Toyota has finally decided to enter the electric vehicle market. The in-house unit has yet to be named but will start operating in two weeks.
The unit will expand by drawing upon engineers, designers and other personnel from various sections of the company as needed.
Toyota has always maintained that hydrogen fuel cells will be its primary choice for zero-emission models. However, due to cost and lack of hydrogen infrastructure in global markets, not to mention increasing consumer interested in battery powered electric vehicles (EV), the company has changed its tune.
It’s expected that Toyota will release its first EV by 2020. The car-maker has announced that it will launch a “virtual” company to examine and develop EVs.
Toyota spokesperson Itsuki Kurosu said,
“Regulations on lower emissions vehicles are changing very quickly, so we also have to respond quickly. With its small size, the new venture will be able to be more nimble in its planning and decision making, to speed up the process to develop electric cars.”
Electric Vehicles are Becoming Viable at a Rapid Pace
Rivals like Nissan, Tesla Motors and Volkswagen have all shown increasing interest and deemed zero-emission electric vehicles most viable for the future. Although Toyota has mostly focused on short-distance, ultra-compact electric vehicles, it hadn’t shown much interest in expanding to the all-electric market. Yesterday’s announcement is a major shift in direction and comes due to the market demand for electric cars.
“The company’s position is changing”, said analyst Chris Richter.
“They still talk about hybrids and fuel cells but I think there is a recognition that battery electric cars are getting a lot of traction right now. It’s going to take an awful long time before fuel cells are a competitive alternative to electric vehicles. In the meantime, a lot of things are going on right now (with battery electric cars) and they need to be there.”