Long a proponent of fitting vehicles with hybrid/plug-in power and ultimately hydrogen fuel cells, Toyota Motor Corporation is moving in a slightly different direction with the establishment of a group specifically charged with developing electric vehicles. Set to launch next month, the group initially will consist of just four individuals, one each from Toyota Industries Corporation, Aisin Seiki Co., Ltd., Denso Corporation and TMC itself. Although designed to function as a fully independent entity, this new organization will be able to draw on the technical assistence of the entire Toyota Group.

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TMC President Akio Toyoda believes fuel cell vehicles remain the ultimate form of eco-car. But the broad range of global energy and infrastructure issues coupled with tighter regulations focused on increasing sales of zero-emission vehicles are forcing Toyota to take this action with an eye towards expanding its product lineup to include dedicated EVs as early as possible. Reports out of Japan hint that the first of these new Toyota electrics could be introduced in connection with the 2020 Olympic games that will be held in Tokyo.

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Toyota is banking on the small size of this new “virtual venture company” to foster implementation of unconventional work processes that will reduce development times and fast track upcoming EV products into showrooms. Akio Toyoda also hopes it will generate ancillary benefits in other areas -- notably “to serve as a pulling force for innovation in the work practices of Toyota and the Toyota Group."

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