Toyota is off to a slow start in selling its electric SUV in China, which is the world’s number 1 market for electric cars. Sales of electric vehicles hit nearly 1.2 million units in China in 2019, a 3 per cent increase from 2018, and amidst an 8.4 per cent fall in sales of combustion engine vehicles.
Toyota launched an electric version of its C-HR compact SUV in China in April this year, under both its joint ventures GAC-Toyota and FAW-Toyota. The GAC Toyota C-HR electric SUV is available in five variants and priced from RMB 225,800 (USD 33,700) and RMB 249,800 (USD 37,300) after government subsidies.
The FAW-Toyota’s C-HR based electric vehicle is called the Toyota Izoa, and is available in three variants, with the same starting price, but the top-end variant extends up to RMB 253,800 (USD 37,900), however, both electric SUVs have an identical specification.
However, sales of Toyota electric cars in China has been muted with a mere 2,000 units sold till date. This, despite the Japanese car maker having a 6 per cent market share in China with total sales of over 1.62 million vehicles last year.
The muted start for Toyota EVs in China might see the car maker double down on its hybrid technology, according to a report on Nikkei. According to the report, Toyota will offer its joint venture partner GAC with its gasoline-hybrid technology for ease of local manufacturing and reduce costs of its products.
Currently, hybrid vehicles in China are seen the same as gasoline powered ones, however under new emission regulations, hybrids will be seen as low emission, eco-friendly vehicles. This could spur demand for hybrid vehicles, where Japanese car makers have considerable experience.
Toyota will also offer its hybrid technology to Geely, the parent company of Volvo, the report said. Until now, Toyota offered specific patented technologies of its hybrid tech, for free, to expand the market for hybrid cars, but that has not resulted in a sales shift, until now at least.
The future Toyota electric car range is expected to be revealed from 2021; TMC has confirmed it will introduce six global Toyota electric car models for markets such as China, Europe and USA. Three Toyota electric cars will join a large size Toyota electric SUV, a medium Toyota electric crossover and medium SUV. The medium Toyota electric SUV will be shared with Subaru too, the carmaker confirmed, with the Subaru Evoltis a possible name.