Is Toyota doing a U-turn over electric vehicles (EV)?
The company is aiming to begin selling its first long-range EV in 2020 in Japan, according to Japan's Nikkei newspaper. It said Toyota would set up a team in early 2017 dedicated to developing electric cars that can travel more than 300km or 186 miles on a single charge.
So Toyota's looking into mass-producing long-range EVs, after previously saying it would reserve EVs for short-distance commuting, given the high price of rechargeable batteries and the time they took to charge. It had taken the position that hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell options were more practical choices.
A spokesperson told City A.M.: "We don't talk in specific detail about our future product plans", but added that Toyota had been "investing in the development for environmentally friendly cars of different types for a very long time".
They added there were still issues relating to EVs "which need to be resolved", but EVs also have advantages in the reduction of CO2 emissions.
The company will consider the roll-out of EVs alongside its fuel-cell vehicles (FCV) lineup, based on the capabilities of each, along with the market conditions of different regions.
The Nikkei said plans under consideration include using an existing vehicle platform such as that of the Prius hybrid car or Corolla for the EV.
Competitors including Nissan Motor and Volkswagen have said pure electric cars would be the most viable zero-emission vehicles for the future.
Toyota's chief engineer of the Prius hybrid range, did suggest the company's tune might be changing in an interview with Forbes back in June.
Kouji Toyoshima, said: "Currently, a lot of electricity is still generated from fossil fuels. But this is shifting, and more and more carbon neutral electricity will be generated. That's why we would like to use more electricity to power our cars."
He predicted that in the future Toyota and its competitors "will move to using much more carbon neutral energy".