Toyota's Chinese Hybridization
The Chinese government has been getting serious about controlling the emission and consumption of its rapidly growing fleet. Local manufacturers such as BYD and foreign joint venture partners are quick to rise to the occasion. Toyota’s Chinese joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile launched today a hybrid version of the Camry. The Camry is well liked in China, more than half a million of the non-hybrid version have been sold in China between its launch there in June 2006 and the end of February 2010. The hybrid Camry Hybrid won’t come cheap.
It will carry an MSRP between 319,800 yuan ($46,800) and 364,800 yuan ($53,400). It will be a tough sell. The Camry is Toyota’s 5th hybrid in China, joining the Prius, launched 2005 as the first hybrid vehicle in China, followed 2007 by the hybrid version of the Lexus LS600, the Lexus RX400h SUV, and the Lexus GS450h sports sedan, launched in 2009.
That is expensive. They are selling the base model Hybrid here for $AU40,952.00 ($US38,031.00) drive away including all taxes etc..) and the top of the range for $AU44,072.60 ($US4929.00). The cars are built locally as well, which means that the Chinese buyer needs to get very good deals to knock down that price.
The base Camry starts at 182,800 yuan (~ $26,700 USD). I don't see the Chinese paying a 135,000 yuan premium for the Hybrid version. They could buy a base Corolla with that.
Well, actually, it's not expensive at all. Cars cost more in China. I am talking about comparable anyway. Only local JV ones are cheap. Import models are typically in the 1USD=10~20RMB range. For example, an Acura MDX would cost RMB 800k~900k in China but only US$40~50k in the U.S. The Camry hybrid, even though produced in a JV, costs more due to the fact that a lot of components need to be imported.
The price seems high to those of us in USA or Canada because we get decontented cars from the Japanese companies in our countries. The Camry sold in China likely has features on par with a Lexus ES350 sold in our market. A fully loaded ES has an MSRP in the low forties. Adding a couple grand since it's a hybrid brings it pretty close to the $48K starting price in China. Plus, there could be higher tariffs in China. Finally, a car of this size is probably mostly purchased by well-to-do people in China, allowing Toyota to jack up the price further.