If we cast our minds back just a few years ago it seemed that Toyota had all but ruled itself out of the electric vehicle market, announcing that hydrogen power was the future. The company suggested it would not be investing any more money into pure electric vehicles although if the rumours in China are correct it seems as if the company may well have changed its mind. So what is Toyota up to and why has the company seemingly changed its mind about electric vehicles?
Cheap EVs in China
It seems that Toyota is set to introduce a line-up of electric vehicles under the Leahead brand-name in China. Quite literally translated the new brand name means "Leap Ahead" which is rather bizarre when you bear in mind the company's recent opinion of the EV market! Indeed while fans of the company's previous attempt at the electric vehicle market, in the shape of the RAV4 EV and Scion iQ EV wax lyrical about these vehicles, what should we expect with the new Chinese line-up?
While we await exact details of the new electric vehicles in the Toyota portfolio it is believed that the brand name will consist of a 10 model line-up. While these will include at least two hybrids the vast majority of them will be pure electric cars at relatively cheap prices as the company attempts to crack the Chinese market.
Quote from ElectricForum.com: "Wait until you see the EV project Israel is proposing. They are attempting to lead the world in being fossil fuel free."
Why were previous attempts unsuccessful?
It is common knowledge now that previous attempts to launch electric vehicles were greatly influenced by the California Air Resources Board, which basically forced car manufacturers to create a certain percentage of electric vehicles in order that they could operate in the state. While this in itself encouraged the release of a new array of electric vehicles in a relatively short space of time, in many ways it was a false development. Many companies, including Toyota, manufactured the minimum number of electric vehicles they could simply to allow them to operate within California.
There is some suggestion that the likes of the RAV4 EV were not efficient and lacked staying power but those who actually experienced this vehicle in particular still wax lyrical to this day. The fact is that in no way would Toyota have put its name to an electric vehicle, especially its pride and joy RAV collection, without being able to release a competitive product.
EV market now developing quicker than expected
There have been a number of developments within the electric vehicle market over the last few months one of which was the announcement by Tesla that it would not prosecute those who used its patent technology to further the electric vehicle industry. Even though this particular announcement did not grab the headlines and did not cause any ripples outside of the industry, it is and continues to be a major development.
When you bear in mind the billions of dollars that Tesla has ploughed into the electric vehicle market the announcement that patent protection rights will not be enforced would seem to be commercial suicide. However the company is very forward thinking and realises that the development of the electric vehicle industry using its own patented technology can only benefit the industry and Tesla.