Prius man issues hybrid challenge to car-makers


Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada, who headed development of the Prius,
says car firms should step up their efforts on hybrids so cumulative US sales will reach five million in three years.

“It’s only when we put ourselves under the same kind of intense pressure we faced in developing the Prius that we can achieve great goals,” Uchiyamada said at the Economic Club of Washington, DC, yesterday. “I wish to call on the industry to sell five million hybrids in the US by the end of 2016.”

That’s 72 per cent more than the 2.9 million hybrids sold in the US until August. While he said the firm sees a lengthy future for hybrids, in the longer term, Toyota is betting on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The company plans to offer a fuel-cell saloon in the US in 2015.

Toyota is also making progress in developing autonomous vehicles, Uchiyamada said, though he cautioned that the first ones won’t allow drivers to “drink champagne and have fun” behind the wheel.

“The cars that are being tested right now, development is not being done to create that kind of driverless car,” he said. “At the end, each and every one of you will have the responsibility to drive that car.” – (Bloomberg)