If you have been paying attention to Toyota Motor Philippines’ marketing activities this year, you know that a huge amount of the company’s resources and efforts has gone to raising awareness of hybrid vehicles. In March, TMP kicked off its “HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle) Campus Tour” at Mapúa University. Two months later, the firm hosted a hybrid-electric technology conference for stakeholders, dealers and journalists.
Initially, it seemed as though the Japanese automaker was merely pushing its pair of hybrid models—the Prius and the Prius C—especially in light of the fact that it had sold just 200 Toyota-branded hybrid cars in our market in the last 10 years. What, in fact, the vehicle manufacturer was doing was paving the way for the arrival of the all-new Corolla Altis Hybrid, which, as you know, has officially been launched in the country at an introductory price of P1,580,000.
Those familiar with the prohibitive pricing of hybrid vehicles in our territory—due to the lack of essential tax breaks (save for the relatively new 50% excise tax exemption)—should immediately appreciate the Altis Hybrid’s reasonable pricing. Here, at last, is an electrified car with a tried-and-tested badge that could actually sell in the real world. Sure, it’s still somewhat pricey for a compact sedan, but it’s also a tad more affordable than the top variant of the recently introduced Mazda 3, which is equipped with just an internal-combustion gasoline engine.
Don’t forget that the Prius is now priced at P2,289,000, while the little Prius C goes for P1,907,000. No wonder this pair has failed to sell well. Seriously, who would spend that much money for supposedly green vehicles that are smaller than the Altis—just for the opportunity to demonstrate one’s love for the environment? It’s almost as if buyers of these hybrid cars get penalized for wanting to reduce their carbon footprint. It’s like you have to pay a premium for driving a “cleaner” automobile instead of getting compensated for choosing to do so.
With the arrival of the more realistically priced Altis Hybrid, experiencing clean and efficient motoring is no longer just a pipe dream. It’s now significantly more attainable for a wider market.
The Corolla Altis Hybrid—4,630mm long, 1,780mm wide and 1,455mm tall—is powered by a hybrid system that consists of a 1.8-liter four-cylinder VVT-i gasoline engine and an electric motor. As a combined unit, the electrified source of propulsion produces 121hp and 142Nm, delivered via a continuously variable transmission.
Standard equipment includes 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, 225/45 tires, LED headlamps, LED daytime running lights, front fog lamps, smart keyless entry, push-start ignition system, three driving modes (Sport, Normal and Eco), leather seats, power-adjustable front seats (eight-way for the driver and four-way for the passenger), seven-inch multi-information display (possibly the only low point among the features), CD/DVD/MP3 player, Bluetooth connectivity, smartphone mirroring (Apple and Android), four speakers and two tweeters, automatic climate control, 12V socket, USB port, electronic parking brake, automatic dimming rearview mirror, rear sunshade, seven airbags (two front, two side, two curtain and one driver-side knee), antilock brakes, vehicle stability control, hill-start assist, alarm with immobilizer, parking sensors and reversing monitor.
One of the main selling points of the car is the so-called Toyota Safety Sense, which is basically a collection of high-tech safety features (similar to Nissan Intelligent Mobility). It includes a pre-collision system, automatic high beam, lane-tracing assist, lane-departure alert and dynamic radar cruise control.
The Corolla Altis Hybrid, in other words, is pretty loaded. Which makes its fair price tag all the more impressive.
Finally, our market has a hybrid Toyota car that regular folks can own and drive. TMP is being conservative for now, projecting to sell just 14 units a month (7% of 200 units). If there are more sensible customers in the compact sedan segment who value both the vehicle’s specifications and its lower impact on the environment, we expect the figure to go higher. For the sake of the planet, we really hope it does.