Will Toyota Capture Lead in Heavy Hybrids?

New ABI Research report sees monetary savings through hybrid technology as a possibility, but one that will require dramatic reduction of initial costs that can only be achieved through mass production.

Published: 07-Jan-2005

Oyster Bay, NY - January 7, 2005 - With the success of hybrid electric passenger vehicles among consumers, attention is focusing on incorporating the technology into commercial trucks. Toyota's Hino Truck subsidiary will be the first to commercially offer an original-production heavy-duty hybrid truck chassis both in North America and Japan, but new research from ABI Research questions whether being the first to market will necessarily bring Toyota long term success.

Although hybrid electric passenger vehicles have gained momentum through increased fuel economy and good performance, hybrid commercial trucks won't sell so much on that appeal as they will from a discernable improvement in the total cost-of-ownership.

A new report from ABI Research, "Commercial Hybrid Electric Vehicles," which analyzes global market trends, finds that monetary savings through hybrid technology are a possibility, but would require a dramatic reduction of initial costs that can only be achieved through mass production.

"Other truck makers will produce hybrid vehicles by using a conventional chassis that is altered after-the-fact to include hybrid technology," says ABI Research analyst Dan Benjamin. "Just as in the consumer space, Toyota is jumping out ahead of the pack with a dedicated hybrid design for a commercial truck."

Hino's system is expected to be the least expensive hybrid truck available, which may make it the most attractive choice for the fleet buyer.

Despite an early offering, the Hino hybrid won't benefit from all the advantages Toyota has in the consumer space, because Hino does not enjoy the market presence in the commercial truck market that Toyota does with light vehicles. However, major market players like GM and Freightliner are not expected to have a production hybrid truck chassis available for several years. Companies such as Eaton, Azure Dynamics, and Pei/UQM have stepped in to fill the void by developing hybrids on top of other platforms. These solutions can be effective, but are more expensive due to lower volumes.

Founded in 1990 and headquartered in New York, ABI Research maintains global operations that support annual research programs, intelligence services and market reports in wireless, automotive, semiconductors, broadband, and energy. For more information please visit www.abiresearch.com, or call 516.624.2500.

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