For the past few years Toyota has scoffed at battery electric vehicles, instead favoring gasoline-electric hybrids, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, but that could change.
During an interview with British publication Auto Express, Toyota’s European CEO, Johan van Zyl, suggested that while Toyota has hybrid vehicles in nearly every segment of the market, the smallest class of cars — the A-segment — could require a different approach.
“We’ve always said that we see a spectrum of powertrain technologies — not necessarily competing with each other but just the technology that suits each application best will be utilized by the customer,” van Zyl said.
“We already have some electric vehicles undergoing trials here in Europe — short-range, inner-city transport. So I think that in the future, if you look at that spectrum of technologies that we offer, then EVs will be part of that.”
When asked if the Aygo was a candidate to become an electric car, van Zyl gave an affirmative answer.
“Yes, that’s going to be very interesting. Will people use vehicles which will be completely emissions-free in certain areas?,” he said.
”We see a stronger growth of that type of thinking in cities where they’re saying, ‘We’d rather have emissions-free vehicles so it should be a plug-in or a pure-electric vehicle.”
Gerald Killman, the head of research and development in Europe, seemed to validate that the Aygo was headed to electrification by saying, “Clearly we do see the possibility for battery-electric vehicles there [in the Aygo]… but yes, we are developing it.”
The Toyota Aygo, a three- or five-door hatchback, has been produced alongside the Peugeot 108 and Citroen C 1 since 2005 in the same factory in France, and shares the majority of their mechanical components.
The Japanese-French partnership was formed to share costs on small cars, which have notoriously tight profit margins.
Since the development costs for an electric vehicle extraordinarily high, it seems logical that if Toyota builds an Aygo EV, it will have a couple of French cousins.