Toyota to expand green vehicle lineup
Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday it is boosting its green vehicle lineup, with plans for 21 new hybrids in the next three years, a new electric car later this year and a fuel-cell vehicle by 2015.
In the United States, an electric version of the Rav-4 sport utility model, which Toyota worked on with U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors, goes on sale this month.
The fuel-cell vehicle, which runs on hydrogen to produce electricity, will be offered from 2015. Details for that model were not released.
But Toyota also said Monday it will sell only a limited number of an electric compact called eQ, based on its iQ model, in Japan and the United States in December -- about 100 for special fleet use. The car, which will be called the iQ EV in the United States, is pricey at $45,000 and has a limited cruise range of 62 miles.
Like other Japanese automakers, Toyota is gearing up for expansion after getting battered the last few years by the financial crisis and natural disasters in northeastern Japan and Thailand that disrupted production.
The manufacturer is also counting on its reputation for green technology that it has built with its hit Prius, the world's leading gas-electric hybrid, to woo buyers and fix its brand battered by the massive recall scandal in the United States a few years ago.
Rivals are working on green offerings, too. Nissan Motor Co. is focusing on its Leaf electric car. Another challenge is that customers in emerging markets, which are driving growth in demand for autos, are still not as interested in hybrids and other fancy -- and expensive -- technology.
Takeshi Uchiyamada, the executive overseeing technology and new model development at Toyota, said the long-term potential for fuel cells was great, compared to electric cars, because of greater cruise range and shorter charging time.