For a long time, Toyota has focused on perfecting its hybrids, which the company believes are a better bridge between internal combustion vehicles and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles than battery-electrics.
The Japanese automaker now has a hydrogen fuel-cell car, the Mirai, in its lineup, but no electric vehicle since it stopped selling the RAV4 EV in California in 2014.
However, it seems that it has had a change of heart regarding EVs. Whether it’s due to the fact that Toyota can’t ignore the expanding all-electric car market or that is has come to realize fuel cells are still some way into the future, we don’t know. However, the Japanese giant has announced it plans to sell an electric vehicle in Europe by 2021.
Toyota Europe CEO Johan van Zyl said a decision hasn’t been made regarding the model, but it will probably be an SUV or a van, as those are the most responsive sectors to the electric technology.
"The price point [for an EV] will be high, therefore, you will see them in SUVs. They will also be much appreciated in a van-type vehicle in cities if they expand their zero-emissions zones," van Zyl was quoted as saying by Autonews Europe at the Geneva Motor Show. "We would like to have something in place by 2021," he added.
The automaker has so far resisted selling an electric vehicle in Europe, as EVs are far less profitable than hybrids, which the automaker sells in high numbers in the region. This year, for example, Toyota forecasts hybrids will make up half of its sales in Europe, and by 2021 that number will rise to 60 percent. Even so, it plans to sell 10 EVs globally by the early 2020s.
Toyota has already announced it would sell its first mass-produced electric car, the C-HR EV, in China starting next year. It would make sense to bring the SUV in Europe as well, although van Zyl commented that "it’s something that can be looked at".