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Toyota says it will launch 10 new battery-powered electric cars by 2026




TOKYO, April 7 (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp ( 7203.T ) will introduce 10 new battery-powered models and target sales of 1.5 million electric cars a year by 2026, aiming for steep growth in a market where it has long followed by rivals.

The world̵[ads1]7;s biggest carmaker by sales will also set up a new, specialized unit to focus on next-generation battery electric cars, senior executives said at a briefing on Friday as they outlined plans under the new management team.

Toyota, including luxury brand Lexus, currently has only three battery models on the market and last year sold fewer than 25,000 of these worldwide.

Investors and environmental groups have criticized Toyota for being slow to embrace battery-powered cars, noting that it has lost ground to Tesla Inc ( TSLA.O ) and others that have better captured fast-growing demand.

The Japanese automaker has countered that electric cars are just one option for customers, and that gasoline-electric hybrids like the groundbreaking Prius are a more realistic choice for some markets and drivers.

“Over the next few years, we will expand our range in the important battery-electric category,” CEO Koji Sato told the briefing – his first in the top job – but added that hybrids will remain an important pillar.

Electric vehicles are now expected to represent more than half of total worldwide vehicle production by 2030.

Meeting this demand will be crucial for Toyota, which also said it would increase production in the US – where growth in electric cars is outpacing growth in the overall market.

Toyota reported that its US sales fell by almost 9% during the first quarter. By contrast, General Motors Co ( GM.N ) saw an 18% increase, helped by greater demand for electric cars from fleet and commercial customers.

U.S. consumers switching to electric vehicles are largely doing so from Toyota and Honda Motor Co ( 7267.T ), data from S&P Global Mobility showed in November.

“Now that it’s time to take the next big innovative leap, Toyota is falling behind, and more and more people in the United States are starting to understand that,” said East Peterson-Trujillo, a clean vehicle advocate with the nonprofit Public Citizen. in an interview ahead of the briefing.

Reporting by Daniel Leussink and Maki Shiraki; Editing by David Dolan and Edwina Gibbs

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Daniel Leussink

Thomson Reuters

Daniel Leussink is a correspondent in Japan. Most recently, he has covered Japan’s auto industry, writing about how some of the world’s largest automakers are navigating a transition to electric vehicles and unprecedented supply chain disruptions. Since joining Reuters in 2018, Leussink has also covered Japan’s economy, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, COVID-19 and the Bank of Japan’s ultra-easy monetary policy experiment. Contact: +81 80 4637 8526



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