Hybrid vehicles certainly are gaining popularity, but they got off to a slow start. Toyota’s chairman, though, believes plug-in vehicles will catch on much quicker than original hybrids like the Prius did.
Takeshi Uchiyamada, known by some as the “father of the Prius,” expects to sell 1 million plug-in hybrids in less than the 10 years it took for Toyota’s conventional hybrids to hit the 1 million mark, according to Automotive News. The original Prius — which has changed quite a bit — launched in 1997, and is a big contributor to the 10 million hybrids Toyota has sold worldwide.
“Environmental awareness has become a bigger issue today than it was 20 years ago, and demand for environmentally conscious products has increased,” Uchiyamada told reporters in Japan on Wednesday at a launch event for Toyota’s second-generation plug-in Prius, via Automotive News.
The plug-in Prius launched in 2012 and has sold roughly just 75,000 units since. Despite those figures, Toyota believes the vehicle’s new model can reach 60,000 sales within a year. And although Toyota is serious about plug-ins, the company also has been focusing a lot on fuel-cell powered vehicles like the Mirai; however, a limited amount of hydrogen fueling stations remains a major obstacle.
Toyota’s biggest hurdle in reaching its lofty goals could be the sheer amount of competition it faces. With current emissions regulations tighter than ever, automakers are ramping up production of their plug-in hybrid and EV models, making the segment increasingly crowded.
Thumbnail photo via Toyota