In less than three years, Toyota will have 20 new or redesigned hybrids worldwide — plus a hydrogen fuel-cell car. That's what Bob Carter, who heads automotive operations at Toyota's U.S. arm, told reporters this morning. Carter spoke at the National Automobile Dealers Association/J.D. Power and Associates' 2013 Automotive Forum on the eve of this week's 2013 New York International Auto Show.
Despite the proliferation — if not the sales — of electric cars, Toyota believes "hybrids will remain a core technology" because they can be adapted to other environmental areas, Carter said. Given the number of cars from Toyota and its Lexus and Scion divisions, 20 hybrids seems like a more attainable goal than the automaker's gas-electric gauntlet thrown in 2006, which declared that every forthcoming redesign would include a hybrid version. Toyota backed off that pledge two years later.
Carter also promised radical changes for the next-generation Toyota Corolla, which the automaker presaged with the sculpted Corolla Furia concept at January's 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
"It's no secret that Corolla is very late in its life cycle," Carter said. "No one ever bought a Corolla because they thought they would look good driving it."
That could change.
"We have the engineering resources where we can design and engineer" the next Corolla specifically for the U.S. market, Carter said. Toyota has expanded those resources with its latest management shakeup, which gives regional leaders more latitude to build cars for their markets. That means newly elevated U.S. CEO Jim Lentz has the keys to build cars explicitly for the U.S.
What introductions would Carter like to see?
"I would love to see a sports car," he said. "I would love to see expansions to our truck lines."
Editor's note: This post was updated on March 29 to add the National Automobile Dealers Association to the list of the event's sponsors.