Toyota to Partner with BYD for Affordable China-Only EV, Report Says

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Veteran Japanese carmaker Toyota has reportedly partnered with Chinese electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer BYD, to use the latter’s battery technology in an upcoming all-electric sedan, slated to launch exclusively in China in late 2022 — reports Automotive News.

The report cites four sources close to the matter speaking with Reuters, who heralded the partnership as an electric holy grail for Toyota. For years, Toyota has struggled to create a small form factor EV that manages to be both comfortable and competitive on cost in China, a market ruled by budget offerings from companies like Wuling and BYD.

According to the sources, Toyota’s breakthrough came in BYD’s lower-cost, less bulky lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) Blade batteries and its more cost-effective engineering knowledge.

Toyota isn’t the first to express a keen interest in BYD’s LFP battery technology. Earlier this year, Tesla was reportedly close to striking a deal with BYD for the same tech.

“The car was enabled by BYD battery technology,” noted one of the sources. “It has more or less helped us resolve challenges we had faced in coming up with an affordable small electric sedan with a roomy interior,” added the source.

The upcoming EV will be slightly larger than Toyota’s compact Corolla, the world’s best-selling car of all time. One source even said to think of it as “a Corolla with bigger back-seat section.” The car will likely be launched as the second model in Toyota’s new ‘bZ’ line of EVs.

The new EV is expected to be unveiled as a concept car at the Beijing auto show in April, going on sale exclusively in China for the time being later in the year.

Two of the four sources, all of whom chose to remain anonymous as they are not authorized to speak to the media, said the new electric Toyota would be priced competitively.

Toyota aims for the new EV to slide in under the sticker prices of premium electric cars like the Tesla Model Y, and one of the sources said it would likely be launched for less than 200,000 yuan ($30,000 USD).

In October, Toyota unveiled its all-electric bZ4X CUV — the opening act of the company’s ‘beyond Zero’ line of zero-emissions vehicles.

To remedy the higher costs and larger physical footprint of the EV batteries it was previously using, Toyota earlier this year announced a whopping $9 billion USD of investment into electric car battery factories, including $3.4 billion USD of investment into EV battery production in the U.S.

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