Toyota sets local EV launch in 2012


Toyota Motor Corp. plans to market in Japan a new electric vehicle based on its iQ ultracompact in 2012, roughly coinciding with its release in the United States, sources said Thursday.

With the world’s top carmaker venturing into the EV market, competition is expected to intensify among the major players, with Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. already selling the environmentally friendly cars, and Nissan Motor Co. due to release its own model in December.

Toyota’s vehicle will be fitted with a proprietary battery and is likely to have a much shorter range than regular gasoline-powered cars. To add cars with longer ranges to its lineup, the company also aims to begin selling plug-in hybrids in 2012, the sources said.

Toyota is now developing an EV modeled on its RAV4 sport utility vehicle for sale in the United States, in cooperation with Tesla Motors Inc.

Starting Wednesday, its electric concept car, which is equipped with a Tesla powertrain, will be displayed at the Los Angeles Auto Show until Nov. 28, the company said.

Toyota previously sold a similar car in Japan but halted production in 2003 due to weak sales.