Will Toyota change course and build a mass-market electric car?

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV
Toyota doesn’t like battery-electric cars. It believes hydrogen fuel cells are the better technology, because they generally offer greater range, and short refueling times similar to gasoline cars. But Toyota may be changing its attitude.

The Japanese automaker is now considering building an electric car, according to a Nikkei report. That car could appear in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, although that doesn’t give Toyota much time to accomplish a huge task. The company hasn’t even put together an electric-car development team, according to the report. That will happen over the next couple of months.

Interestingly, the Japanese government is expected to use the 2020 Olympics to promote hydrogen fuel cells, and Toyota will likely be a part of that, too. The automaker will supply a fleet of fuel-cell buses, with the first ones set to be delivered next year. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing the concept of a “hydrogen society,” where fuel cells are used to power buildings as well as vehicles.

The Toyota electric car itself could be a small SUV, and may use the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform that underpins the current-generation Prius hybrid. The Prius’ chief engineer, Koji Toyoshima, recently indicated that Toyota is now more confident in the lithium-ion battery cells other automakers already use in their electric cars. Toyota is continuing lithium-ion development work, but could also buy batteries for its electric car from an outside supplier, according to Nikkei.

Toyota isn’t completely new to electric cars. It sold two generations of the RAV4 EV, an electric version of its ubiquitous RAV4 SUV. Both were built solely to satisfy California regulations. The second-generation model (pictured above) used a powertrain from Tesla Motors. Toyota also built an electric version of its tiny iQ city car, which was imported to the U.S. in extremely limited numbers as the Scion iQ EV.

Instead of electric cars, Toyota has focused on promoting its Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car. The Mirai is currently sold only in California, because it’s the only state with a decent network for hydrogen fueling stations.

Cars

U.S. firm plans to power soccer stadiums using aging Nissan Leaf batteries

We've heard of aging EV batteries being repurposed to power homes and other facilities, but how about an entire sports stadium? An American firm is already doing just that, and now has plans to expand its system across Europe.
Cars

This ’60s Ford Mustang EV has Tesla-like specs and a Rolls-Royce-like price

British startup Charge Cars planted its flag where electric cars and muscle cars meet when it unveiled a battery-powered 1960s Ford Mustang. Starting with a reproduction shell, the firm added an electric powertrain and modern electronics.
Cars

What is Apple CarPlay? Here's all you need to know about iOS in your dashboard

CarPlay is one of two major infotainment systems currently vying for your car's dash. Here's everything you need to know about the system, including its feature set and host of third-party apps.
Cars

Nissan’s high-tech ice cream truck removes the fumes from your order

Nissan has given the traditional ice cream truck a modern makeover to create a cleaner, greener, high-tech alternative that also gives aging electric-vehicle batteries a new life.
Cars

What is Android Auto? Pull over and we'll tell you everything you need to know

What is Android Auto? Google's app overrides native infotainment systems to reduce distractions while driving. Here's everything you need to know about it, including the feature set and compatible car models.
Cars

The hottest of all Mini hatches is coming with a Batman-approved design

The Mini John Cooper Works GP concept first seen at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show will go into production in 2020, Mini has confirmed. The John Cooper Works GP is the ultimate performance version of the Mini Cooper.
Cars

Volvo invented the three-point seat belt, and it might be the company that kills it

Volvo didn't invent the seat belt, but the firm patented the three-point configuration found in every new car in 2019. Autonomous technology will force automakers to rethink how they keep motorists pinned to their seats, and Volvo is…
Cars

Airbus-backed Voom could take on Uber’s on-demand flying taxi service

Airbus-backed Voom says it's planning to take its on-demand helicopter taxi to more U.S. cities this fall, a move that could put it in direct competition with Uber's app-based air taxi service launching soon in New York City.
Cars

Airstream inspiration Road Chief puts an off-grid luxury camper on the road

Updated for off-grid camping for four people, the Bowlus Road Chief Endless Highways awaits your tow hitch and your wallet. Bowlus design, build quality, and technology in a world-class trailer towable by most mid-sized SUVs.
Cars

Ford promises exciting GT supercar news at Goodwood Festival of Speed

Ford will make an announcement regarding its GT supercar at the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed. The GT's racing career is winding down, but could Ford be planning a hotter road-going version?
Product Review

2020 Mercedes GLS shows what happens when unstoppable force meets immovable luxury

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS is more than a luxury family-hauler. Yes, it’s got all the luxury features and all the bells and whistles of modern technology, but this three-row Teutonic tank has some serious off-road chops as well.
Cars

Think hybrids can’t be sporty? BMW’s Vision M Next is here to prove you wrong

BMW unveiled a concept named Vision M Next that shows what sports cars could look like in the not-too-distant future. It is a plug-in hybrid model with 600-hp, and a driver-focused interior packed with futuristic tech features.
Cars

Chevrolet’s in-car pizza-ordering app is the start of an ecommerce revolution

Chevrolet has added Domino's in-car pizza delivery app to Marketplace, an ecommerce platform that equips millions of cars built since 2017. Users can order a pizza on-the-go by tapping the screen a few times, and have it delivered where…
Cars

It’s tough to buy a fully American-made car, but here’s 15 that come close

In the age of global supply chains, tariffs, and multinational companies, what does it mean to be American-made? The traditional answers no longer apply, and the vehicles with the most American content may surprise you.