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Toyota sets up EV company

Prime mover: Toyota’s Prius Prime is the company’s sole plug-in hybrid variant for the moment, but full EVs are on the way.

Push into battery EV tech forced by tightening emissions regulations, says Toyota

18 Nov 2016

TOYOTA Motor Corporation has set up a new company specifically to develop electric vehicles (EVs) in a bid to fast-track electrified models to market.

The Japanese car-maker made the announcement this week, confirming that the as-yet unnamed “in-house venture company” would be a virtual organisation made up of just four people, one each from Toyota Industries Corporation, components manufacturers Aisin Seiki and Denso Corporation and Toyota Motor Corporation.

Toyota said in a release that in developing EVs for production, the new outfit will use the know-how of the Toyota Group and implement “unconventional work processes” to ensure that projects are completed, and vehicles are brought market, faster.

It also said that tightening global emissions regulations and different energy and infrastructure issues, depending on the market, had pushed the company to fast-track development of battery electric vehicles.

While the car-maker has not provided a timeline for the introduction of a mass market full electric vehicle, Japanese publication Nikkei last week said that Toyota would launch an EV by 2020.

Previously Toyota had put its eggs in a number of different eco-friendly baskets, offering internal combustion engines, mild and plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, with a special focus on the latter.

Toyota believes that the cruising range, refuelling times and other convenience elements of fuel-cell vehicles makes them the “ultimate eco-car”.

In terms of current offerings, Toyota sells the Mirai FCV in Japan, some Eropean markets and parts of the Unites States, and the recently launched Prius Prime is the company’s sole plug-in hybrid model.

The Prime is not being offered in Australia, but a trio of Mirai FCVs are here for assessment and promotional purposes to highlight the technology.

Toyota and its Lexus luxury sister brand offer a number of mild hybrid variants, ranging from small hatches to large SUVs.

TMC president Akio Toyoda said he hoped the new work practices of the EV venture company would have a wider impact on the automotive giant.

“Over these past few years, which we have positioned as years for strengthening our planting of seeds for the future, we have taken such measures as establishing the Toyota Research Institute, made Daihatsu a fully owned subsidiary and have begun work to establish an internal company responsible for compact vehicles for emerging markets,” he said.

“The new organisational structure for EVs is a part of this effort. As a venture company that will specialise in its field and embrace speed in its approach to work, it is my hope that it will serve as a pulling force for innovation in the work practices of Toyota and the Toyota Group.”

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