No longer a Honda City's monopoly - Toyota Vios Hybrid to debut by end-2023 with lower prices
Hans · Feb 9, 2023 06:18 PM
The current D92A generation Toyota Vios is on sale in Thailand and Indonesia with two powertrain options – 3NR-VE 1.2-litre 4-cylinder for Thailand and 2NR-VE 1.5-litre 4-cylinder for most parts of Southeast Asia. Both engines are paired to either a CVT-type automatic transmission or a 5-speed manual transmission (mainly for Indonesia).
Now, Thailand publication Headlightmag has reported that a new hybrid variant will join the Yaris Ativ’s line-up – as the Vios is known as in Thailand – by the third or fourth quarter of 2023.
However unlike the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid, which uses a more advanced (and more expensive) two-motor series-parallel type full-hybrid drivetrain, Toyota's latest hybrid for this region a simpler (and cheaper) one-motor, Daihatsu-sourced series-type hybrid.
A series hybrid means that the petrol engine doesn’t drive the wheels, but functions only as a generator to charge the high voltage battery. This way, the combustion engine is always spinning at its most fuel efficient operating speed, regardless of the vehicle’s speed.
However unlike the 1.2-litre Ativa Hybrid, Headlightmag says the Vios Hybrid will use a larger 1.5-litre engine. The hybrid drivetrain will come from Daihatsu's e-Smart Hybrid range.
By using a cheaper series hybrid, the Vios Hybrid will very likely be priced lower than the Honda City e:HEV RS, which uses a more sophisticated two-motor series-parallel hybrid, similar to Toyota’s more expensive models like the Prius or the Corolla Cross Hybrid.
Of course, the downside will be that series-type hybrids have a much lower performance. It’s aimed at economy cars while Honda’s two-motor setup is more performance-focused.
The current two-motor i-MMD (Intelligent Multi-Mode) hybrid system used in the Honda City e:HEV was originally meant for larger cars like the Honda Accord and Honda CR-V, before Honda managed to repackage the hardware in a more compact manner to fit smaller B-segment cars like the Honda City.
But Toyota Vios Hybrid has a lot of advantage on its side. Considering the target market, the Vios Hybrid’s cheaper but ‘good enough’ performance might attract more buyers to it.
At the moment, the Honda City (and City Hathback) are the only hybrid models in its class.
Honda is also the No.1 hybrid brand in Thailand, and Thailand is probably the only country in the world where Honda hybrids outsells Toyota ones.