How Toyota is tackling the recall crisis
Toyota Prius: The Japanese will build over a million hybrid vehicles this year. The plug-in hybrid is becoming more and more important
The bad news doesn’t stop there. Nevertheless, the Japanese have a good chance of coping with the setbacks with their hybrid cars.
Genfer Automobilsalon 2008: The focus of the VW stand is the study of a hybrid version of a Golf. The 75 hp diesel drive is combined with a 27 hp electric motor and should only consume 3.4 liters. The VW publication date is the end of 2009. That was in 2008, now VW is talking about 2013. IAA 2009: Toyota presents its Golf competitor Auris with full hybrid technology. 99 HP petrol engine plus 82 HP electrical unit. Toyota mentions consumption of 3.8 liters. This fall, it is available from dealers for just under 23,000 euros.
In the worst crisis in the company’s history, of all things, Toyota is driving up and away again. While the Europeans go from fair to fair and put their concept studies in the spotlight, the world’s largest car company with its eco-cars has long been on the market. And with the Auris, hybrid technology has finally reached the popular golf class, has become affordable and, above all, attractive.
Toyota urgently needs good news. The sale of models from the Lexus subsidiary in the USA just had to be stopped because there were problems with the steering. CEO Akio Toyoda still takes positive things from the debacle: “The crisis is a good lesson. In retrospect, we will say that it has led us to focus on customers and safety again. "
Despite the crisis of confidence, business is going well again, Toyota made a billion-dollar profit. To ensure that it stays that way, the group is banking on the future. “Our goal is to be the market leader in hybrid and electric vehicles,” says Toyota Vice President Takeshi Uchiyamada. For 2012 he announced pure electric vehicles, three years later the Japanese want to sell cars with fuel cells.
Volkswagen also wants to be number one in the race for the eco-throne. Group boss Martin Winterkorn promised: “We’ll get the hybrid drive out of the niche.” The VW Touareg is already on the market as a hybrid (from 73,500 euros). The Audi Q 5 will follow next year. The Jetta with the hybrid drive will follow in 2012, followed by the Golf and the Passat the following year. The new Mini will also roll out in 2013 Up with electric drive and the E-Golf.
Although everything seems to revolve around electric cars at the moment, the hybrid will dominate the future. “We’re going to see a big wave,” predicts car expert Ferdinand Dudenhoffer. “In 2025, only around 35 percent of cars will be powered by a purely internal combustion engine. The rest are a lot of hybrid models and a few electric cars. ”A new survey confirms this: 46.7 percent of Germans believe that the future belongs to the combination of a combustion engine with an electric motor. 37.2 percent rely on the pure Stromer.
Toyota is apparently right and swears by the hybrid drive. Uchiyamada says: "This has long been the most important technology in global automotive engineering and anything but a niche."
The Japanese will build over a million hybrid vehicles this year. The "plug-in hybrid", in which the battery can also be charged at the socket, is becoming more and more important. A Toyota Prius equipped in this way can then drive 20 kilometers purely on electricity before the petrol engine comes into action again. “We believe the plug-in system is a viable solution on the way to electrification,” says Uchiyamada.
Mercedes recognized this a long time ago. In about three years, the then new S-Class should have a system that can be charged at the socket. The luxury liner thus becomes a 3-liter car. But: Despite all the announcements, the German manufacturers will have a hard time catching up on Toyota‘s long lead. For too long they have played down the hybrid drive as a “marketing gag” and now have to rework under time pressure.
A study by the US institute Thomson Reuters gives cause for concern. Toyota then quintupled its patents in the field of alternative drive technologies between 2003 and 2008, and was number one worldwide in 2008 with 2,379 registrations, well ahead of Nissan, Hyundai and Honda. The only non-Asian was General Motors in 7th place.
The hybrid drive was once a German invention. Ferdinand Porsche designed the “Semper Vivus” for the Viennese company Lohner, which had two petrol engines and also had electric wheel hub motors. As it is today, the battery was able to temporarily store energy. Incidentally, that was exactly 100 years ago.
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