Toyota's Hino Truck subsidiary announced it will be the first manufacturer to commercially offer an original-production heavy-duty hybrid truck chassis both in North America and Japan. But a new research report from global market trends analyst ABI Research questions whether being the first to market will necessarily bring Toyota long-term success in the commercial sector. The report, "Commercial Hybrid Electric Vehicles," finds that monetary savings through hybrid technology are a possibility, but would require a dramatic reduction of initial costs that can only be achieved through mass production. Although hybrid electric passenger vehicles have gained momentum through increased fuel economy and good performance, hybrid commercial trucks won't sell so much on that appeal as they will from a discernable improvement in the total cost-of-ownership, according to the report. What Hino does have going for it, the report says, is that it's expected to be the least expensive hybrid truck available, which may make it the most attractive choice for the fleet buyer. Despite an early offering, the Hino hybrid won't benefit from all the advantages Toyota has in the consumer space, because Hino does not enjoy the market presence in the commercial truck market that Toyota does with light vehicles. However, major market players like GM and Freightliner are not expected to have a production hybrid truck chassis available for several years. Companies such as Eaton, Azure Dynamics, and Pei/UQM have stepped in to fill the void by developing hybrids on top of other platforms. These solutions can be effective, but are more expensive due to lower volumes.
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