In a landmark change of strategy, Toyota is set for mass production of long-range electric vehicles (EV’s) that will enter the market around 2020, according to Auto Vista Intelligence.
Reported in the Nikkei newspaper on Monday, it is a dramatic reversal for the automaker that has long promoted plug-in hybrid cars and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCV) as the most promising alternative to conventional cars. According to Nikkei, Toyota would set up a team in early 2017 dedicated to developing electric cars that can travel more than 300km (186 miles) on a single charge.
Toyota has promoted FCVs such as its Mirai sedan as the next-generation alternative to hybrids, a category it dominates with the Prius, since they have a similar driving range and refueling time to conventional cars. However, the lack of hydrogen fueling stations poses a major hurdle for mass consumption.
The news Toyota is refocusing on electric cars suggests that it sees electric cars as part of the oncoming trajectory of alternative fuel vehicles.
The fact that Toyota doesn’t plan to start development work for two months indicates how new the decision is, and how far the automaker has to go to catch up with rivals. General Motors is ramping up production of its 238-mile Chevrolet Bolt EV, and Tesla already has over 400,000 reservations for its 215-mile Model 3, which the company says will start production at the end of 2017, according to Green Car Reports.