Currently reading: Toyota argues case for UK hybrid sales after 2030
The Japanese firm believes it can demonstrate its hybrid cars have a significant zero-emission capability

Toyota is pinning its hopes on the high percentage of zero-emission driving performed by its hybrids to persuade the UK government to allow the company to keep selling them here after 2030, head of UK manufacturing Richard Kenworthy has said.

The government has said only combustion-engined cars with a “significant zero-emission capability” can be sold in the UK after 2030 until the end of 2034, but it has yet to define what that means.

“What we can demonstrate is that 80% of the time and 50% of the distance is zero emissions for hybrids in urban environments,” Kenworthy told Autocar, referring to data taken from hybrid models on the road.

“Our message to the government is we believe hybrid is part of the solution that allows us to get carbon down as quickly as possible,” Kenworthy said, adding that he didn’t think the government would exclude hybrids.

Toyota currently builds hybrid Corollas in the UK, but has previously hinted that the government’s stance on hybrids will influence its manufacturing strategy. 

It will make a decision on the future of the plant in Burnaston, Derbyshire by the end of the year, Toyota Europe head Matt Harrison told Autocar recently.

Toyota corolla hybrid 2022 front quarter tracking

Harrison has criticised the government’s proposal to force manufacturers to sell an increasingly higher percentage of electric vehicles, rising to 80% by the end of the decade and 100% by 2035. “We don’t have an objection to the mandates, but we could be picky and say that – from a consumer’s perspective - starting the mandate so high and then having only 20% of the market open to hybrid by 2030 is a little concerning,” Harrison said.

Toyota has previously hinted that it might shut the Burnaston plant if it wasn’t allowed to continue to build hybrids there.

Several manufacturers, including Ford, JLR and Stellantis, have also warned that parts-sourcing rules introduced through Brexit could make it unviable to produce battery-electric cars in the UK. Stellantis warned of factory closures, such as Ellesmere Port and Luton. Prime minister Rishi Sunak yesterday told reporters that the government is "engaged in a dialogue" with the European Union about the rules.

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The government pushed back the decision to define what it means by significant zero-emission capability “in the wake of new evidence on technological and environmental uncertainty of plug-in hybrids”, it said in March. The government said it was concerned with reports that PHEVs produced dramatically more CO2 than official tests promised, citing a report from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). No mention has been made by the government whether it was still considering hybrids to be sold legally after 2030.

Toyota’s claim that its hybrids are zero emission “80% of the time and 50% of the distance” in urban areas was criticised by Brussels-based pressure group Transport & Environment. "Car makers are jockeying to ensure their hybrids can still be sold after 2030, but trying to pretend that standard hybrids have significant zero-emission capability is just silly," Ralph Palmer, electric vehicles officer at T&E UK, said.

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