|Toyota Plans Electric Vehicle in 2012 |
By Joh Murray
Wall Street Journal
January 11, 2009
Seeking to maintain its edge over rivals as the maker of eco-friendly
vehicles, Toyota Motor Corp. announced that it plans to launch an electric
vehicle by 2012 and offer 10 new gas-electric hybrid models in the early 2010s.
In a statement released in advance of Sunday's opening of the Detroit auto show,
the Japanese auto maker said it will display the Toyota FT-EV concept vehicle.
The electric vehicle shares the same platform of Toyota's new four-seater iQ, a
small, fuel-efficient car designed for city driving launched in Japan last year.
Toyota's new electric car concept comes amid a sudden wave of announcements by
global auto makers developing or planning to develop electric vehicles. The
latest announcement came from Chrysler LLC, which on Saturday said it expects to
start producing an electric car in 2010, one of four that it plans to bring to
market by 2013.
Until now, Toyota, which has dominated the alternative vehicle market with its
best-selling Prius gas-electric hybrid, has shown less interest in electric
vehicles compared to rivals like Nissan Motor Co., which plans to launch an
electric car in 2010.
Although Toyota plans to broaden its line-up with smaller, fuel efficient
vehicles and electric vehicles, it says it hasn't wavered from its belief that
gas-electric hybrids will form the core of the company's long-term powertrain technology.
Last year, Toyota announced that it plans to sell one million gas-electric
hybrids per year sometime during the early 2010s, part of its long-term strategy
of offering hybrid versions of all of its vehicles by 2020. Toyota will unveil
two new hybrids at this week's auto show, the third-generation Prius and the
Lexus HS250h. By the early 2010s, Toyota says it will also launch as many as 10
new hybrid models in various global markets.
Sales of Toyota's hybrids have slipped in recent months as gas prices have
plummeted. But Toyota says high gas prices will return, increasing demand for
"Last summer's four-dollar-a-gallon gasoline was no anomaly. It was a brief
glimpse of our future," said Irv Miller, vice president, environmental and
public affairs for Toyota Motor Sales USA.
The auto maker also offered more details of its highly anticipated plug-in
hybrid vehicles, which can run for limited distances on electric power and can
be recharged at home. By late 2009, Toyota said it will deliver 500 Prius
plug-in hybrids powered by lithium-ion batteries to lease-fleet customers,
including 150 in the U.S.