Since the late 1990s, Toyota has kept expanding its range of hybrid models which are also available with the Lexus premium brand.

Older people may recall that the world seemed cooler when they were small but today, there is a feeling that it’s hotter than what they experienced. This has actually been happening over the decades and one of the causes is the accumulation of carbon dioxide (CO²) in the atmosphere. This gas is known as a ‘greenhouse gas’ and it traps infrared radiation, thereby causing the air to be hotter.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were also identified as another cause of global warming. These are generated from the gas used in air-conditioning systems and as propellants in aerosol sprays.

While CFCs were banned from the beginning of the 21st century and replaced with CFC-free alternatives, it’s still hard to stop CO² in the same way as car engines generate it in the exhaust gases. It’s a by-product of the internal combustion the produces power to run the car and while catalytic converters have been able to stop the poisonous gases also in exhaust emissions from getting into the air, CO² is not prevented.

One way to reduce CO² emissions from cars has been to reduce combustion activities. The internal combustion engine can’t be banned yet so the next best step is to reduce its CO² emissions and this is one of the benefits of the hybrid powertrain or electrified powertrain. Back in the early 1990s, Toyota saw this as one way to help the environment and address the issue of global warming and it put in a massive R&D effort to develop hybrid powertrains which incorporate an electric motor that operates whenever possible, thuis reducing combustion activities and therefore exhaust emissions.

Since the introduction of Prius in 1997, Toyota has worked at improving the technology as the basis for its electrification efforts, having launched first mass-produced Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle, the Mirai, in 2014, the fourth generation of the Prius in 2016, and the second-generation Prius Plug-In Electric Vehicle in 2017.

Since introducing the first mass-produced hybrid system in the Prius in 1997 (top), Toyota has constantly improved the powertrain to provide better all-round performance. Battery packs (the first generation is shown on the left above) have also become smaller and lighter while being able to store more energy.
The next step in electrified vehicles is the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle and Toyota is already producing the Mirai FCV (pictured below) for sale in selected markets.

It reached a major milestone in annual sales of electrified powertrains in 2017 with over 1.52 million sold worldwide. The figure was an increase of 8% over the prior record set in 2016, marking back-to-back years of growth and accomplishing one of Toyota’s Environmental Challenge 2050 targets by selling more than 1.5 million electrified vehicles in a single year. This achievement is 3 years in advance of the original target that had been set for 2020.

Additionally, cumulative sales of electrified vehicles now exceed 11.47 million units worldwide since the late 1990s. By Toyota’s calculations, that would have resulted in a reduction of more than 90 million tons of CO² being emitted compared to sales of equivalent conventional vehicles.

In Malaysia too, UMW Toyota Motor has been selling hybrid models since 2009, starting with the 3rd generation Prius and then assembling the Camry Hybrid locally since 2015.

The company will continue the development and diversification of electrified vehicles as it now turns its sights to include the production of more battery electric vehicles from 2020, starting in China and India, followed by Japan, the USA and Europe. Toyota also aims to further expand sales of hybrid electric vehicles in emerging markets to further contribute to lowering CO² emissions from new vehicles sold worldwide.

“In just over 20 years, we have seen electrified new vehicle sales increase from under 500 sales to more than 1.5 million sales,” said Shigeki Terashi, Executive Vice-President of Toyota Motor Corporation. “This is a testament from our customers to the quality, durability and reliability of our electrified powertrains, and, thanks to them, has led us to establish a solid and sustainable foundation for mass producing a more diverse portfolio of electrified vehicles across our range moving forward.”

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[Chips Yap]

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