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Toyota to Sell Electric Vehicle Technology to Chinese EV Startup Singulato

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【Summary】Toyota Motor Corp has agreed to sell electric car technology to EV startup Singulato Motors, its first deal with a Chinese electric vehicle startup. The deal to license EV technology will allow the startup carmaker to speed up development of a lower-priced, compact electric vehicle for the China market.

FutureCar Staff    Apr 15, 2019 1:29 PM PT
Toyota to Sell Electric Vehicle Technology to Chinese EV Startup Singulato
The Toyota eQ, Singulato will redesign the car for the China market.

Toyota Motor Corp has agreed to sell electric car technology to EV startup Singulato Motors, its first deal with a Chinese electric vehicle startup. The deal to license EV technology will allow the startup carmaker to speed up development of a compact electric vehicle.

As reported by Reuters, Singulato will acquire a license to use the design of Toyota's eQ - a tiny electric car, The deal is due to be announced on Tuesday at the Shanghai Auto Show, where Singulato will unveil a concept car based on the eQ.

Singulato plans to redesign the car, tailoring it to local tastes to come up with a model by early 2021 that is more affordable and offers a longer driving range.

As part of the deal, Toyota will have preferential rights to purchase green-car credits that Singulato will generate under China's new quota system for all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Financial terms are not expected to be disclosed. A Singulato source said the startup agreed to pay "several tens of millions of dollars" for eQ's design.

The deal gives Toyota a bird's-eye view into how Chinese EV startups operate and the strategies they pursue in a fast-changing marketplace, said Singulato Chief Executive Shen Haiyin and two sources at the Japanese automaker.

"With electrification, autonomous driving and car-sharing shaking up the industry, old ways need to be re-examined," one of the Toyota sources said, declining to be identified as he was not authorized to speak on the matter.

"We have a century's lead in automotive technology, but we also need to be humble enough to learn from newcomers."

"This deal gives us a way to save on time and costs to develop a reliable car and focus on what we excel in," Shen told Reuters.

Founded in 2014 and backed by Intel Corp and Japanese trading house Itochu Corp, Singulato is one of at least 50 Chinese EV startups looking to succeed in China's crowded EV space. China is the world's biggest auto market.

Singulato plans to sell its first self-developed battery electric car called the iS6 this year, competing with models from rival startups like Nio and XPENG, as well as those from global automakers including Volkswagen.

Singulato's version of the eQ will offer young buyers a host of entertainment, safety and navigation features. The car, which will be called the iC3, will also feature some self-driving technology.

Toyota sold about 100 of the tiny eQ cars in 2012 and then discontinued it due to concerns over the limits of EVs, including their high price tags, short driving range and long charge time. But Singulato believes technological advances, especially in EV batteries have made the car much more marketable, especially for young buyers in China.

Shen said the iC3 should be able to go as far as 250-300 km (160-190 miles) on a single full charge and will be priced around 100,000 yuan ($15,000). Singulato aims to sell 200,000 units over five years.

Earlier this month, Toyota's announced that it would be offering automakers and suppliers free access to nearly 24,000 patents for EV technologies.

Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi told Reuters that Toyota intends to become a tier 2 supplier of hybrid systems and that it had already received more than enquiries from more than 50 companies.

Toyota Will Get ‘Green Car Credits' from Singulato

Under a production quota system taking effect this year, automakers in China are required to produce and sell a certain number of new-energy vehicles (NEVs) in proportion to their overall sales volume. NEVs include fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

A carmaker that fails to achieve its quotas will have to acquire NEV points from an automaker with surplus credits or face penalties. These green-car credits are also an important part of the Singulato deal.

Toyota has said that initially it will not be able to meet its quotas without buying green car credits from others. In additional to the deal with Singulato, Toyota agreed to produce and help sell a car for GAC Motor, a joint venture partner, to generate credits.


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