Toyota has proven that it is leading the way into the future of automobiles, from self-driving cars to flying vehicles. Now it’s taking that innovation to the electric vehicle space. On Friday, November 17, Toyota announced plans to accelerate hybrid electric vehicle initiatives in China. By 2020, the automaker hopes to have a plug-in hybrid EV available to Chinese customers.
Toyota is certainly no stranger to electrified vehicles in China; the company already makes a Corolla Hybrid and Levin Hybrid in the East Asian market. In 2017, the company expects to sell around 100,000 total units of both models, but in the next three years, Toyota looks to achieve even more, moving toward fully electric versions of these cars.
Much of this will be contingent upon further development of plug-in hybrid versions of the existing Corolla and Levin cars. “We will use the technology we have nurtured in hybrid electrification to carry out extensive development of new energy vehicles as required by China,” said senior managing officer and CEO of the China Region, Hiroji Onishi.
Separately, Toyota says it is studying and evaluating the “feasibility of using commercial vehicles, such as buses, in China to explore the potential usage of fuel cell technology.” While fuel cell buses are already available in Japan and may soon make their debut in the U.S., the same technology has not been leveraged to the same extent in China. Soon, however, the company hopes to bring hydrogen fuel cell commercial vehicles to the country.
China isn’t the only Asian superpower on Toyota’s radar. The company also announced on Friday, November 17 its partnership with Suzuki, with hopes of bringing electrified vehicles to India in the next few years as well. Suzuki is slated to produce EVs to India, supplying some of these vehicles to Toyota, while Toyota is expected to provide technical support. The companies are also working together to implement the necessary infrastructure for electric and hybrid-electric vehicles, including charging stations, systems for battery disposal, and more.
As Toyota and other companies continue to expand their efforts in two of the most populous nations in the world, we may just be driving toward a greener future.