Hybrid and plug-in hybrid sales grew an impressive 30 percent to just over 400,000 in Europe last year, but the real impact in the midterm will be made by a new, fuel-efficient mild hybrids that are cheaper and less complex than full-hybrid powertrains, according to analysts and automakers such as Volkswagen and Renault.
By 2025 mild hybrids will capture 18 percent of the European market, IHS Automotive forecasts. That's compared with 6 percent for plug-in hybrids, 3 percent for full hybrids and 3 percent for full-electric vehicles in the same time frame.
Currently, the big growth is in full hybrids, largely because of Toyota's increasing success in Europe. Expanding a technology that is enormously successful in its home market of Japan, the automaker last year launched hybrid versions of the RAV4 and CH-R compact SUVs, which joined gasoline-electric versions of the Auris compact and Yaris subcompact hatchbacks already on sale in Europe.
Last year Toyota sold 232,699 hybrids across Europe, a rise of 47 percent from the year before, according to data from market researchers JATO Dynamics. Of those, 41,814 were the new RAV4 hybrid, putting it third behind the Yaris and Auris hybrid models. Lexus was the next biggest hybrid brand with sales of 41,372.
Apart from minicars, Toyota is committed to offering hybrid variants throughout its entire range, Toyota Europe CEO Johan van Zyl told Automotive News Europe last summer. The automaker wants hybrids to account for half of its total European sales by 2020, up from 31 percent at the time of interview. Van Zyl said he expected 70 percent of C-HR sales to be hybrid. The car is not available with a diesel engine. Now that Peugeot is winding down its diesel hybrid program, Toyota's rivals for hybrid sales in Europe are limited to Kia and Hyundai, which last year launched the Niro and Ioniq compacts, respectively. The Ioniq is also available as an EV.