Toyota plots return to EVs, this time in Asia

Toyota Motor Corp. will introduce electric vehicles in China and India starting in 2020 as it accelerates a push into battery-powered autos amid rapidly tightening environmental regulations.

Japan’s biggest automaker will design its own EV for the Chinese market, and is also considering selling EVs developed by its local partners under its marque, the company’s head of China operations, Hiroji Onishi, said at a briefing at the Guangzhou auto show on Friday.

Toyota signed an agreement with Suzuki Motor Corp. the same day for it to receive EVs from its smaller peer for the Indian market, according to a statement. Suzuki doesn’t currently sell an EV.

Selling EVs will mark the return of Toyota into the battery-powered market after halting production of the RAV4 EV in 2014. Toyota President Akio Toyoda said in September the company is a “ little bit late” in pursuing EVs, even as rival automakers rush into the segment. China plans to introduce a cap-and-trade policy linked to zero- and low-emission vehicles from 2019. India is targeting selling only electric cars by 2030.

“To respond comprehensively to the expanding demand for EVs in China, we are considering having our joint-venture partners provide us with EVs,” Onishi said. “We will also continue to develop every aspect of what China defines as new-energy vehicles, including plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles.”

To qualify for points under the Chinese proposal, vehicles need to be made locally. A Toyota spokeswoman declined to comment on where the EV and its parts will be produced.

Toyota said it will expand a feasibility study for selling its fuel-cell-powered Mirai sedan in China to include commercial vehicles like buses. The company will also introduce a pair of compact crossovers, the C-HR and IZOA, from the middle of next year, a key segment of the world’s biggest auto market where Toyota currently offers no models.

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