Toyota, the industry's hybrid champion, will signal its intent to adopt fully electric powertrains by displaying a close-to-production concept at the upcoming Shanghai auto show. It released a dark teaser image to preview the model.
We see just enough of the crossover (whose name hasn't been released yet) to tell it shares no major styling cues with other members of the Japanese firm's lineup, including the popular RAV4. Its design is characterized by a grille-less front end (though it looks like there's an air dam on the bottom of the bumper) and angular headlights with horizontal LED accents. Toyota's blue emblem tells other motorists that they're looking at an electrified car.
While the image intentionally leaves a lot to the imagination, it significantly tells us Toyota chose to give its first global EV a powertrain-specific design. This wasn't the case with its first EV, an electric variant of the C-HR built and sold only in China as of writing. We expect this differentiation will permeate the brand's future electric models.
Official details about what's beneath the sheetmetal are not available yet, but we know the concept is already on its way to production, so its specifications sheet should be fairly realistic. Most of the powertrain technology underneath is being developed jointly by Toyota and Subaru to leverage the benefits of economies of scale.
Toyota will fully unveil its electric crossover online next Monday, April 19, and the design study will make its public debut shortly after at the biennial Shanghai show. It's too early to tell if the production model will be sold in America, where it would compete against the Volkswagen ID.4, or if it will initially be available only in overseas markets.
Moving into the electric car segment is a surprising strategy for Toyota. Company boss Akio Toyoda candidly spoke out against the blanket gasoline bans that some governments (including Japan's) plan to implement in the coming years. He said forcing the industry to go electric threatens to make car ownership "a flower on a high summit." And yet, even its Lexus division unveiled a concept to announce it is gradually going to adopt full electrification.
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