FOCUS ON: TOYOTA
When most manufacturers were pushing diesels, Toyota chose a different route. It championed hybrid power long before such technology was established in the automotive mainstream, although it also offered diesel models (and still does in a handful of model ranges).
✪ STAR CAR ✪
WHAT IS IT? Britain’s best-selling hydrogen fuel cell car – by far.
No CO2 from the exhaust at all, just water vapour.
WHAT’S IT POWERED BY?
A 152bhp electric motor, which is fuelled by electricity directly from the fuel cell stack or from the fuel cell and on-board battery.
HOW FAR WILL IT GO ON A TANK? The range is just over 340 miles (NEDC). Independent road tests have found 300 miles or so to be achievable in real-world driving, beating the majority of battery electric vehicles by some margin. And refuelling takes just three minutes or so – provided you can find a hydrogen filling station.
IS IT TAX-EFFICIENT? It is. Given that it emits no carbon dioxide at all, the Mirai sits in the 0% band for 2020/21, and the 1% bracket in 2021/22. But however cheap it is for the end user, it’s an expensive car to buy or lease. The list price is £66,000, and monthly leasing rates are in the £1100-£1300 bracket.
Today, Toyota takes an increasingly diverse approach to green powertrains. Self-charging hybrids are still a huge part of the mix, along with plug-in hybrids. And in the Mirai, Toyota has Britain’s most popular hydrogen car.
Perhaps surprisingly, Toyota has been comparatively slow to embrace pure EVs, but they are coming soon.
THE HYBRID PIONEER
No fewer than 10 Toyota models are either hybrids, or have a hybrid version within the range. The Prius is the car on which Toyota’s reputation as a hybrid-power specialist is founded, and it’s now in its fourth generation.
Powered by an Atkinson cycle 1.8-litre petrol and a 53kW electric motor, the Prius emits as little as 78g/km of carbon dioxide (NEDC correlated) on 15-inch wheels, rising to 82-85g/km for cars with 17-inch alloys. For cars with the smaller wheels, that puts it in the 20% Benefit-in-Kind tax band for 2020/21.
Whereas once it was a standalone model, the Prius is now a family of cars. The Prius Plug-In Hybrid model name makes up in clarity what it lacks in imagination. With a much larger battery than the regular Prius, and two electric motors instead of one, the Plug-In is capable of over 30 miles running as a pure EV. The 29g/km CO2 figure puts it in the 12% CO2 band in 2020/21 for cars registered before April. It makes a lot of fiscal sense.
Toyota has been slow to embrace fully electric cars, but that’s about to change. Over the next two years, Toyota and its luxury brand, Lexus, will launch three pure EVs globally.
The first is set to be a super-compact two-seater, shown at this year’s Tokyo motor show. But this tiny vehicle, built to suit Japan’s micro-car regulations, looks to be a better fit with Toyota’s home market than the UK.
However, Toyota has committed to accelerating the electrification of its range, pledging that it will sell 5.5 million electrified vehicles by 2025. A plug-in hybrid RAV4 (right) is also confirmed for 2020.