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Here is What We Know About Toyota's Electric Future So Far

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【Summary】Is Toyota stepping out of the EV game? Recent reports indicate otherwise.

Manish Kharinta    Jan 27, 2019 9:35 AM PT
Here is What We Know About Toyota's Electric Future So Far

During the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, Toyota revealed that by 2021 it will introduce its first ever electric car. As one of the world's largest automakers, Toyota also puzzled the automotive industry when it revealed its thoughts on the future of mobility. 

The Japanese carmaker made it explicitly clear that it does not believe that electric vehicles will become a means of transportation for the masses. The announcement was made by Toyota's North America president Jim Lentz, who also mentioned that it might be some time before the company rolls out its EVs. 

This statement highlighted how apprehensive Toyota is of electric vehicles, which was surprising, considering that the Japanese carmaker has been a pioneer in electric technology and is responsible for introducing the Prius, one of the most iconic plug-in EVs of all-time.

Toyota was also rumored to be launching a mysterious EV in a presentation by Giovanni Palazzo, the president & CEO of Electrify America. Palazzo comprehensively listed all the EVs expected to be launched by 2022, and one of them was a new EV from Toyota. As of now, the automaker's mysterious EV is expected to hit the roads a year earlier in 2021. It's the only confirmed electric vehicle from Toyota in the next several years.

It has been over a decade since we last saw Toyota's production-spec electric vehicle concept which was built to offer 50 miles of driving range. Does this mean Toyota is not interested in the EV game? Recent reports indicate otherwise. 

The automaker joined forces with tech giant Panasonic in a joint venture to develop and manufacture high capacity EV batteries. Toyota happens to hold a 51 percent stake in the joint venture and will take over the control of five existing Panasonic plants.

Panasonic has been Toyota's sole battery supplier and the new joint venture might be the reason behind speculation surrounding Tesla's search for a new battery supplier. 

A recent report suggested that if Toyota's joint venture with Panasonic might help advance and support the introduction of a practical and affordable EV of the future. Supporting this possibility, Toyota established a dedicated electric vehicle research and development division dubbed the Toyota ZEV factory.

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