Do you know that the Toyota Prius, which recently celebrated global sales of 3 million, has sold only a few hundred units in India since it was launched in the country in 2010? Do you also know that Honda had to drastically slash the price of its Civic Hybrid so as to get rid of the inventory before discontinuing the model in India? The fact is that even as the world takes to thriftier hybrid cars, these futuristic vehicles have not found many buyers in India. The reason, simply, is high sticker price. For instance, the planet’s favourite hybrid—the Toyota Prius—costs a steep Rs 36.6 lakh in India.
So last year when Toyota launched its second hybrid model in India—the made-in-India Camry Hybrid—I was hopeful that the car would give the Skoda Superb a run for its money. After all, Toyota priced the Camry Hybrid below the psychological level of R30 lakh and closer to what you pay for the Superb diesel. But that didn’t quite happen. The Superb remains the largest selling car in its segment and, after the facelift, looks fresh.
With Honda Accord now discontinued, Volkswagen Passat rumoured to be so, and both Nissan Teana and Hyundai Sonata not selling much, the Camry Hybrid, because of its exclusivity, remains the only strong contender in the Superb’s area of dominance. We find out which of these two is a better car? Or at least better value for money in the Indian context…
Is hybrid a new phenomenon?
It was more than a century ago that the first hybrid was developed—the Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid made by Ferdinand Porsche was the first gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle in the world. But, back then, or even until the 1980s, there was no need to invest in hybrid R&D because of the low cost of petroleum (thus low cost of running vehicles) and comparatively little environmental consciousness. Then the times started to change. And the planet’s favourite hybrid—the Prius—took birth. Interestingly, the Prius went on sale in Japan on December 10, 1997, a day before Kyoto (December 11, 1997). (Toyota Prius review: http://goo.gl/AaoACK)
Toyota Camry Hybrid
What works against the Camry Hybrid