Toyota’s Chinese hybrid car efforts become intriguing
Is China the key to cheaper hybrid cars?
A few days ago I saw a picture of the Toyota Yundong Shuangqing hybrid, and didn’t really think much of it. A Chinese designed hybrid for the Chinese market seems like an obvious move for Toyota. And while China is an interesting automotive story, Chinese cars don’t mean much to me unless they have greater implications beyond the Great Wall.
Turns out; however, the Shuangqing hybrid could be about much more than China.
According to InsideLine, Toyota is now developing its new hybrid drive “primarily at its R&D center in Changshu, China”.
Toyota’s new hybrid drive has captured my attention since the debut of Toyota’s FT-Bh hybrid concept a few months ago at the Geneva Motor Show. The idea behind the FT-Bh concept is using common, cheap materials and production capabilities to create a cost-effective, streamlined hybrid production system. Additionally, the new hybrid drive also offers decreased weight, better aerodynamics, increased powertrain efficiency, and better thermal energy management and electricity savings.
Hence, the FT-Bh isn’t just a focus on a cheap city car that might one day challenge the Corolla’s worldwide success, but a road map for making all Toyota hybrid cars cheaper.
And now that Toyota is doing most of its development on its new hybrid drive in China, I cannot help but wonder is the FT-Bh coming soon to China? If Toyota is ready to significantly scale up its hybrid production, a cheap Chinese — and other Asian markets — hybrid seems like the perfect vehicle. While the Bh might not resonate in America, it could find success in China and throughout Asia. And if Bh success means cheaper hybrids for the rest of the world as well, then that $1000 threshold needed to push consumers from considering hybrid cars to actually buying them seems within reach.
Of course, on the other hand, maybe all this means is that Toyota is developing a new hybrid drive just for the Chinese market, so China doesn’t rip off Toyota’s best stuff. Either way, Toyota’s Chinese hybrid car efforts have become intriguing.