In late 2016, the Japanese newspaper Nikkei Asian Review broke the story about Toyota’s plans to mass produce electric cars by the year 2020. Ambitious and bold, this change in Toyota’s strategy heralds a new era for the Japanese automotive giant. Here are some details about Toyota’s intentions and a look at some of the highly fuel efficient vehicles it already produces.
A New Focus
Previously, Toyota had invested resources in developing vehicles that run on hydrogen fuel cells and advanced hybrid systems that you can plug in and recharge. In earlier statements, the Toyota leadership had indicated long-range electric vehicles were impractical due to the high cost of batteries and the time required to charge the battery.
Now, Toyota is embracing long-range electric vehicles by adding them to its lineup and making plans for mass production. According to published reports from Nikkei, Toyota will set up a dedicated team in early 2017 to design an all-electric car capable of traveling 186 miles on a single charge.
The Drivers of Change
Auto industry analysts speculate that consumer preferences and regulations may be the primary drivers behind Toyota’s shift in focus. California’s regulatory climate often sets the tone worldwide. So, with the state pushing for ever lower emission standards, it’s easy to see why Toyota wants to get ahead of the regulatory curve. A similar push for electric cars is underway in China where smog and air pollution have caused significant air quality issues and health problems.
Toyota’s decision to begin mass producing long-range electric vehicles by 2020 positions the company to avoid getting locked out of markets that may tighten emission standards. Many other automakers are working under the assumption that regulations will get more strict in dominant markets like California.
A Well-Timed Move
In 2020, Tokyo, Japan, will host the Summer Olympic Games. Many observers speculate Toyota’s plan to mass produce electric cars by 2020 is timed to coincide with an event that will put the world’s attention on the automaker’s home country. It’s worth noting Toyota is already listed among the brands serving as Worldwide Olympic Partners for the games. Because of the timing of Toyota’s initiative, the car manufacturing will be well positioned to showcase its new lineup to people around the globe.
An Array of Options for 2017
Consumers don’t have to wait until 2020 to buy a Toyota that promises exceptional fuel efficiency. With the 2017 Prius Prime, Toyota offers a hybrid powertrain that you can recharge. The vehicle offers both an EV-only mode and a hybrid power mode. When fully charged and carrying a full tank of gasoline, the Prius Prime can travel an astounding 640 miles, according to EPA estimates. For those who don’t want to go all in on the Prius Prime, Toyota also offers a new Prius v for 2017.
Toyota’s other hybrids don’t offer the recharging feature, but they still provide above-average fuel economy. Several Toyota models that come with a hybrid powertrain include the Avalon, Highlander, Camry, and RAV4.
The new plan to mass produce long-range electric vehicles are part of Toyota’s commitment to offer a lineup consisting only of zero-emissions vehicles by 2050.