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Toyota Bolsters Electric Vehicle Development And Technology In China

Toyota is doubling down on its electric vehicle technology efforts in China. The move comes as the Japanese automaker aims to tackle increasingly stiff competition from players in the country’s automotive segment.  

China has turned into a battleground of market share among automakers, and this is particularly true in the country’s electric vehicle sector. Local rivals as well as industry leaders like Tesla have become significant challenges for companies like Toyota with their rapid growth and competitive pricing. 

To gain an edge in such a competitive landscape, Toyota is teaming up with suppliers Denso and Aisin to accelerate powertrain development, as noted in a Reuters report. The company will also focus on locally tailored design and development of “smart cockpits” that are intended to meet the specific demands of the Chinese market.  

It should be noted, however, that Toyota is not putting all its eggs in one basket, so the automaker is not just focusing on battery-powered EVs. Instead, Toyota is placing its bets on the appeal of hybrids and plug-in hybrids, as well as hydrogen fuel-cell technology. The automaker’s “multi-pathway” approach is expected to cater to markets that are not yet fully ready for a complete shift to battery-electric cars. 

As part of its push towards electrification, Toyota is fostering collaboration between engineers from three joint ventures—FAW Group, Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC), and BYD—at its largest research and development facility in China.  

Toyota’s China sales, including its luxury Lexus brand, encountered a slight 2.8% dip during the first half of the year. The automaker is also seeing production slowdowns at a joint-venture plant that makes its bZ4X crossover, a rather problematic EV that had seen its own fair share of delays and recalls. The company offloaded 1,000 contract workers earlier this month as well.  

China is the world’s largest market for electric vehicles, so it’s no surprise to see automakers putting in the effort to become more competitive in the country. BMW, for one, announced increased investments in product development through a new R&D hub in Shanghai. Volkswagen, on the other hand, has struck a strategic alliance with Xpeng, a local electric vehicle maker.