Takehisa Yaegashi, known as "Dr. Hybrid" within Toyota, outlined the carmaker's "two pillar" product strategy during in technology presentation last month in Germany.
Yaegashi said the hybrid technology currently found in the Lexus RX400h SUV and the Prius lower-medium car is the right answer for the carmaker's large, premium cars sold in Europe. But that system is too costly for the carmaker's models in the minicar and small-car segments.
The Prius and Lexus RX400h are powered by a full or strong hybrid, which includes an electric motor that does all the work at low speeds and provides a boost for the gasoline engine under acceleration.
The Japanese automaker's small cars likely will get a mild hybrid system in which the electric motor is not used as the sole power source. The electric motor's major function is to send power to the wheels to take some of the load off the gasoline engine.
When asked about mild hybrids during a press event this month in London, Kazuhiko Miyadera, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing, said, "I think Toyota will introduce this type of system in Europe."
He wouldn't say in which models or when.
Yaegashi, who is senior general manager for Toyota's hybrid vehicle system engineering division, said Toyota offers a mild hybrid on the Crown sedan in Japan.
Honda sells a version of the Civic with a mild hybrid powertrain in Europe.
An example of an even simpler hybrid-like system is the start-stop function featured in the Citroen C3. The C3 has a Valeo-sourced starter-alternator system that saves fuel by switching off the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop. The car restarts when the driver removes his foot from the brake pedal.