Toy­ota to ramp up EV ac­tiv­ity

New fam­ily of elec­tric Toy­otas in­spired by Con­cept-i will be rolled out from 2020


The Toy­ota Con­cept-i gives the first clues as to how the firm’s first be­spoke fully elec­tric ve­hi­cle will look when it goes on sale around 2020, Au­to­car has learned.

Toy­ota com­mit­ted to bring­ing fully elec­tric ve­hi­cles to main­stream, global pro­duc­tion last year, hav­ing pre­vi­ously talked down the tech­nol­ogy in favour of hy­dro­gen fuel cell ad­vances. It set up a ded­i­cated EV de­vel­op­ment team in 2016 and ear­lier this year an­nounced a tech­no­log­i­cal part­ner­ship with Mazda and parts sup­plier Denso.

Although crit­ics have ac­cused it of be­ing slow to mar­ket with EVS, Toy­ota chief Akio Toy­oda has com­mit­ted to launch­ing elec­tric cars “from mini-ve­hi­cles to pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles, SUVS and light trucks”. At the Tokyo mo­tor show last week, R&D chief Kiy­otaka Ise said he ex­pected to start rolling out a fam­ily of elec­tric cars from 2020 – a timetable in line with Volk­swa­gen’s am­bi­tious plans to launch a fam­ily of ID cars.

High­light­ing the firm’s 20 years of lead­er­ship in hy­brid tech­nol­ogy, in­clud­ing more than 11 mil­lion Prius sales to date, Ise said: “We have been work­ing with elec­tric mo­tors, in­vert­ers and bat­ter­ies for more than 20 years. We have noth­ing to worry about. Our EV tech­nol­ogy is al­ready de­vel­oped. The core tech­nol­ogy is the same.”

Re­ports sug­gest the first in a wave of new Toy­ota elec­tric cars will be a mod­i­fied ver­sion of the C-HR SUV, which will be sold in the Chi­nese mar­ket to meet new reg­u­la­tions. How­ever, a be­spoke plat­form for a range of elec­tric ve­hi­cles is be­ing de­vel­oped to un­der­pin all elec­tric mod­els for 2020.

Ise also hinted that Toy­ota was op­ti­mistic of over­tak­ing ri­vals in the race to put solid­state bat­ter­ies, which are more ef­fi­cient and po­ten­tially more cost-ef­fec­tive than to­day’s units, into pro­duc­tion.

“I will not spoil the story by re­veal­ing our range goals or cost ex­pec­ta­tions, but we are work­ing hard on solid-state bat­ter­ies,” he said. “The plan is to have them on sale in the early 2020s and that is an ob­jec­tive that, we think, puts us ahead of the op­po­si­tion.”

C-HR is in line to be mod­i­fied into a fully elec­tric car for sale in China Con­cept-i will in­flu­ence Toy­ota’s be­spoke EV range

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