After putting it off for years, Toyota is apparently reay to join the mass-produced electric vehicle bandwagon. The Japanese automaker will reportedly build a long-range EV that will hit the road around 2020.
This represents a major tipping of the hat to the future of EVs. Up until now, Toyota saw them as a solution for short-distance travel only. For that reason, Toyota previously opted to keep its focus on hybrids. It was also more interested in developing fuel cell vehicles like the Mirai.
The news of Toyota’s shifting stance comes from a Japanese daily business newspaper Nikkei Asian Review. Toyota neither denied not confirmed the report. We do know though it has plans to go fully emissions free by 2050. The company says it has always been committed to developing alternative fuel vehicles.
Nikkei says Toyota plans to set up a special team to create long-range EVs next year. The team’s focus will be on creating models with cruise ranges of over 186 miles per charge. That number falls below competitors like the upcoming Chevrolet Bolt which will offer 238 miles.
Part of the company’s lack of previous enthusiasm for EVs comes from the price of the powerful batteries and the long charging times. Now with tightening regulations it looks like it would be hard for the number-one automaker in the world to keep up without them.
The first EVs will likely go on sale first in Japan, China, and California. Then they will become available in more markets. Until everything falls into place, Toyota will start selling a plug-in hybrid version of the popular Prius within the next couple of months. (The automaker previously discontinued the Rav4 EV.)