Toyota to Launch Two PHEVs in China in 2018

At the 2016 Beijing Motor Show, Toyota has come to its senses... only just. The company is no stranger to plug-in hybrid tech, but it has been rather shy about offering PHEVs as alternatives to hybrid vehicles.
2011 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid 1 photo
Photo: Toyota
The only plug-in hybrid with a Toyota badge that’s worth buying in the United States is the 2017 model year Prius Prime, chiefly because that’s the only plug-in hybrid Toyota sells in the United States (and Canada) at the present moment. The lack of diversity isn’t the only problem of the Japanese brand.

Rewind to the 2016 New York Auto Show, the place where the all-new Prius Prime made its debut, and you’ll remember that something called the Hyundai Ioniq also made its North American debut there. That something in Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid form offers up to 125 MPGe according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which is 5 MPGe better than what the Prius Prime has to offer. In the wake of this unexpected embarrassment, Toyota has had enough.

Consequently, Toyota will launch two plug-in hybrid vehicles in the near future. The catch is that both models will be sold in China, at least in the initial stage. Here’s the manufacturer’s take on the matter:

"With plug-in hybrids representing the new benchmark for environmentally-friendly vehicles in China, the mass-market Corolla and Levin plug-in hybrid models will be launched in 2018."

Why is Toyota reluctant to bring these two tree-hugging babies in the United States? The answer to that question is as simple as it can be: it isn’t worth the effort because the Chinese government offers better purchasing incentives for plug-in hybrids. To qualify for the incentives Toyota aims for in the Middle Kingdom, a plug-in hybrid vehicle has to run on electricity for at least 50 kilometers (31 miles).

Care to guess how much the Prius Prime can go without firing up its internal combustion engine? 22 miles or 35.4 kilometers. As if that weren’t shameful enough, the Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid trumps the Prius Prime with 31 miles (50 kilometers) of all-electric range. Dearest Toyota, why can’t you put a little more effort into developing better eco-friendly vehicles for the North American market? Signed, everyone.
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About the author: Mircea Panait
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After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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