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Toyota a pioneering driving force for hybrid motoring at SLM

PUBLISHED: 16:03 09 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:03 09 November 2018

The showroom at SLM Toyota's Norwich dealership in Delft Way. Picture: Andy Russell

The showroom at SLM Toyota's Norwich dealership in Delft Way. Picture: Andy Russell

Andy Russell

As diesel car registrations drop, more and more motorists are becoming aware of the benefits of hybrid cars and how easy they are to drive. Toyota’s pioneering role in hybrid technology means nearly half its total sales now combine petrol and electric power, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

SLM Toyota, which has dealerships at Norwich, pictured, Attleborough and Lowestoft, is running a hybrid test drive month so motorists can find out how easy they are to drive and how economical. Picture: Andy RussellSLM Toyota, which has dealerships at Norwich, pictured, Attleborough and Lowestoft, is running a hybrid test drive month so motorists can find out how easy they are to drive and how economical. Picture: Andy Russell

The downturn in diesel car registrations is driving motorists towards hybrid cars and electric vehicles (EVs).

This year diesel is down 30.7pc, petrol up 9.2pc but alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) – mainly hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles rather than pure electric cars – have risen 21.8pc.

But what is a hybrid car? How does it work? Toyota hybrids combine one or two electric motors with a fuel-efficient petrol engine, automatically switching between both power sources to match driving conditions. They can drive on battery power alone, charging up while braking, coasting or from the engine.

To encourage drivers to switch to hybrid cars, SLM Toyota is running a hybrid test drive month at its Norwich, Attleborough and Lowestoft dealerships. Simply test drive a hybrid, to find out how economical and easy they are to drive, and receive a £250 voucher towards the cost of a new one. Have your picture taken with your hybrid certificate, and posted on SLM Toyota’s Facebook page, and you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win a £500 hybrid voucher.

Hybrid cars now account for nearly half of Toyota's sales. Picture: Andy RussellHybrid cars now account for nearly half of Toyota's sales. Picture: Andy Russell

Jason Barlow, SLM Toyota franchise director, said: “Most people, once they have driven a hybrid, are very surprised how simple they are. So many people think you have to plug them in.

“A lot of people are scared about battery life but we have a courtesy Prius that has now covered 250,000 miles on the same battery. Prius and Auris hybrids are also very popular with private hire and taxi businesses.”

Some people still think hybrid technology is new but Toyota launched its first Prius in 1997 so, as a hybrid vehicle pioneer, has a wealth of electrified motoring experience.

Toyota’s hybrid electric vehicles now account for 47pc of its total European new car market, close to its target of 50pc by 2020. It has sold more than 12 million worldwide – two million of them in Europe. Last year it sold more than 400,000 hybrids in Europe – 38pc up on 2016.

Toyota C-HR crossover hybrid. Picture: Andy RussellToyota C-HR crossover hybrid. Picture: Andy Russell

He explained: “There are hybrid vehicles for everyone as they are available across most of our range. There is nothing scary about them.”

What petrol-electric hybrids does it now offer?

Yaris supermini.

Prius self-charging and plug-in family hatchbacks, the latter capable of up to 39 miles on a charge, CO2 emissions from 28g/km, up to 235mpg average and a petrol engine for longer distances.

Toyota Yaris supermini and RAV4 SUV hyrbids. Picture: Andy RussellToyota Yaris supermini and RAV4 SUV hyrbids. Picture: Andy Russell

Prius+ seven-seat people-carrier.

Auris hatchback and Touring Sports estate.

C-HR crossover.

RAV4 hybrid SUV, front or all-wheel drive.

Most Toyota models are available with a hybrid version. Picture: Andy RussellMost Toyota models are available with a hybrid version. Picture: Andy Russell

So what are the benefits of driving a hybrid vehicle?

Easy to drive – the hybrid system switches seamlessy and quietly between electric drive at lower speeds and petrol power when needed. All Toyota hybrid cars are automatics. Having owned a hybrid, customers rarely go back to non-electrified motoring.

Self-charging, no need to plug in – apart from Prius Plug-in, you don’t need to physically charge a Toyota hybrid. Excess power from the engine or produced while braking or coasting is recycled to charge the battery.

High MPG, low emissions – these fuel-efficient cars are well suited to urban, stop-start driving but capable of long-distance cruising. Many efficient Toyota hybrids boast best-in-class CO2 emissions for a lower carbon footprint.

Toyota Auris Touring Sports hybrid. Picture: Andy RussellToyota Auris Touring Sports hybrid. Picture: Andy Russell

Top tips for maximising hybrid MPG:

Keep in EV mode as much as possible by accelerating gently with light, consistent throttle pressure.

Eco mode improves efficiency by reducing aggressive throttle response.

Braking gently, and early, puts more energy back into the high-voltage battery for more EV use.

A simple graphic to show how Toyota hybrid cars work. Picture: Andy RussellA simple graphic to show how Toyota hybrid cars work. Picture: Andy Russell

Be aware how much energy is being used by checking the dials and hybrid information display.

Toyotas are known for reliability and longevity so, as requested by owners, it has created the High Mile Club with bronze, silver and gold-tinted stickers for vehicles that have covered 150,000, 200,000 and 300,000 miles respectively. Just post a picture of the odometer to the ToyotaUK Facebook page, on Twitter mentioning @ToyotaGB or Instagram with @ToyotaUK, using the hashtag #HighMileClub and Toyota will be in touch.

SLM Toyota dealerships are:

Delft Way, Norwich, NR6 6BB – 01603 480000.

Buckenham Road, Attleborough, NR17 1NB – 01953 458200.

Buckenham Road, Lowestoft, NR33 0AS – 01502 526700.

Find out more by visiting the SLM Toyota website.

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Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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