Although Toyota introduced its hybrid-electric Prius to South Africa’s drivers in 2005 on wait-and-see grounds, it was the mainstream introduction of Lexus’ performance hybrids, from 2008, that really turned up the gas under the movement.
Typically conservative South Africans were initially reluctant to take a bite at the hybrid apple (perhaps restricted, too, by a lack of variety in the hybrid segment) but Toyota reports things are looking a lot better as more alternative-fuel competitors enter the market and the introduction of the emissions tax in September, 2010 required new owners to consider their cars’ CO2 emissions more closely.
The Prius initially had some convincing to do – remember it was only available to lease when it was first launched here? – but is now in its fourth generation globally and Toyota is much more assured of the status of its green-car poster child.
Things can only get better…
Toyota SA announced this week that the latest changes applicable to its Prius range (unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt auto show in September) would be introduced in South Africa in the first quarter of 2012.
Fans can look forward to a bunch of cosmetic changes, among them a revised bumper, new head and tail lights with LEDs and a new wheel design. New tech features extend to solar ventilation and remote-controlled aircon activation: the former uses solar panels in the roof to power the aircon while the latter allows you to set its temperature before you reach the car to avoid the horrible sensation of getting into a scorching car on a summer day.
HYBRIDS ALL AROUND
Despite the current lack of infrastructure, Toyota said it was also investigating the possibility of importing the Prius plug-in electric vehicle. Time will tell... Furthermore, since the recent introduction of its Auris HSD, Toyota plans to expand its mainstream hybrid offering with the introduction of a Yaris HSD in the second half of 2012.
MORE LEXUS HYBRIDS: A hybrid version will feature in the line-up when the all-new Lexus GS arrives in South Africa in 2012.
Toyota SA recently extended its battery warranty to eight years or 190 000km.
SPORTY ONES, TOO
However, Toyota’s primary goal is not merely about taking a solid stand on the future of our mobility, it also wants us to have fun getting there.
While the manufacturer, locally, showed it still has some athletic ambitions with the recent addition of a TRD model to the Auris range, it seems 2012 is a year to which true enthusiasts can look forward. Toyota affirmed that its two-litre, rear-wheel drive 86 sports coupe WILL reach South Africa in 2012. We can’t say when but Toyota SA claims it is already being inundated with queries for details.
The car was inveiled recently at the 2011 Toyko auto show by company president Akio Toyoda, who used the catchphrase "fun to drive - again". We suspect he's not the only one to feel that way about the 86...