Toyota has long been one of the most reticent large automakers when it comes to producing all-electric vehicles. It had no problems with hybrids, e.g. the Prius, but the Japanese automaker would only produce the bare minimum when it came to zero-emission mandates, e.g. the Rav4 EV in California, and they quickly lobbied to change those mandates.
They are now doing the same in China, where the government is about to ramp up its electric car mandate, and while Toyota, like almost all other automakers, tried to stop the mandate, it looks like it’s going to happen and it might finally force the automaker to mass produce EVs.
Now Japan’s Nikkei is out with a new report stating that Toyota is indeed considering the mass production of EVs to comply to China’s mandate and that they are again focusing on SUVs.
A third generation Rav4 EV anyone?
Toyota’s most important moves into all-electric vehicles were the first generation Rav4 EV in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but it was scrapped after California relaxed its ZEV mandates, and another was its small investment in Tesla and their collaboration on the second generation Rav4 EV to comply with California’s new ZEV mandate.
The Japanese automakers ended up again scraping the program and last year, it cut its last tie with Tesla by selling its remaining shares of the company.
The main thing that has slowed down Toyota’s development of battery-powered vehicles is their commitment to hydrogen fuel cells. As we previously reported, the few automakers who are still entrenched in fuel cell hydrogen technology are slowly succumbing to physics and going battery-electric instead.
Yet automakers like Hyundai and Toyota still insist that the long-term future is hydrogen, but in order to comply with current zero-emission mandates, they are turning to batteries.
In November 2016, the Japanese automaker announced that Akio Toyoda, the company’s CEO and grandson of founder Kiichiro Toyoda, is now President of a new ‘EV Business Planning’ department that will oversee the launch of an all-electric vehicle by 2020.
As it is the case with a few other automakers, like GM, Daimler and VW, it looks like China could be the first market to see the results of this new electric vehicle effort thanks to its aggressive ZEV mandate.