Return of the Alphard / Vellfire Hybrid – Back By Popular Demand

Posted by Stephen On Friday, September 30th, 2011

It’s back.

3 and a half years since the Alphard Hybrid was canceled the new Alphard Hybrid will be going on sale in Japan on November 21st. (It’s sister model, the Vellfire, was never available in hybrid format before, but will be available from the same time.)

2011 Toyota Alphard Hybrid (also known as Toyota Vellfire Hybrid)

The Alphard / Vellfire Hybrid will join the Prius Alpha and the Estima hybrids bringing Toyota’s hybrid minivan model count to 3 in Japan. Toyota will then have 9 hybrid models on sale in Japan.

The new model uses the same E-Four system as the Estima Hybrid that uses an electric motor to power the rear wheels in conjunction with a 2.4 liter 4-cylinder engine resulting in all four wheels being driven. Also as per the Estima Hybrid, the Ni-MH battery is mounted in the console between the front seats. The battery pack has 21 cells each with a 6.5Ah storage capacity. The Alphard / Vellfire Hybrid has a 105KW 2JM electric motor to drive the front wheels, and a 50KW 2FM electric motor to power the wheels at the rear.

The new Alphard / Vellfire Hyrbid achieves fuel economy of 19 KM per liter (44.7 MPG) in Japan’s 10 – 15 mode test cycle, and 17 KM per liter (40 MPG) under the JC08 testing regime. That is a little less than the Estima Hybrid, which lends its drive train to this new model, but on the other hand, the Alphard is a larger and heavier luxury minivan. In any case, these figures still put it top of the class in the luxury minivan segment, and the 10 – 15 results beat the old Alphard Hybrid by 1.8 KM per liter.

The Alphard Hybrid and Vellfire Hybrids will both have the chassis designation ATH20W.

So why is the Alphard Hybrid being resurrected after all this time? According to Toyota, it is a simple matter of customer demand. The EcoCar program in Japan has helped the Prius achieve mainstream status as the consistent number one best seller. The Prius is the poster child for hybrid cars everywhere, and Toyotas in particular, so I suspect that this general public acceptance of hybrid cars has generated demand for hybrid options across the model range.

[In case you are wondering what the difference between an Alphard and a Vellfire is, it is simply a different name, different badges and microscopically different looks. The cars themselves are the same.

The Alphard is sold at the Toyopet dealerships, and the Vellfire at the Netz dealerships. As to why Toyota allows this internal competition and division of marketing resources to continue, I have no idea.

To me it is just as mysterious as the perennial question of why the electric grid in western Japan runs on a different frequency to that in the east, making the sharing of electric power resources so difficult. Both are historical anomalies which for whatever reason – politics, I assume – are not being addressed.]

Sources: MSN, Nikkei BP, Toyota press release (all Japanese)

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