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Toyota Forms EV Task Force

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Next month Toyota Motor Corp. will launch an “in-house venture company” to speed the development of electric vehicles.  

The unit will consist of just four people—one each from the carmaker and its Aisin Seiki, Denso and Toyota Industries affiliates—to help streamline decision-making, implement “unconventional” work processes and get the cars to market faster, Toyota says. No timeline was given for launching an EV.

The announcement follows a Nikkei report last week that said Toyota planned to produce mass-market EVs by 2020. The vehicles are expected to have a driving range of at least 300 km (185 miles), according to the newspaper.

Toyota has long been the leader in hybrid vehicles, but it currently doesn’t offer a single EV. The company pulled the plug on the electric RAV4 and eQ city car in 2014. It partnered with Tesla Motors Inc. on the electric systems for those vehicles.

But Toyota notes that differing energy, infrastructure and regulations around the world have “heightened the need” for EVs in some markets. Conventional hybrids for example don’t qualify for China’s new energy credits.

Toyota says it remains committed to developing a range of alternative powertrain technologies. This includes hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, which the company still believes is the  “ultimate eco-car.”

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