Toyota Motor Co. may give some of its hybrid cars a higher profile, according to a published report. Toyota is looking at new designs for rear tailgate badging and front and sides for the hybrid versions of the Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX330 SUVs.
Currently, the hybrid versions and the gasoline powered models look almost identical. The hybrid Lexus is called the RX400h, denoting the fuel efficient gas and electric engine. Under the hybrid Highlander’s rear badge is a tiny plate with “Hybrid Synergy Drive.”
Toyota said its initial research showed potential customers didn’t want to stick out just because they were driving a hybrid, Lexus spokesman Bill Ussery told reporters. But feedback from customers since the vehicles went on sale earlier this spring convinced Toyota that the hybrid buyers want some greater visibility to the fact they are driving a more fuel efficient vehicle.
Toyota’s best-selling hybrid, the Prius, does not have a gasoline-only powered version so it stands out as a hybrid more easily. Because of the high demand for hybrid vehicles, Toyota Motor Sales USA President, Jim Press, revealed that the automaker is in the process of developing 10 new hybrid electric vehicles. During the Center for Automotive Research Conference in Traverse City, MI, Press stated “To us, it’s not just a passing phase but a vital technology for the 21st century”. Officials with Toyota announced that the company hopes to sell approximately 1 million hybrids worldwide by the beginning of the next decade, with more than half targeted for the U.S.