• Kyodo, Reuters, Bloomberg

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Toyota Motor Corp. announced on Tuesday that it aims to sell 3.5 million electric vehicles a year globally in 2030 — part of its plan to build momentum in its push for carbon neutrality.

Toyota said it will also increase its investment in battery development to ¥2 trillion ($18 billion) from the ¥1.5 trillion previously announced and launch 30 EV models globally by 2030, President Akio Toyoda said at a press briefing.

With the announcement, Japan’s largest automaker doubles the number of new EV models: the previous plan proposed 15 models by 2025.

“The situation around energy differs from region to region. Therefore, Toyota wants to meet the situation and needs of different countries and regions by offering various choices in terms of carbon neutrality,” Toyoda said.

The company had said earlier that out of the 8 million electrified cars it aims to sell by 2030, 2 million would be battery electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles.

For the new lineup of 30 EV models, Toyota will invest ¥4 trillion by 2030. That would be part of an overall investment of ¥8 trillion in electrified vehicles, including hybrids and hydrogen vehicles, by the end of the decade, the company said.

EVs still only account for a small portion of car sales, but the market is growing rapidly, with new registrations up 41% in 2020 even as the global car market contracted by a sixth that year.

In November, Toyota declined to join a pledge signed by six major carmakers, including General Motors, and Ford Motor Co. to phase out fossil fuel cars by 2040. It argued that not all parts of the world would be ready to transition to green cars by then.

In addition to battery EVs, Toyota also builds hydrogen fuel cell cars, and is developing internal combustion engines that run on hydrogen fuel, although it has not said when it might commercialize the technology.

The company has hastened its push to further electrify its lineup in recent months. Toyota recently promised that it will be ready to sell only zero-emission cars in Europe by 2035, aligning itself with the European Union’s green deal measures proposed earlier this year. Once seen as lagging behind in the U.S., the automaker made news earlier this year with its plans for EVs.

Even so, Toyota forecasts higher demand in the U.S. for its gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles over the coming decade. By 2030, Toyota sees hybrids making up slightly more than half of the vehicles it sells in the U.S. Zero-emission EV and hydrogen-powered cars are estimated to claim 15% of sales, the automaker said in a briefing earlier this year.

On Dec. 6, Toyota announced it will break ground on its first battery factory in the U.S. at a mega-site in North Carolina, joining an industrywide push as automakers accelerate efforts to electrify their fleets. Production at the plant is expected to start in 2025.

Toyota’s push into EVs comes as rivals have made aggressive commitments to electrify their lineups and build out vehicle battery manufacturing infrastructure. President Joe Biden challenged the industry in August to make half of all vehicles sold in the U.S. to be emissions-free by the end of the decade.

Toyota’s battery factory will be the anchor tenant of an industrial park called the Greensboro-Randolph Mega-site, a 1,825-acre parcel of land in central North Carolina that has been rezoned for heavy industry. The plant will create around 1,750 new jobs there. The automaker said the North Carolina site will initially have capacity to build enough lithium-ion batteries for 800,000 vehicles per year across four production lines.

The carmaker said it will commit to using 100% renewable energy at the facility, which will be known as Toyota Battery Manufacturing, North Carolina. It joins 10 other nonunion factories Toyota currently operates in the U.S.

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