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Multi-Model Hybrid Plan is Under Way
Toyota upped the ante in the green public relations war by unveiling the 2006 Highlander Hybrid at the 2004 North American International Auto Show.
The Lexus RX 400h, the hybrid gas-electric version of the RX 330 that will go on sale later this summer, was expected to be shown in production trim at the annual event already. But no one could say for sure if Toyota would unveil a hybrid gas-electric Highlander version or maybe a hybrid Sienna minivan, or even a Camry. While the latter has just been announced, the Highlander Hybrid will be an extremely popular green machine. The enhanced midsize SUV will be built alongside the RX 400h, which shares its general architecture, at Toyota's Kyushu, Japan facility.
As a quick background, hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) typically feature a gasoline or diesel internal combustion (IC) engine that is paired with at least one electric motor and a battery pack. In Toyota's case the IC engine and/or electric motor can then be used to power the wheels. The battery can power the electric motor alone, allowing the IC engine to shutdown when it's not needed, saving on fuel and reducing emissions.
Unlike battery-powered EVs, vehicles like the Highlander Hybrid are "non-plug-in electrics," meaning that they use their internal combustion engines to recharge the battery pack.
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