Toyota plug-in hybrids coming to Australia, but only when they are affordable


High pricing is said to be the biggest hurdle to overcome before Toyota Australia brings in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.


Toyota Australia says it is committed to bringing in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) as it looks to electrify its entire line-up before 2030 – excluding high-performance cars – but only after the technology becomes more affordable for customers.

Speaking to Drive at the launch of the second-generation C-HR last week, Toyota Australia sales and marketing boss Sean Hanley confirmed a PHEV vehicle is in its plan, but wouldn’t be drawn on which model it will appear first.

“Between now and 2030 there will be some plug-in hybrids in our portfolio,” he said.

“What they are and how they look, I’m not ready to go there today, but there will be [an offering]. And the reason for that is because they are becoming, and will become even more so, a very credible alternative for Australian consumers.”

Globally, Toyota currently offers a plug-in version of the new C-HR – expected to account for 25 per cent of European sales – plus the popular RAV4, and the not-for-Australia fifth-generation Prius hatch.

Mr Hanley cited the high cost of producing a PHEV as the largest current hurdle stopping Toyota bringing the technology to Australia, but expects as prices drop, local customers will be more inclined to take another step towards full electrification.

“There are four points, and the three being the most important start with affordability, [the] second is practicality, and [the] third is it gives some relief on the fuel bill.

“And fourth, which is quite a way back, is environmental credentials, it has a positive impact.

“But the most important is affordability. Right now, most of our customers know ‘well I can buy a hybrid-electric Toyota in a RAV4 for just a few grand more’,” Mr Hanley said.

“A plug-in hybrid takes that quite a bit [further] up [in price] because the technology is quite a bit more expensive. I think if you look at the competitive landscape right now, you’ll know that.

“Therefore, it gets down to those three key elements, and the one that this one needs to be examined far more carefully and understood is the affordability side.

“Eventually, I think they’ll come down in price, but there is a premium for a plug-in hybrid, so we’d have to examine what that is and how that would fit into the market.”

Mr Hanley has also previously suggested plug-in hybrids would need to offer a longer electric driving range – closer to 200km, up from 50-100km today – to best suit Australian customers.

At current prices, the RAV4 Hybrid incurs a $2500 price premium over its petrol-only equivalent, the same difference also applied to the petrol-electric Corolla Cross and Kluger.

The Corolla sedan’s base Ascent Sport variant is $3050 dearer as a hybrid, while petrol and hybrid versions of the SX and ZR are $2500 apart.

On the other hand, the step-up between a petrol-powered Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross and its PHEV equivalent is about $13,000, while the larger Outlander PHEV is about $16,500 pricier than its petrol-only equivalent.

Even with the Lexus NX – the luxury twin to the RAV4 – the NX450h+ PHEV version costs $11,348 more of than the top-of-the-range hybrid NX350h F Sport.

It is expected the next Toyota RAV4 will continue with a PHEV powertrain overseas, which could be a prime candidate for the first plug-in hybrid to come to Australia from the country’s largest car brand given the popularity of the mid-size SUV locally.

The current RAV4 PHEV claims an electric driving range of about 67km from a full charge, and with a 225kW combined output, it is the most potent version of the mid-size SUV Toyota sells.

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Tung Nguyen

Tung Nguyen has been in the automotive journalism industry for over a decade, cutting his teeth at various publications before finding himself at Drive in 2024. With experience in news, feature, review, and advice writing, as well as video presentation skills, Tung is a do-it-all content creator. Tung’s love of cars first started as a child watching Transformers on Saturday mornings, as well as countless hours on PlayStation’s Gran Turismo, meaning his dream car is a Nissan GT-R, with a Liberty Walk widebody kit, of course.

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