The future of diesel cars overshadowed all the gleaming new metal unveiled on the opening day of the Geneva motor show. In 2017, Toyota increased sales of these cars by 45% in Europe.
The Japanese vehicle giant revealed the change in strategy at a briefing on the eve of the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland. The models account for less than 10 percent of its sales in the region.
Making its world debut at the 2018 Geneva motor show, the third generation Auris features a more dynamic exterior design and, with a brand new 2.0 litre full hybrid powertrain joining the engine line-up, marks the debut of Toyotas dual hybrid strategy. For several years, hybrid versions dominated. Since then, sales of the Japanese hybrid models have started to grow at a rapid pace.
Toyota's HEV mix in passenger cars already equalled their diesel mix in 2015. Toyota hasn't issued any details on the output or performance of the regular petrol, a 1.2-litre turbo, but we'd expect it to have similar figures to the version that's in the C-HR (and the current Auris); so around 114bhp.
Toyota will still offer diesel engines in commercial vehicles (Hilux, Proace and Land Cruiser) to meet customer needs.
Other manufacturers, notably Suzuki and Kia, have long-standing commitments to hybrid, but "Toyota was the first and focused all its efforts on developing and positioning the technology as a good alternative" to diesel, said Felipe Munoz, an expert at London-based auto industry analysts Jato Dynamics.
Part of that comes from lighter, stiffer architecture shared with the Prius, C-HR and new Camry, while a chunk of the new Corolla's initial draw should stem from a longer, lower and more purposeful-looking body.
In February, Porsche announced that it would axe all diesel engine options from its range of cars with immediate effect, claiming there had been a "cultural shift" among customers.