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Toyota to ramp up hybrid efforts to go greener, faster

Even if the US plans to reverse its fuel economy targets, the rest of the world is still tightening belts.

2016 Toyota Prius four
Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Toyota has finally seen the light and started work on electric vehicle development in earnest. But its bread-and-butter hybrids haven't been forgotten -- in fact, Toyota's speeding up their development, too.

Toyota said it plans to expand hybrid development over the next half a decade in order to keep hitting global emissions targets, Reuters reports. To make this happen, Toyota will expand its hybrid development team by 30 percent through 2021.

The goal is to introduce 19 new powertrain components that contribute to lower emissions. These updates will be added to Toyota's New Global Architecture, its latest modular platform that underpins just two cars for now -- the new Prius and the forthcoming C-HR crossover. Toyota claims at least 60 percent of its vehicles sold in major markets will have these new parts by 2021.

"The core technology of plug-in hybrids and electric and fuel-cell vehicles is based on hybrid technology," said Toshiyuki Mizushima, president of Toyota's powertrain division, at a press briefing. "By increasing our hybrid team, we can leverage new developments for use in electric powertrains."

Toyota's plan also involves a greater market share for its hybrid vehicles. Hybrids comprise roughly 10 percent of Toyota's global annual sales right now, a figure the automaker wishes to double by 2025.

The hope is to reduce Toyota's global average carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 90 percent through 2050. That's a lofty goal, but if Toyota can convince people that the new Prius looks good, it's capable of just about anything.