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Toyota has confirmed the next-generation Kluger SUV will offer both hybrid and petrol engine options when it arrives in Australia in the first half of next year.

The move comes after the leading Japanese automaker this week forecast profits would plunge nearly 80% as the coronavirus pandemic dents global car sales across the board.

The Japanese automaker, one of the world’s largest, said on Tuesday that it expects operating profit to reach just 500 billion yen ($4.7 billion) this fiscal year. That would be the smallest profit for Toyota in nine years.

“The coronavirus has dealt us a bigger shock than the 2008 global financial crisis,” Toyota President Akio Toyoda said.

“We anticipate a big drop in sales volumes, but despite that we are expecting to remain in the black. We hope to become a leader of the country’s economic recovery.”

Although it’s not all doom and gloom, with the next-gen Kluger SUV becoming the first hybrid powertrain to enter the Australian market. Moreover the hybrid range is providing big business for Toyota – with the vehicles now accounting for more than one in every five sales for the automotive giant.

Kluger’s total hybrid system power output is expected to be 179kW when it arrives in Australia, and boasts excellent fuel economy and low emissions. Its performance is supplemented by electric motors and a hybrid battery located under the second-row seats.

The new Kluger will be equipped with advanced Toyota Safety Sense active safety technologies designed to help prevent or mitigate collisions across a wide range of traffic situations.

Toyota Australia Vice President Sales and Marketing Sean Hanley said the hybrid Kluger is a logical step for a company that has sold more than 15 million hybrid vehicles globally, including in excess of 135,000 in Australia.

“The all-new hybrid Kluger is the result of combining Toyota’s hybrid leadership with extensive experience in SUVs, along with an unrivalled reputation for quality, durability and reliability,” Mr Hanley said.

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