(CNN) — The Toyota Camry, the best-selling car in America, is going hybrid-only.
The Camry is available in a hybrid version now, but the redesigned 2025 Camry will be offered only as a hybrid car combining a gasoline engine with electric motors.
It will join a number of other Toyota models, such as the Sienna minivan, Venza SUV, the Sequoia full-sized SUV and others in being available only as a hybrid. And, of course, there’s still the Prius.
The decision to go hybrid-only on the Camry points up how accepted the technology has become. Once a novelty found on only a few models – and mostly of interest during gas price spikes – it’s become much more mainstream. So much so that Toyota, a company not known for taking big risks, feels customers are ready to go hybrid-only on this very mainstream sedan.
“We’ve been putting electric motors and batteries in vehicles since the first Prius back in 2000, so it’s a space that we know and love,” Mike Tripp, group vice president for Toyota marketing, said in an interview with CNN.
Toyota has said that it plans to offer a hybrid version of every vehicle in its line-up. There are only three Toyota models – the 86 and Supra sports cars, and the 4Runner SUV – without a hybrid option or that have no hybrid version announced.
Making the Camry hybrid-only is a big step. The Camry has been the best selling car – that is, one that’s not a truck or SUV – in America for the past 22 years. Along with the Prius, it’s probably the model most associated with the Toyota brand.
It has been available in a hybrid version since 2007, but, starting with the redesigned 2025 model, that will no longer be just an option.
Making such a popular model hybrid-only might have been a radical step for other automakers, but it’s in keeping with Toyota’s long history with the the technology, said Tyson Jominy, an industry analyst with J.D. Power.
“It’s expected of Toyota,” he said. “I don’t think its really unconventional.”
The Prius was simultaneously cutting edge and kind of nerdy when it went on sale in the US in 2001.
It was one of the first hybrid cars sold here and, after a redesign a few years later, became the first truly popular hybrid car. Toyota soon began adding the technology to other models.
In the two decades since the Prius came out, Toyota’s hybrids have proven to be very popular. Even as vehicle prices, in general, have come down in recent months, customers are still paying as much as 2.5% over the manufacturer’s sticker price for Toyota’s hybrid models, according to recent data from Edmunds.com.
This is true even as customers are paying deeply discounted prices for all-electric vehicles, despite getting significant tax credits that aren’t available on most hybrids.
It’s not that the electric vehicle market isn’t continuing to grow, said Jominy. They’re reaching about 9% of all new vehicle sales now. Dealers are having to discount, though, because there are simply too many EVs available in a similar price range of around $50,000 to $60,000, he said.
Hybrids, meanwhile, are also much easier for customers to understand, since the vehicles require no change in an owner’s regular habits, said Jominy. They don’t need to be charged, just filled with gasoline, of which they use less.
“What’s crazy for me, demand on Sienna, demand on hybrid Corolla, demand on our new Grand Highlander hybrid, we added hybrid in June of this year to Corolla Cross, so yeah, demand continues to outstrip supply at this point,” said Tripp.
Toyota has been much more cautious than other automakers when it comes to all-electric vehicles. Toyota offers only two in the United States, the BZ4X and the Lexus RZ 450e, both SUVs. Toyota executives have long expressed skepticism about consumers’ willingness to embrace fully electric vehicles. They have also said that hybrids are a more effective use of expensive batteries, in terms of actually reducing overall carbon emissions from vehicles. More recently, the company has said it plans to pursue EVs more aggressively while still growing its line-up of hybrid models.
The new Camry, like most of Toyota’s other hybrid models, will not be a plug-in hybrid. Its four-cylinder engine, in addition to driving the car, will also charge batteries that will power two electric motors. All together, this system will produce up to 225 horsepower in front-wheel-drive models and 232 horsepower in all-wheel-drive versions. As with other hybrids, the batteries will also be charged as the car brakes.
Besides unveiling the new Camry Tuesday night, Toyota also revealed another new hybrid-only SUV model, the Crown Signia. It will be an upscale all-wheel-drive crossover SUV with styling similar to Toyota’s hybrid-only Crown sedan.
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