For many, plugging in and charging up your car is no longer a matter of when, but if, with the average retail value for electric vehicles exceeding $60,000, driving Toyota New Zealand to seek a more viable solution for their sustainability conscious private and fleet customers.
Following the recent launch of the Toyota Corolla Hatch Hybrid last month, Toyota NZ made no secret about its strategy to introduce used import Prius plug-in hybrids through its Signature Class vehicle refurbishment facility at Thames to address demand.
General manager of used vehicles and marketing Andrew Davis says: “There is a lot of interest in the wider community around electric powertrains, both in the media and in corporate New Zealand, so while Toyota New Zealand does not currently offer a model in its new vehicle range we have opted to import the Prius plug-in hybrid as a used vehicle, under our Signature Class brand.”
“Current new EV options can be expensive but we acknowledge the market is slowly gaining traction so we want to deliver a cost-effective option and tackle some of the apprehension around EVs and Plug-ins,” he says.
The vehicles are currently sourced from Japan, aged between two and four years and have travelled fewer than 25,000km. The Prius plug-in hybrid combines a 1.8-litre petrol engine with a 60kW electric motor.
The existing Signature Class refurbishment programme restores the Prius plug-in hybrids to new vehicle standards before fitting them with local audio and reversing camera, converting the dashboards from Japanese to English and replacing the existing Japanese owner’s manual with an English version.
The cars also receive a five-year warranty, including battery and powertrain, and undergo odometer certification and compliance checks by AA as part of the Signature Class process.
A key factor for Toyota New Zealand was ensuring there was adequate infrastructure available to support the alternative powertrain for their customers.
Charging stations are being installed at six Toyota dealerships across the country including Manukau Toyota, Auckland City Toyota, Hawkes Bay Toyota, Manawatu Toyota, Rutherford and Bond Wellington, and Miles Toyota Christchurch. These dealerships are the first to promote a specialist hybrid area, with more dealerships expected to follow.