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 market research from ABI Research is questioning whether being the first to market will necessarily bring Toyota long term success.
While hybrid electric passenger vehicles have gained momentum through increased fuel economy and good performance, says ABI Research, 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, says the report.
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, says ABI Research.