Carlucci suggested the reasons behind other manufacturers’ withdrawal from the petrol city car market in recent years: “It’s a segment that traditionally is not that profitable and, if not fully electrified, tends to be a ‘bad boy’.”
The emissions produced by a pure-combustion motor incur hefty penalties for car makers because of a recently imposed 95g/km average on CO2 emissions across a manufacturer’s line-up. So Toyota will have to balance the pure-petrol Aygo X’s impact with sales of statistically cleaner hybrid and upcoming pure-electric models.
Were the Aygo X electrified, its environmental impact, on paper, would be likely to fall below the EU’s strict thresholds, but Carlucci suggested that a hybrid version would not be able to “stay true to the vocation of this category, which is to be affordable”. The mild-hybrid systems used by rival cars, he notes, have “even higher CO2” ratings than the Aygo – and the installation of such a system would push the Aygo X’s list price up, threatening its positioning.
Notably, the similarly priced Suzuki Ignis and Fiat Panda are the only electrified propositions available in this segment in the UK, but it uses a relatively unobtrusive and cost-effective 12V mild-hybrid system to reduce emissions. As for whether Toyota can count on the sustained popularity of an A-segment offering, as crossovers continue their assault on the sales charts, Carlucci is adamant that there remains a market for such models. “It’s the right choice to stay [in this segment]. I’m confident we can succeed,” he said, adding that the new car’s raised ride height and rugged styling are an acknowledgement that Toyota aims to find “a sweet spot between the A and sub-B categories where there is nothing like the new Aygo X”.
Toyota has hinted at a slight cost increase over the old car, but even a £15,000 starting price would compare favourably with similarly sized electric alternatives in outright terms: the Fiat 500e is priced from £23,495, the Mini Electric from £26,000 and the Honda E from £29,165. Volkswagen will launch the production version of the ID 2 in 2025 at around £17,000, but combustion technology will continue to be the most cost-effective means of propulsion in this segment for now, for both consumers and car makers.