Toyota expands EV development in China, following other OEMs

  • Toyota announced plans to strengthen its intelligence and electrification technology within China, to offer Chinese-market EV options that can go head-to-head against local rivals
  • Car manufacturers outside of China have so far struggled to compete on price against local Chinese EV options
  • The news follows similar steps from Volkswagen and Audi, who have both partnered up with Chinese OEMs to gain market share within the country.

Toyota wants in on an increasingly-competitive Chinese EV market

Toyota is the latest car manufacturer to push into the highly-competitive Chinese electric car market, announcing that it will strengthen both its electrification and intelligence technology within China to create electric cars that are ‘competitive and pleasing to the customer in the Chinese market’.

This comes as foreign car manufacturers are finding it increasingly hard to get a hold of China’s EV market share. It’s a significant challenge to be price competitive against local manufacturers such as BYD, with fully-electric production lines and locally sourced materials.

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Toyota noted that developing a local supplier base would also be a key component of its new China strategy. This short supply chain should assist it in creating EVs that can match Chinese manufacturers when it comes to price. Plus, its development in solid state battery technology could give it a selling point over local rivals.

The company will also change the name of its Chinese R&D facility to reflect these goals: with the new title of the ‘Intelligent ElectroMobility (IEM) R&D Centre’.

Interestingly, Toyota noted that its zero-emission push in China will be multifaceted. Alongside battery EVs, traditional hybrids, and plug-in hybrids, the strategy will also include hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. This is technology that Toyota has continued to explore since the 1990s, despite other manufacturers choosing a battery-cented direction.

“The Chinese market is growing at an unprecedented pace. Toyota will also work together as a group to reform how we work & think to survive in China. By promoting local development with IEM by TOYOTA at its core, we will attempt to develop and provide competitive products that can satisfy Chinese customers at a fast pace. Furthermore, we will look to share development results and lessons learned in China, not only within China, but also globally.”

Tatsuro Ueda, CEO of the China Region, Toyota Motor Corporation

Other OEMs are adopting similar plans

Just last week, Volkswagen revealed it had invested $700m in China’s all-electric car brand XPENG, enabling it to sell Volkswagen-branded EVs based on XPENG platforms in just three years time, with the aim of rapidly growing its EV market share within the country.

Volkswagen’s Audi arm is aiming for similar goals, teaming up with SAIC to co-develop electric cars for the Chinese domestic market.

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