Drivers like them because they save money on gas and have less of an environmental impact.
With the high price of gasoline, sales for hybrid vehicles are increasing at Findlay Toyota in both Flagstaff and Prescott.
Flagstaff residents Tom and Ellen Grabarek are among those making the transition from gas-powered cars. “I was hoping to buy a hybrid when I turned 70,” said Ellen. “But that wouldn’t be for another year and a half, so we decided to go ahead and get one now.”
The couple purchased the 2022 Toyota RAV4 hybrid SUV, which Findlay Toyota Flagstaff Sales and Leasing Consultant Joe “Jotini” Gray says is the country’s best-seller. “It’s a great combination of all-wheel drive and mileage and has been incredibly popular everywhere. It’s a very versatile car, especially in the snow and on Forest Service roads, so it’s perfect for Flagstaff. The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid crosses every demographic, including young families, and there’s even room for the dog in the back.”
Brian Landauer, general manager of Findlay Toyota Flagstaff, says Toyota is the world leader of hybrid and electric vehicles, as Toyota invented the first generation Prius.
Landauer said hybrids are more popular than fully electric cars because drivers worry about running out of power on long trips. With a hybrid, he says drivers can go from Flagstaff to Los Angeles and back without having to charge their batteries. When hybrid vehicles get low on battery power, the vehicle automatically switches over to gas.
“The vehicle does it all on its own. Most customers never feel the system working. You just plug it in and go,” he said.
New hybrid vehicles also are less expensive than they used to be, ranging from about $24,000 to $40,000. In 2021, Toyota sold 2.5 million hybrid or electric vehicles; 17 million since they became available. Drivers like them because they save money on gas and have less of an environmental impact.
Hybrid models available at Toyota include the Prius, Corolla, Camry, RAV4 and Highlander. Within a year, Toyota expects more hybrids, including the Tundra, the first full-sized SUV Sequoia hybrid and the sporty bZ4X. “We are focusing on the hybrids until the battery issues are worked out,” he said.
Currently, batteries are guaranteed for 125,000 miles. Landauer says he expects electric vehicles will be more practical for long-range driving in about five years as technology improves.
Like many businesses, Toyota’s production of electric and hybrid vehicles has had inventory challenges during the pandemic as production slowed 20% to 30%. However, the number of charging stations for electric vehicles is increasing.
So far, hybrids and electric vehicles make up less than 3% of the global market. “It is a relatively new technology,” he said, adding that electric and hybrid vehicles are about the same mechanically as other vehicles, although the brake pads and rotors last longer in the hybrid and electric vehicles. “We use regenerative brake pads and rotors.”
Landauer said the hybrid and electric vehicles perform at a higher level than other vehicles and do better than gas-powered vehicles at high altitudes. “These vehicles are more peppy. There is no downside to having a hybrid. That’s why they are so popular.” FBN
By Stan Bindell, FBN