After dodging the electric vehicle market for years, Toyota has turned a new leaf, and is now keen to sell millions of pure-electric vehicles in the coming years, according to a November 17 Toyota press release covered in Automotive News.

The effort to bring new electric vehicles to market will be spearheaded by a small in-house venture company, allowing project leadership to break away from the typically encumbered, large corporate structure of Toyota Motor Corporation.

“As a venture company that will specialize in its field and embrace speed in its approach to work, it is my hope that it will serve as a pulling force for innovation,” said Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda.

Toyota’s executive team heading up the EV unit will consist of only four people, each chosen from one of Toyota’s key group companies, including Toyota Motor Corp., Toyota Industries Corp., Aisin Seiki Co., and Denso Corp. It will roll up its sleeves and get to work on the EV project starting in December.

The shift towards battery-powered EVs comes on the tailwinds of increasing regulatory pressure to sell zero-emissions vehicles in many countries around the world. Toyota has, until now, focused on hybrid-electric vehicles, pairing conventional gasoline-powered engines with battery-powered electric motors in its hybrid cars and SUVs.

“Differing energy and infrastructure issues around the world and the rapid strengthening of regulations aimed at increasing the use of zero-emission vehicles have heightened the need for product lineups that can respond to various situations,” Toyota said in its press release.

Failure to enter the EV market would have alienated Toyota from access to government ZEV credits and subsidies in key markets, including China, where Toyota aims to sell two million vehicles by 2025.

Toyota had formerly made a brief foray into EVs, but shuttered its efforts back in 2014 when it discontinued sales of its eQ electric micro-car and ended a partnership with Tesla to build electric Toyota RAV4s.

(Automotive News)