to “infinite” gear, and keep pulling on a stump until the software cries uncle or the teeth are pulled from the gears. Can’t say if truck buyers will fall for the “1000ftlb” claim (true, but raw torque numbers are meaningless, and even more meaningless when coming from a non-IC engine).

    He also seems to ignore the idea of a hybrid diesels. Presumably Honda could simply drop in their 2.2l diesel (already used in an accord) into a hybrid accord. It might only sell where gas prices are even more through the roof than Europe, but it shouldn’t be too hard to design [yeah, I\'m assuming that any country that does that to the price of gas wouldn\'t be asinine about regulations, silly me.]. Since the diesels tend to dominate mileage above 40mph, this should be the best of all [mileage] worlds [don\'t look at the sticker price].

    • 0 avatar
      charly

      It is Toyota and they still use non-lithium batteries so you can drop the fairly big if. Also any improvement in batteries for the next 5 years is already discovered but not yet engineered

    • 0 avatar

      He’s not the only one to discount diesel hybrids. I wonder why that is.

      • 0 avatar
        charly

        Diesels are much more efficient that gas when the engine is lightly used (like idling for a stoplight, city traffic) so the difference in efficiency between hybrids and diesels isn’t that large. Cost is also a big reason as diesel hybrids get close to plug-in with gasoline range extender.

  • avatar
    redliner

    With more cars utilizing start-stop and micro-hybrid systems to meet emissions and economy targets, I would be surprised if any less than 50% of cars sold will be “hybrids” of some sort in the next 20 years. However “full hybrids” will probably remain a niche.

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      Weight savings will play a role, but you are definitely right that start/stop and micro hybrids will define the market.

      Full-on hybrids like the Prius don’t make economic sense to most drivers. But very few drivers would NOT benefit economically from start/stop or micro hybrid applications, even today. The payback of the smaller systems is pretty low.

      The market for the full-on hybrid should continue to grow – it’s not even close to saturating the market for drivers that would benefit from them.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      “micro-hybrid systems”?

      That just gave me the possibly erroneous idea that there’s no universal definition of “hybrid”, is there? Could regenerative braking returning electrical energy to a backup or beefed up battery to drive accessories qualify? How about to run a supercharger? Unless there’s a hard definition, this prediction can easily be met.

    • 0 avatar
      wumpus

      While I think this might be true, I also think that “basic hybrid” will be like a prius or accord hybrid, and the “full hybrid” will be more like a Volt or extended Tesla (or at least have Tesla power).

      While the battery/motor/charger bits are complicated and expensive, look at the accord hybrid vs. accord: no transmission (well, one clutch). An automatic transmission is probably the most complicated consumer item in existence (dual clutch and CVT being worse), and the accord doesn’t have one and the prius has no clutch or unmeshing gears. Hybrid drivetrains are getting cheaper and cheaper. Automatic (and related) transmissions got cheaper in the 1960s-1970s.

      These systems could easily take over the mainstream market, unless some unforeseen thing makes CVTs cheaper and simpler.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    Listing of the 10 “cheapest” hybrid cars in the EU.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/picturegalleries/9475580/The-10-cheapest-hybrid-cars.html?frame=2310219
    About $44k for a Prius.
    Note that two have diesel engines.
    The EU countries subsidize diesel fuel below the price of gasoline making the more expensive to buy diesel a strong seller.

    • 0 avatar
      charly

      It is a bit meaningless if Hybrids are expensive without knowing the price of other cars, the way the tax system works and it is only the UK and not Europe as specific models and prices differ in different countries.

      ps. The price difference between a Yaris, 5 doors automatic and a hybrid 5 doors Yaris is 355Euro in the Netherlands. I do think you will get that back in gas consumption even if you drive only a little. If you get a company car in Holland i doubt you want a non hybrid one.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @RogerB34
      Europe does not subsidise diesel.

      It’s more expensive than US or Australian diesel and these are taxed higher than gasoline.

      European diesel is taxed, not subsidised.

      • 0 avatar
        charly

        Taxing something less than something near equivalent is subsidizing in my eyes. But to compromise and not go into a discussion about definitions i would suggest a change in the offending sentence.

        Most EU countries financially favor diesel fuel so its price is below that of gasoline making the more expensive to buy diesel a strong seller.

        • 0 avatar
          jimbob457

          The USA had long taxed diesel motor fuel more than mogas because it is mostly used in long haul trucks. In that application diesel engines are so superior to gasoline engines that diesel users practically have to pay the extra tax. It is more of a tax revenue maximization issue. Diesel engines in light vehicles are discouraged, mostly because they are so dirty.

          In Europe and some other places, highly-engineered turbocharged diesel engined small cars and light trucks make sense because if lightly driven, they can get amazing fuel economy and are fairly cheap to build.

          This addresses the major system externality in these regions which is the lack of security of their fuel supply. Libya, Russia and the Middle East go down for a year or two? Nie problema. Just slow down and muddle through.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            In the US, the tax difference between gasoline and Diesel is incremental, average is around 9 cents per gallon, less than three percent. There are a number of European countries that tax Diesel significantly less than gasoline, though the spread is narrowing.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I think today’s hybrid technology already makes sense for the average driver, but the payback period is longer than many want to wait. The Toyota Prius has a cost per mile below the most bare-bones economy cars, but it is much nicer over all. Let’s say you compare a reasonably nice 30 mpg non-hybrid that costs $20,000 with a Toyota Prius that costs $26,000 and gives you 50 MPG. Over the first 100,000 miles, the non-hybrid uses 3,333 gallons of gas. At $3.60/gallon that’s $12,000. The prius uses 2,000 gallons over the same distance, that’s $7,200. That’s a $4,800 difference. We’re not at $6,000 yet, but at 100,000 miles, the Prius actually isn’t even at middle age. The Prius likely holds a resale edge over the nonhybrid of at least $1,200, but even if it isn’t sold, over the next 100,000 miles, the Prius would save another $4,800 over the non-hybrid.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      The assumption of a $6000 initial gap is too much. It’s more like $2000~3000 as compared to a Matrix of similar trim level.

      Gas price does go up too.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      Perhaps there are more drivers like myself out there who would 1), rather send their money to the Japanese for sophisticated machinery rather than to the international oil mafias be they corporations or nations, 2), do care about reducing their carbon foot print, and don’t really care about “payback”.
      Doubltess I am in a small subset of drivers.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @Conslaw
      If government incentives are taken out of the EV/Hybrid market, what would the cost of these vehicles be?

      So, even with the subsidisation of these vehicles the payback is a lot longer than what you are saying.

      How many years will it take the US to pay down it’s debt? This money is also used to subsidise EVs/Hybrids.

      When and a big if these types of vehicles become mainstream what will their true cost be? Even with a large market they will always be much more expensive than a comparable ICE vehicel.

      As this article points out diesels are very competitive with hybrids for energy use and are a damn sight cheaper.

      So are we wasting money trying to create an artificial market. If they are viable then let market forces dictate sales numbers.

      We are wasting money, this EV/Hybrid subsidy money could be better spent on road infrastructure, gas or nuclear power generation to make a country more competitive.

      • 0 avatar
        charly

        A deficit is a problem (Not true, a debt that is a growing share of GDP is a problem but everybody knows and acts that way anyway) A current account deficit is a BIG problem. One has a simple solution (print money or slightly more difficult tax) but current account deficits have only hard solutions. So increasing the deficit by a measure that lowers the current account deficit is good governance.

        Importing oil is a big cost for countries and a big very part of their current account problems (oil is a major part of Americans current account deficit). Lowering it by financial favoring hybrids (See Mongolia with their 0% import tax on second hand hybrids) or small cars (done by just taxing the hell out of all cars) is smart.

        People don’t buy the car they need (an Aygo is what 99% of the people need) but what they can afford (see monthly payment and the much bigger cars people own) so shifting demand by favoring financially one type of car over another type wont change car use that much (the US government needs to use subsidies because state government tax cars, not Washington. Normal countries just use different tax rates which is much cheaper and effective)

        A hybrid $40k car is just as expensive as a comparable $40k ICE car so no, hybrids are not more expensive than ICE cars except for the bottom of the new car market as $10k ICE cars exist but $10k hybrids don’t. Luckily that market is not large in the West

        European car makers are good at making diesels. That is one of the reasons why diesel is supported in Europe. They are not good at making hybrids so it is not surprising that the countries that support hybrids (Netherlands & Norway) don’t have a car industry

        ps. I would assume that you won’t call Mongolia not taxing importation of second hand hybrids subsidization.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @charly
          Do you or are capable of managing a balanced household budget? Judging by your comments above you can’t.

          The only way for a $40k hybrid to be as good as a $40k ICE car is it requires subsidisation. So, how much is that so called $40k hybrid? $60k? So your $40k hybrid is actually a $60k vehicle.

          This leads me to believe a $40k hybrid is only as good as a $25k-$30k ICE car.

          You can try and bull$hit your views which are heavily based on left wing politics and economics.

          But the reality is if a country has to borrow money to create an artificial market to sell a product, then the product is not viable.

          The product is of no benefit to a nation. It’s only benefit is a warm and fuzzy feeling some middle class person gets driving it to work. Because no American who earns $10 and hour can afford one.

          Why should people of a country pay taxes and have a country borrow to support an unprofitable industry.

          I suppose you greenies and socialist can’t see the forest through the trees.

          What is needed is the left to gain some common sense.

          • 0 avatar
            charly

            I can manage a budget but people are different from entities that can be immortal like companies or governments. But even then i have more debt than MONEY like most people (Houses, cars, stocks etc are not MONEY) Companies are often run to keep debt to capital or gross or profit stable so debt grows when companies grow and with inflation the almost always grow at least nominal. Government debt is a form of money and has features that make zero government debt something unwanted. I don’t have a clue what would be optimal but for an economy the size of Australia is will be at least 20%. Have 2% inflation and 2% growth and you need a deficit of .8%. You could also look at taxes and the fact that they are mostly postpaid while spending allocation isn’t (government 40% of GDP, 1 year, 2% inflation, also .8% deficit)

            $40k hybrid

            Seats 5, 4 doors, 4 wheels, brakes, engine, steering wheel

            $40k ICE

            Seats 5, 4 doors, 4 wheels, brakes, engine, steering wheel

            I don’t see much difference. Both says $40k car (sadly the most important for humans) and can do about the same. Seen from the viewpoint of the state a 40k hybrid is just as good a car as a 40k ICE. In fact it is a better car as it uses less imported/exportable oil.

            The state had to borrow money to build the interstate and all the other roads cars need so you want to say that cars aren’t viable?

            People who earn $10 an hour can’t afford new cars from their wages. But guess what, they don’t buy new cars.

            Most, if not all industry would be unprofitable at their current level and prices without tax brakes and subsidies.

            Hybrids have one gigantic advantages. They use less oil. Oil is the real current account currency and it is the deficit that MATTERS. So if you want less deficit you need to use less oil. There are three ways to do that. Less miles, smaller cars, more efficient cars. Less miles is bad because people use those miles to do things and most of those miles are good for the economy. Smaller cars is easy (just tax cars more and people will buy smaller) but if you have a car industry it means less money for the car industry and that is bad for the economy. So if you have a car industry than the solution is the hybrid (steered by taxes/regulation, see japan) People spend just as much on the car industry but the import bill for oil is less.

          • 0 avatar
            jimbob457

            @Al
            We have had this conversation before Al. In some markets there are sizable externalities, so for a market system to work with maximum efficiency, these have to be dealt with. Usually, this is not too hard to handle. For example, a mandated ‘best practice’ or ‘emission control standards’ work well for chemical and central electric power stations or waste water disposal or even cars, for that matter.

            Occasionally, though, in some markets it seems best to use taxation as the tool. This is what the heavily subsidized hybrids are all about. I don’t like the pissant little b*sterds any more than you do. I particularly don’t like their subsidy programs which depend on being able to correctly predict the future price of oil. The principle may be OK, but the execution maybe not so much.

            It is, relatively speaking, a dead cinch to predict the outcome of a mandated emission standard as compared to that of a tax subsidy for EV’s and hybrids.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Big Al, I know you are an expert on America, but you occasionally get your ideas mixed up. Regular hybrids haven’t had federal government incentives for quite some time. It expired on 12/31/2010. Plug-in EVs do have tax credits and it is scaled on battery size, but they simply don’t account for much market share. If you pulled trucks and SUVs/CUVs out of the mix, plug-ins are ~1% of the passenger car market. That puts them around 0.5% when you bring trucks and SUVs back into the mix. By comparison, hybrids, again, unsubsidized by the feds, sold approximately 5x the number of plug-ins in 2013.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        I’m not seeing that a Diesel car is less expensive than is a hybrid, at least not here in the USA. Compare the Chevrolet Cruze, which comes in both a gasoline and a diesel, with a Ford Fusion, which comes in both a gasoline and a hybrid version. The price difference between a Cruze Diesel and a similarly equipped 2LT is $3655, while the difference between a Fusion SE and a Fusion SE Hybrid is $3380. Despite being a larger, more comfortable car, the Fusion hybrid will return very similar highway MPG to the Cruze Diesel, and will use much, much less fuel in town. On top of that, since Diesel contains on the average of 15% more energy per gallon than does gasoline, the Fusion’s total energy usage is going to be 30%-40% less than the Cruze’s for most drivers.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      I have done a lot of similar calculations, and depending on the car you’re comparing it to, miles driven, etc, the Prius will “break even” relative to a say a 5-door Mazda3 or a Honda Accord LX in about 60,000-100,000 miles. But personally, I would just take the 3 or Accord LX because both are going to be a lot more fun to drive.

      Besides the inferior (but still fairly adequate for commuter car) driving dynamics, the Prius at times feels quite cheap. First, the car body feels tin-canish. I get reminded of this every time when I close the door. The resonance is ridiculous. The wind noise is quite high. Next, the base “Prius Two” model with a 24 grand MSRP does not even have an electric driver seat. Come on, this is a joke. To get a power seat, you have to get the “Prius Four”, with 28K MSRP. Suffice to say that, even though it’s a nice car, I don’t think I’d spend my own money on a Prius.


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