Despite Canberra’s growing love of electric cars, hybrid vehicles are still dominating due to their convenience, good fuel economy and, of course, their smaller price tag.
Canberra Toyota Dealer Principal Mirko Milic said demand for hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) was strong, making up at least one in every seven vehicles sold in the Territory over the past 12 months.
“The popularity of hybrids has taken off big time over the past few years, mainly because of their convenience,” Mirko said.
“Hybrids offer better fuel efficiency than a regular combustion engine and, at the expense of some emissions, these cars will travel a normal distance with no need to charge.”
He said while Canberrans had access to charging stations in the Territory, driving their electric vehicle (EV) down the coast or further afield was sometimes a challenge.
“We’re finding that a lot of families are mixing and matching with two cars, one EV to drive short distances around town, and a hybrid or normal petrol/diesel car for their longer trips,” Mirko said.
“They want to do the right thing, but outside of Canberra, the charging infrastructure is not there to support EVs.
“The hybrids are self-charging, so they’re ideal for travellers and people who are time-poor.”
As well as good fuel economy and convenience, he said hybrids were generally cheaper than EVs, and their popularity also meant they were fetching a good price in the second-hand car market.
“The initial outlay is less than an EV and, because of their convenience, the resale value of a hybrid vehicle, to date, is very attractive,” Mirko said.
“EVs are relatively untried in the second-hand market, and many buyers still have some concerns about the battery life after time.”
While the COVID-fuelled car buying frenzy is over, Mirko said there was still a long waiting list – up to 18 months – for hybrid vehicles, including the in-demand Toyota RAV4, Corolla, Camry and Kluger.
“We’re still playing catch-up on many popular vehicles like the RAV4,” he said.
“The challenge with the pandemic and the war in Ukraine was that any vehicle, whether EV or hybrid, that had a certain amount of microchips in it, was delayed. Then all the global logistics made it worse.”
New car buyers are advised to order hybrid vehicles up to 12 months before they require them.
“Toyota is helping us to fill back-orders in Canberra because they realise there is such a high demand here,” Mirko said.
“We’re still getting a lot of enquiries, and my advice is to put your order in and get in the queue; that way, you’ll be next in line if another order falls through and something becomes available.”
Mirko said Toyota’s hybrid technology was “getting better and better” as it “mixed and matched” the size of engines and included turbo-charged models.
“They’re playing around with technology to make the cars more efficient, with less emissions and within a reasonable price,” he said.
“Hybrid technology is a proven technology and everyone is comfortable with it.”
While Toyota is a market leader with its hybrid vehicles, it will soon release its first full EV.
Mirko said car lovers were getting excited about the release of the new BZ4X that’s scheduled to hit the Australian market in February 2024.
“Toyota is manufacturing a variety of vehicles to meet the needs of different customers, whether they are driving around the city or towing a caravan,” he explained.
“The BZ4X is the first full EV for Toyota and will be available as a two-wheel-drive or all-wheel drive.”
Battery technology is constantly improving, and Mirko said Toyota was investing in battery research, which could see future EVs having double the driving range of current vehicles.
“They don’t want to leave anyone behind. If you’re towing a van, a farmer or working in the mines, the battery technology will be there to cater for everyone eventually,” he said.
If you’re thinking about a hybrid, speak with the team at Canberra Toyota, who can match the right Toyota to your specific needs.