Toyota, hybrid champion, goes electric

(Shanghai) Hybrid car pioneer Toyota unveiled its electric ambitions on Monday at the Shanghai Motor Show, with the first model in a new range that will face Volkswagen.

The future bZ range (for “beyond zero”) should have a total of seven models by 2025. The first vehicle, an SUV of which we do not know the price or the characteristics, should arrive in dealerships around the world from mid-2022, announced the Japanese group.

The announcement comes as the German Volkswagen, from which Toyota captured the title of world’s leading car manufacturer in 2020 by volume, unveiled in March a colossal investment of 46 billion euros (69 billion CAN) over five years, in with a view to becoming the world leader in electric mobility by 2025.

All electric

All the major automobile groups such as Stellantis (Peugeot, Fiat, Chrysler), Renault-Nissan, Hyundai-Kia or the Chinese Geely (Volvo) have also launched the conversion of their ranges to electric for several years.

All except Toyota, which has dozens of hybrids in the lineup, from the small Yaris (not sold in Canada) to the big Highlander SUV, but only a handful of electrics, including the ProAce pickup and the C + Pod microcitadine (all two not sold in Canada).

The Japanese giant had had a bad experience with the electric: in 1997 in the United States, it had launched an electric version of its RAV4 SUV, recalled Monday the head of technology at Toyota, Masahiko Maeda, at a table round with reporters.

Due to a lack of charging infrastructure and sufficient autonomy, low customer interest had limited the scope of the project. At the same time, Toyota’s first hybrid sedan, the Prius, took off, influencing the group’s strategy for the following years, said Maeda.

But technological progress in batteries and public aid for the purchase of electricity have accelerated the transition in recent months: in Europe in particular, electric products reached 15.1% of sales in the last quarter of 2020.

10% of sales in 2025

Toyota now considers that electricity cannot be lacking in a “complete” offer and relies on a mixture of electrics, hybrids and hydrogen cars, the other energy of the future according to it, to turn the page of combustion engine.

The manufacturer plans to achieve 10% of its sales in electric and hydrogen in Europe by 2025, alongside 70% of hybrids, 10% of plug-in hybrids and 10% of gasoline cars, underlined the president of Toyota. in Europe, Matt Harrison.

It will concentrate its offer of 100% electric vehicles where motorists are most likely to convert, with the most advanced charging infrastructure and the financial means to acquire them.

These hybrid and electric sales should also allow Toyota to do better than European standards in terms of CO pollution.2, and therefore to resell part of its emission rights, according to Mr. Harrison.

First made in Japan and China, cars in the bZ range could then be produced where they sell best, potentially at Toyota factories in Europe, Harrison said.

The luxury brand of the Toyota group, Lexus, should also announce a new range “in the coming months”, underlined the leader.

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