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November 18, 2016

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Toyota sets up in-house e-car unit

TOYOTA Motor Corp is setting up a new in-house unit to develop electric cars, offering its strongest endorsement yet of a technology it has not embraced wholly, as take-up of a rival technology it pioneered remains slow.

Japan’s biggest automaker said yesterday that it will next month launch a unit that will start with four people and be responsible for planning a strategy for developing and marketing electric cars to keep pace with tightening global emissions regulations.

The unit will expand by drawing upon engineers, designers and other personnel from various sections of the company as needed.

The announcement comes after Toyota, which has invested heavily in hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs), this month said it would like to have the option of developing full-sized electric vehicles.

Even as rivals such as Nissan Motor Co, Volkswagen AG and Tesla Motors have touted pure electric cars as the most viable zero-emission vehicles for the future, Toyota had said it would reserve electric vehicles for short-distance commuting given the high price of rechargeable batteries and lengthy charging times.

Toyota has been developing ultra-compact electric vehicles for years. But by adding longer-range models, it would be changing its tune from promoting FCVs and plug-in petrol-electric hybrid cars.


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