Australia’s biggest car brand revs up electric concepts

Australia’s most popular automaker, Toyota, will show off two electric car concepts at the upcoming Japan Mobility Show in a move that could signal a step change for the brand.

Toyota announced early details of the battery electric vehicles on Monday, a week before the biennial event, revealing one would be a sports car and the other an SUV.

The announcement comes amid criticism of the car maker for failing to launch electric vehicles in many of its markets and for delaying the launch of its first electric car in Australia until next year.

Concept models of both vehicles will be on show at the Japan event, previously known as the Tokyo Motor Show, from October 26.

Toyota’s FT-Se sports car promises to deliver a wide and low base for better handling, a low instrument panel for visibility and an aerodynamic body for low air drag and greater range.

The FT-3e SUV will feature a simple design and a digital display on the driver’s door that can show off the car’s battery charge, temperature and air quality when they enter the vehicle.

The two models, if manufactured, would significantly boost Toyota’s “all-electric” car range, which currently features only one vehicle, the bZ4X SUV.

The electric car, which sells in the US, Japan and Europe, was to launch in Australia in late 2023 but its arrival was delayed until 2024 in a move Toyota Australia sales vice-president Sean Hanley said was designed to secure a greater supply and more powerful options.

“Rather than rush to market this year with a handful of cars, we decided to ensure our dealers have a reasonable level of stock, with the first cars rolling out of showrooms in February 2024,” Mr Hanley said.

“We expect to be able to deliver several thousand cars in 2024.”

Rather than offer battery electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles in the Australian market, Toyota has focused on delivering hybrid cars that use both a battery and a petrol engine.

Hybrid vehicles made up more than 69,000 new car sales in Australia in the year until September, just ahead of battery electric cars that made up more than 65,000 new car sales.

But a recent report from the Environmental Defenders Office found hybrid vehicles were often not as green as their advertisements claimed, as many brands sought to play up their electric motors and downplay petrol engines.

The report also noted Toyota would need to “immediately and drastically reduce the production and sales” of petrol and hybrid cars to meet the Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degree target.


Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
(Australian Associated Press)


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