Toyota’s slow, but inexorable, march towards building electric vehicles has just taken another large step forward with the signing of a joint venture agreement with Chinese EV manufacturer BYD.
The joint venture research and development company will work on designing and developing battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and their related parts (including vehicle platform). The company is to be established in China in 2020, with staffing to come from existing R&D engineers within the respective companies.
On the establishment of the new company, BYD senior vice president Lian Yu-bo said:
“We aim to combine BYD’s strengths in development and competitiveness in the battery electric vehicle market with Toyota’s quality and safety technology to provide the best BEV products for the market demand and consumer affection as early as we can.”
Toyota executive vice president Shigeki Terashi commented:
“With the same goal to further promote the widespread use of electrified vehicles, we appreciate that BYD and Toyota can become “teammates”, able to put aside our rivalry and collaborate. We hope to further advance and expand both BYD and Toyota from the efforts of the new company with BYD.”
What is does mark for Toyota is an expansion into the Chinese BEV market, where the results of the joint venture will be sold.
However, the R&D learnings will also be able to flow into the rest of Toyota’s, where adoption (or even support for) BEVs has been until now best described as ‘less than enthusiastic’.
Going by the comments above from Shigeki Terashi, this finally appears to be changing.
For those unfamiliar with BYD (which is most people as their biggest market is in China) – it was initially founded in 1995 as a battery business.
It has subsequently expanded into manufacturing electric bicycles, forklifts, rechargeable batteries, as well as full battery, plug-in, hybrid and internal combustion engined cars, buses, and trucks.
Warren Buffett is a large investor in the company – and Australia also has a number of tie-ins with BYD – including BYD electric busses being used in various trials around Australia, plus a recently established joint venture with BYD with Adelaide based firm Evant to build EVs there.