Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid teased in UMW Toyota Motor's announcement on hybrid electric plans for Malaysia
Remember when Toyota said it would invest in the local assembly of hybrid electric vehicles in Malaysia? UMW Toyota Motor followed up last week by saying that it would have more details this week. And now that seven days have passed, we seem to have a better idea of what model the Japanese carmaker plans to kickstart those plans with.
“For the immediate future, we are absolutely positive that the HEV (hybrid electric vehicle) is the most accessible and realistic choice for Malaysian customers in terms of practicality and infrastructure, with an enormous potential in Malaysia," said Akio Takeyama, deputy chairman of UMWT.
He added that it is a realistic bridge towards full vehicle electrification while the industry works on reducing costs and developing infrastructure for battery electric vehicles (BEVs).
Toyota insists that from production to the end of 10 years of service on the road, HEVs and BEVs are almost identical in their CO2 emissions, making the former equally effective as fully-electric cars given the current energy mix readily used in Malaysia. HEVs also do not require the setup of new infrastructure and are free of range anxiety concerns added Takeyama, making them ideal for markets that still have access to affordable fossil fuels like Malaysia.
Toyota's official press release was accompanied by a series of visuals promoting the USPs of the fourth-generation Toyota Hybrid Electric System used in its latest HEVs. And the silhouette in every image bears a stark resemblance to that of the Toyota Corolla Cross, verifying our initial suspicions that UMWT's hybridisation efforts for the local market will begin with the Corolla Cross Hybrid.
The Corolla-based SUV is scheduled for local assembly in the third quarter of 2021 after all. And the Hybrid variant is already on sale north of the border in the Thai market. With 45 different HEVs in Toyota's global portfolio, what comes next is anybody's guess. Though if UMWT's history is anything to go by, cars like the Prius and Camry Hybrid have been sold here before as CBUs.
UMWT has committed to investing an additional RM270 million into its (relatively) new manufacturing facility in Bukit Raja, Klang, which was built to the tune of RM2 billion itself.
“We have the right technology, the right products in support of the existing infrastructure and energy policies. We are in an ideal position to contribute to Malaysia’s ambition of becoming a hub for advanced technologies and to reduce its carbon footprint. This will be an important cornerstone towards ensuring future policies and the people are well positioned and prepared to accept vehicle electrification,” said Ravindran K, president of UMWT.