Toyota is preparing to begin large-scale production of pure electric vehicles within three years.
According to reports in the Nikkei Asian Review Toyota has a non-negotiable launch date for its zero-emissions all-electric range that would naturally be part of celebrations for the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo.
While Toyota is at the forefront of hybrid and fuel cell vehicle technology, apart from a brief foray from 2012 to 2014 selling electric SUV’s co-developed with Tesla, the Japanese giant has largely side-stepped pure electric motoring.
No doubt partly influenced by nations promoting tax and purchase price incentives for electric vehicles, Toyota has now hit the ‘go’ button, assembling a team of electric vehicle specialists within its headquarters in Nagoya, Japan and tapping other group companies on the shoulder and telling them to get a wriggle on to expedite the launch and production process.
As ever, at the core is battery technology. Notwithstanding its partnership with Panasonic, Toyota established its own battery R&D operation earlier this year and, according to the reports, has not ruled-out purchasing batteries from other manufacturers in order to accelerate launch of pure-electric vehicles.
Toyota is demanding a range between battery re-charges of at least 300kms but is determined to keep costs low and also provide vehicles which meet its ‘Fun To Drive’ mantra.
Commercial viability underwrites everything Toyota does and it seems certain the Japanese giant may, to a degree, have been pushed into a corner on EVs with toughening legislative requirements favouring zero emissions vehicles in major markets like the U.S. state of California (where annual new car sales exceed all of Australia) and also China which provides generous government-funded subsidies for the purchase of EVs.
And the shift to EVs has also increased the number of available charging stations in many countries – easing the logistics for buyers of pure electric vehicles.
Electric vehicle specialist Tesla is launching a small sedan next year – a market segment which has been Toyota’s bread-and-butter for decades - and Volkswagen has announced 25 per cent of its annual sales will be pure electric vehicles by 2025.
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