Toyota Will Bring Two EVs to the U.S. This Year
Toyota plans to introduce two new battery-electric vehicles in the U.S. this year in addition to one plug-in hybrid, giving a firm timeline after joining the EV game after years of skepticism about the demand for electric vehicles. The effort is part of a plan to electrify a large portion of its model range, with Toyota aiming to have 40% of its U.S. lineup composed of battery-electric vehicles, hydrogen-electric vehicles, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids by 2025. The automaker also hopes to dial that share up to 70% by 2030.
Just what could we expect later this year when it comes to EVs?
A compact SUV and a midsize sedan are the likely candidates, as Toyota has showed teaser images of two models of this type over the past several months, suggesting that a Camry-sized EV is likely in the works for later this year alongside an SUV that could be close to the RAV4 in footprint, but perhaps lower and more rakish in profile, as a released sketch suggested.
The prospective SUV model was previewed late last year when it was announced that the automaker would partner up with Subaru on an electric SUV project, which at the time was said to be aimed for Europe. A sedan about the size of a Camry was shown in a Toyota presentation graphic under wrap this week, not revealing much about its design except for a traditional sedan layout. These two expected segment entries are viewed to be in line with the automaker’s announced plans for battery-electric models, effectively offering EV options to Camry and RAV4 buyers. Both vehicles will be underpinned by the company’s e-TNGA platform, developed specifically for EVs.
“We believe the fastest way to lower greenhouse gases in the transportation sector is to offer drivers lower carbon choices that meet their needs,” said Gill Pratt, chief scientist of Toyota Motor Corporation and CEO of Toyota Research Institute. “At every price point and with multiple powertrains, we can put more people in cleaner automobiles across North America to have the greatest near-term impact on total carbon emissions.”
Despite being a hybrid pioneer with the Prius, Toyota has been a notable holdout when it comes to battery electric vehicles, with company executives occasionally voicing skepticism of EV market shares. Toyota’s reluctance to jump into the deep end of the EV pool has been interpreted in different ways over the years, with some analysts pointing to the conservative nature of the company as well as the low rates of EV adoption outside of China, northern Europe and the U.S. In short, once Norway, Germany, Holland, China, Denmark, Austria, the U.K. and a few others were accounted for, other countries’ demand for EVs was not worth the effort.
“Toyota’s been on a victory lap (and certainly will continue to) of offering more hybrids in all shapes and sizes,” Robby DeGraff, Industry Analyst at AutoPacific told Autoweek. “People at dealerships are skipping past the original ‘hero’ of hybrid cars, the Prius, and discovering different paths to go down like the much more affordable Corolla Hybrid that returns 50+ mpg or the new family-friendly Sienna now with standard hybridization. But with traditional legacy automakers like Volkswagen, GM, and Hyundai actively pivoting to full electrification, Toyota needs to catch up and do so very quickly. Especially because there’s a solid handful of EVs already on sale yet not a single one of them wears the Toyota badge.”
“Toyota needs to mirror that passion it has for its hybrids and also put it towards pure-electrics,” DeGraff added. “The RAV4 Prime is an impressive recent example of this ‘next step,’ taking its most-popular crossover and adding (among other things) a capable plug-in hybrid powertrain to it with 42 miles of range. They’ve got this new promising e-TNGA platform ready to go in the Toyota wheelhouse, so let’s also carry that momentum forward to offerings like a RAV4-sized battery-electric crossover, or larger three-row crossover to take on VW’s ID.6 due to bow here in a few short years.”
Toyota has also been cognizant of the higher cost of ownership of battery-electric vehicles compared to hybrids, hence its early focus on hybrids for over a decade.
“The PHEV is much less expensive to buy and own, compared to the BEV,” Toyota’s research found. “Without any incentives, the five-year Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of a long-range BEV is significantly higher than the PHEV. If you include incentives available this year (2020), the TCO of a long-range BEV is much higher.”
2021 will be a turning point for Toyota’s electrification efforts, but it remains to be seen in just what kind of auto market environment the first two EVs will land, as they are expected in the second half of the year. The auto market will still be responding to the effects of the pandemic at that point in time, even though it has shown a sharp rebound in many, if not all, EV-friendly markets.
“It’s important that Toyota doesn’t ignore its sedans too when it comes to picking which segments to electrify,” DeGraff added. “The Camry and Corolla remain strong sellers and could be worthy candidates for PHEV or even a BEV versions. Not everyone looking to jump into electric car ownership will want a crossover, regardless of size, and we shouldn’t force them. Younger shoppers especially, still prefer sedans.”
Source: Read Full Article