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Toyota will build an EV plant in Tianjin, China, in 2020

Toyota might be down on EVs for America. But the Japanese automaker announced plans late last week that it will build a new electric vehicle plant in cooperation with the First Automobile Works (FAW) in Tianjin, China. The two companies will invest about $1.22 billion in the project.

The plant is expected to produce 200,000 battery-only, plug-in hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles every year. The company did not indicate how many units would be electric, plug-in hybrid, or fuel cell.

The news follows an announcement from last April that Toyota premiered its C-HR and IZOA battery electric vehicles at Auto Shanghai 2019. The C-HR and IZOA will be the first battery-electric vehicles to launch in China under the Toyota brand. Sales of the new models are slated to start this year.

It will likely come as a surprise to US consumers that Toyota plans to roll out more than 10 pure EV models globally during the first half of the 2020s. Toyota currently sells plug-in hybrid electric vehicle versions of its Corolla and Levin models in China.

“Like all automakers in China, Toyota must produce zero- or low-emission vehicles to meet China’s ZEV credit requirements, which are expected to get much stiffer starting in 2021,” explained Alysha Webb, a contributing analyst at Wards Intelligence who studies China’s EV market, in an email to Electrek. “So this news makes sense.”

Toyota also showed the Rhombus in 2019, a battery-electric vehicle concept car developed by Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing, the company’s R&D arm in China.

The timeline for the Toyota-FAW plant in Tianjin appears to be fast. Toyota plans to complete building and start manufacturing in the plant in 2020, according to multiple media sources.

Electrek’s Take

We don’t expect to see any of these Toyota EVs in the United States. Toyota is a big believer in conventional no-plug hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles. But not pure EVs.

Nonetheless, it’s fascinating to see what Toyota produces, even if just for compliance, when it comes to pure EVs. Seeing those Toyota electric nameplates, and its marketing, is like an alternative reality.

In December, Toyota also announced its potential fourth EV for Europe in the form of a battery-electric minicar.

The announcement about a plant in Tianjin, or any EV from Toyota, does not change the global picture. China’s incentives and mandates are behind Toyota’s EV efforts there. The Japanese automaker is complying with Beijing to make and sell EVs, along with plug-in hybrids, gas hybrids, and fuel-cell vehicles.

By 2025, the company plans to introduce fuel-cell-enabled SUVs, pickups, and commercial trucks. That speaks for itself.

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Avatar for Bradley Berman Bradley Berman

Bradley writes about electric cars, autonomous vehicles, smart homes, and other tech that’s transforming society. He contributes to The New York Times, SAE International, Via magazine, Popular Mechanics, MIT Technology Review, and others.