Toyota Makes Course Correction in U.S. With Plan to Sell EVs

Toyota Motor Corp. plans to begin selling a pair of battery-powered vehicles in the U.S. this year, revising a wait-and-see approach to electric cars and trucks.

The Japanese automaker said Wednesday it will start selling the unnamed EVs and an unspecified plug-in hybrid model, adding to a lineup with several gas-electric hybrids that accounted for almost one-fifth of its total U.S. deliveries last year.

Toyota withdrew from EVs in the U.S. seven years ago when it ceased production of an all-electric version of its best-selling RAV4 crossover sport-utility vehicle.

Toyota Makes Course Correction in U.S. With Plan to Sell EVs

The move to expand beyond hybrids represents a reversal of that cautious stance and comes at a time when rivals such as General Motors Co. are planning dozens of EVs and aiming to cease output of gasoline-powered models entirely by 2035.

Toyota sells limited numbers of a fuel-cell-powered sedan called the Mirai, but its executives in the U.S. said as recently as last year that they haven’t seen enough demand to justify a broader lineup of battery-powered models.

Toyota’s push into EVs represents more competition in a segment that made up only about 1.9% of U.S. passenger-vehicle sales in 2019, according to the latest available data from BloombergNEF and Marklines. It joins EV market leader Tesla Inc., as well as GM and other established automakers such as Ford Motor Co. and startups including Rivian Automotive Inc. in a bid to lure buyers to make the switch to all-electrics.

Toyota said 25% of its new-vehicle sales will be electrified by 2025 -- not far from what it expects to sell in the U.S. this year. But it added that the share will rise to almost 70% by 2030. The carmaker is developing a BEV platform called e-TNGA that it can use for multiple models.

The company’s renewed push into all-electrics in the U.S. follows President Joe Biden’s efforts to speed adoption of EVs. Toyota was among the last automakers to withdraw its support for former President Donald Trump’s effort to prevent California from continuing to set its own, tougher, emissions standards.

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