Toyota electric car badge
Toyota could split its next Aygo city car from its sister cars from Citroen and Peugeot by offering it with an electric powertrain, Auto Express can reveal. The new Aygo could form part of a new swing towards all-electric Toyotas with more pure EV models planned by the firm from 2020 onwards.
The current Toyota Aygo is produced alongside the Peugeot 108 and Citroen C1 at a single factory and the three models share the majority of their mechanical components – a bid by the manufacturers to make money in an area of the market with notoriously tight margins. However, Toyota’s European President & CEO Johan van Zyl has suggested that while his company is targeting hybrid vehicles in every area of the market where it is present, the smallest class of car – the A-segment where the Aygo competes – could require a different solution.
“We’ve always said that we see a spectrum of powertrain technologies – not necessarily competing with each other but just the technology that suits each application best will be utilised by the customer,” van Zyl said. “We see a natural evolution of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, pure-electric vehicle and fuel-cell vehicle.
“We already have some electric vehicles undergoing trials here in Europe – short-range, inner-city transport. So I think that in the future, if you look at that spectrum of technologies that we offer, then EVs will be part of that.”
Toyota Aygo front
When asked if Toyota’s city car could be a candidate for pure-electric power, van Zyl said, “Yes, that’s going to be very interesting. Will people use vehicles which will completely emissions-free in certain areas? We see a stronger growth of that type of thinking in cities where they’re saying, ‘We’d rather have emissions-free vehicles so it should be a plug-in or a pure-electric vehicle.’”
It’s thought that Toyota could see car sharing and monthly-payment lease schemes as a way of opening up an electric city car to users who would otherwise be put off by a high list price. Van Zyl said, “The sharing economy is one of the shining economies. That, in cities, might be the direction. But it’s also a difficult business model to make work, because at the end of the day, whether somebody is sharing or using it, somebody has to pay for it. The asset must be funded. It’s an interesting business model but not an easy one.
Another senior Toyota source, the company’s European head of research & development Gerald Killman, confirmed that a baby EV is under consideration. “Clearly we do see the possibility for battery-electric vehicles there [in the Aygo range],” he said. “But timing-wise, when it makes sense is something that we need to review, so normal people can afford it. We are being careful with it, but yes, we are developing it.”
Citroen boss Linda Jackson declined to comment on speculation that any of the three city cars could switch to electric power – or the potential implications of such a move for the partnership between Toyota and PSA – but she said, “If you take the trends that you see in urban cities, where potentially it is going to be everything banned apart from electric vehicles, then having a small urban-type mobility vehicle that’s electric makes sense.”
More electric Toyotas on the way?
The addition of an electric Aygo could be the beginning of a full-scale electric vehicle revolution at Toyota, if a report from Japanese newspaper Nikkei is accurate.
The paper claims that Toyota will begin mass production of electric vehicles by the end of the decade. The electric Aygo isn’t mentioned, and instead an electric SUV based on the Prius or Corolla platform is tipped, with a range of 186 miles or more.
Though Toyota has always leant towards hybrid cars, an electric SUV wouldn’t be a first for the firm. The first and third generation versions of the RAV 4 were sold with electric powertrains in limited numbers in the United States only.
The second RAV 4 EV was developed jointly with Tesla, and Nikkei says Toyota could procure batteries from outside sources in order to keep costs down.
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