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Toyota, Mazda, and Denso lay out electric car plans with new joint-venture

Earlier this year, Mazda and Toyota created a new joint-venture to develop electric vehicles and build a US factory.

Now the two Japanese automakers lay out their plans for EVs as Denso, an automotive component supplier, joins them.

The three companies signed a contract today to “jointly develop basic structural technologies for electric vehicles” and “to establish a new company consisting of selected engineers from the three companies to ensure the efficient implementation of the joint technological development projects”, according to a press release.

Toyota has long been a proponent of fuel cell vehicles instead of battery-powered cars and while it still clings to the hydrogen-based technology, the company slowly warms up to battery-electric vehicles.

Though they are clearly stating that new regulations are the reason why they are turning to EVs:

“As countries and regions around the world adopt increasingly stringent policies to help reduce greenhouse gases, new regulations that mandate a certain proportion of electric vehicle sales are beginning to emerge. Complying with these environmental regulations, while ensuring the sustainable growth of our companies, requires the development of a wide range of powertrains and technologies. We regard electric vehicles (EVs) as a key technological field in this process alongside fuel cell vehicles.”

They plan to jointly develop the “basic structural technologies for EVs” and “common architecture” for a wide range of vehicle segments and types “from mini-vehicles to passenger vehicles, SUVs, and light trucks.”

Electrek’s Take

We have been seeing a lot of signs of Toyota and Mazda warming up to EVs lately with goals to bring new all-electric cars to market in 2020 and 2019 respectively.

It’s encouraging, yet, some of those efforts seem weaker than others, like when Toyota announced the creation of an electric vehicle division last year and put only 4 engineers on the project.

Now, this new joint-venture between Toyota, Mazda and Denso will have a few more engineers: ~40 employees at first, according to the announcement.

Hopefully, we start seeing those efforts grow since Toyota has the resources to put EVs in mass-production quickly, but with this announcement and other recent comments by Toyota’s leadership, they are making clear that they will only be moving in the space as fast as regulations require them to.

Maybe the recent potential ban on gas and diesel-powered cars announced by France, the UK, Scotland, and more recently China, are putting pressure on the company to move faster than they anticipated.

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