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Toyota Shrinks EV Plans, Focuses on Hybrids Instead

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Electric vehicles sound like a pretty good idea in theory, because you never have to fill up at the pump, but it seems that Toyota isn’t quite ready to go full on with a big EV plan after all. A couple of years ago, Toyota announced plans to “sell several thousand of the vehicles per year,” but that has now been significantly downsized.

It was at that time that the Toyota eQ, a full electric version of the iQ minicar, was revealed to the world. This was supposed to start a much larger trend toward pure electrics, but “two years later, there are many difficulties,” according to Toyota vice-chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada. “The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society’s needs, whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge.”

Yes, we’ve seen the launch of such vehicles as the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf, but Toyota is going to spend more time working on what it already does best: hybrids. The Toyota Prius is the first car that comes to the mind of consumers when it comes to gas-electric hybrid cars and Toyota plans on furthering that established leadership. In fact, they are expecting to have 21 hybrid cars in the lineup by 2015, 14 of which will be all-new. They want to have a hybrid variant of every vehicle they sell.

The plug-in hybrid market hasn’t been very good for Toyota either. They wanted to sell between 35,000 and 40,000 Prius plug-in hybrids in 2012 in Japan, but they have only sold 8,400 to date. It’s no wonder that they really want to focus on their bread and butter of “conventional” gas-electric hybrids.

With the wider rollout of the eQ city car put on hold, Toyota is now left with just one pure electric in the form of the all-electric RAV4, an SUV that it co-developed with Tesla Motors. They’re looking to sell about 2,600 of those in the next three years.


About Michael Kwan

A freelance writer and tech geek from Vancouver. Find me at michaelkwan.com and follow me on Twitter @michaelkwan.

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