As China continues its efforts to lead the world’s electric vehicle (EV) development, late-mover Toyota is formalizing an alliance with Chinese automaker BYD it had announced in July as it aims to capture a wider portion of the country’s still-nascent market.

Why it matters: Toyota is looking to play catch-up in the global acceleration toward electric cars, a segment where the Japanese auto giant had largely kept quiet for years.

  • With a focus on conventional hybrid vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell technologies, Toyota revealed no electrified vehicle plans until late 2017, when the company set a target to sell 5.5 million “electrified vehicles” by 2030, including more than 1 million all-electric vehicles and fuel-cell cars.
  • The automaker in June this year fast-forwarded that goal to 2025, citing a surge in popularity for the auto technology.

Details: Toyota and BYD on Thursday announced they have agreed to form a 50-50 joint venture to develop and produce Toyota-branded battery electric vehicles and related parts for the Chinese market.

  • The JV will be set up in 2020, and staffed by engineers and employees currently involved in related research and development work from the two companies. The investment amount was not revealed.
  • A BYD spokeswoman on Friday confirmed to TechNode that a management team is currently being discussed, including a chairman appointed by Toyota and a general manager from BYD. The details are not yet finalized.
  • The news formalizes Toyota’s July announcement about an alliance with the Chinese automaker as part of its broader plan to roll out at least 10 new battery-powered electric vehicles in the country by 2025.

“With the same goal to further promote the widespread use of electrified vehicles, we appreciate that BYD and Toyota can become “teammates,” able to put aside our rivalry and collaborate. We hope to further advance and expand both BYD and Toyota from the efforts of the new company with BYD.”

⁠—Shigeki Terashi, Toyota’s executive vice president

Context: Established automakers are ramping up efforts to embrace electric vehicles in China, as the central government signals its support of the industry with the removal of market access for foreign investment.

  • Volkswagen in September announced plans to offer at least 10 new EV models in China in the next several years as part of a production plan for 1 million EVs by the end of 2022.
  • Daimler has made a series of moves related to electric cars to expand its footprint in China, including the planned delivery of Mercedes’s first made-in-China EV beginning in December and a JV with Geely to sell all-electric Smart cars in 2022.

Toyota, BYD partner on electric car and battery development

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: or Twitter: @jill_shen_sh

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