Toyota Taking Solid Steps Toward Battery-Powered Cars

Toyota Motor Corp. has shed more light on its battery electric vehicle strategy: a small in-house unit is being established.

Toyota has been lately acknowledging it won’t exclusively choose hydrogen and hybrid vehicles over PEVs. This time, the corporate office in Japan said it’s forming a streamlined “in-house venture company” next month to start developing battery-powered vehicles in a speedy, innovative way.

“As a venture company that will specialize 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,” Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda said in a release today.

For now, the business unit will be made up of just four employees, each from a separate Toyota company. One member of the group will come from Toyota Motor Corp. The others will come from Toyota Industries Corp., Aisin Seiki Co., and Denso Corp., the parent company said.

“Its small organizational structure is meant to enable it to implement unconventional work processes, leading to accelerated project progress and, thus, fast-to-market products,” the company said.

The company said it will be part of a larger strategy to develop a range alternative powertrain technologies. Toyota still tipped its hat to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as leader of the pack, which it called the “ultimate eco-car.”

The top issue behind forming this PEV venture company is responding to changing regulations.

“Differing energy and infrastructure issues around the world and the rapid strengthening of regulations aimed at increasing the use of zero-emission vehicles have heightened the need for product lineups that can respond to various situations,” the company said.

The streamlined EV venture company will allow the carmaker to “commercialize EVs at an early stage, as an alternative means of achieving zero emissions,” Toyota said.

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Toyota did not give a timeline for launching an all-electric vehicle. The Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid will be launched soon in the U.S.

Toyota’s announcement supports comments last week by Chief Financial Officer Takahiko Ijichi that the company must react to changing emissions regulations.

It also follows a report in Japan’s Nikkei newspaper that said Toyota was planning to mass produce long-range battery electric vehicles by 2020. The Japanese automaker will set up a team next year to develop all-electric vehicles that can travel more than 300 kilometers (186 miles) on a single charge and sell them in Japan and in other markets that promote electric cars, such as California and China, the article said.

Automotive News