The new Toyota Corolla Altis was launched the other day. What does this mean to the country? In many ways, nothing new. In other ways, something game-changing.
The Philippines is a Toyota country. It’s also a very Corolla country. It’s arguable that much of the success of the current industry leading models is built on the previous work of that brand and that model. Everything is just an extension of the reputation built up over generations, they say. So, nothing new?
Yet this new car is, indeed, the potential game-changer. And that’s precisely because it wont make much of a difference in daily experience? Why? The Hybrid. Whereas previous Toyota hybrid offerings were somewhat futuristic and trendy and styled to be different, the
Corolla is always familiar. Even when it may be completely new (in this case it has an independent rear suspension), it always has that “you won’t go wrong” appeal to it.
How much of a difference will the hybrid make? As we have said, in daily driving, not much. It will not force you to drive differently, it won’t make you wonder where you will go for a charge. It may make things more interesting for a while as you try and figure out when it switches between power sources, going between the internal combustion engine and the electric motor power. But that’s pretty seamless, and you soon stop noticing. You should notice less stops at the gas station. And you may well get annoyed at how much sound things like windshield wipers make until you realize you only hear them because the engine sound is no longer there. That’s what many Hybrid drivers began to realize, the silence is actually extremely relaxing. You can get this of course even more with full electric vehicles, but the ability to utilize those,
remains rather niche until infrastructure comes in to support it. The end result will be that the hybrid system can be taken up extremely easily, making that next step or commitment to a hopefully better environment, more easy to take.
The key behind this is the commitment to make everything as un-intrusive as possible. A power control unit works constantly to decide what various components should be doing. Should the gas engine be powering forward motion, or charging the battery, or doing nothing at all? Should the turning of the wheels be harvesting energy to throw into the battery? Should both the internal combustion and electric powerplants be working together right now? It is often surprising to see what the system chooses to use and when. Long smooth drives on highways are often best handled by internal combustion at low RPMs, while electric power may be best for urban use.
The Prius was taken up by many urban buyers in other countries precisely because it was a statement. But the Philippine buyer, at least the Corolla buyer, is far more pragmatic. And with all the attention brought in when other manufacturers are saying electric is the way to go, Toyota may well be the one to benefit the most. After the whole population, that is.
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