Although GM, Nissan, Honda, VW and now Hyundai have jumped on the sub brand bandwagon with gusto, Toyota have steadily refused to comment or deny on any plans they have for a new brand from their partner First Automobile Works. Of course in some interviews Toyota executives have made subtle hints at a sub brand for the Chinese market but nothing concrete has come forward so far, only denials regarding the plans. However, Auto.Sohu.com have released these pictures of what is being called FAW-Toyota’s first self developed car, a lack of exhaust pipes are indicating that this car is an electric vehicle.
Foreign automakers quickly realized that they were going to be left out of the electric car race in China, with subsidies only being made to new energy vehicles being made in China foreign companies can either produce their cars locally or they can import them and hope to sell at a premium. Toyota does sell the Prius in China but it has not been a big hit for the company, and further more the generous subsidies that are available for other new energy vehicles (up to 60,000rmb) clearly indicated that Toyota was in no position to seriously develop that area of the market.
Toyota have had to put their serious thinking hat on in the past few months, they know that they can sell hybrids in China if they can get them under a Chinese brand, they know that the first big buyers of EV’s and hybrids will be government departments, they know that government departments are being encouraged to buy ‘local brands‘, they know that government departments dislike this rule as they like a little bit of luxury, so what can Toyota do? It appears they have taken the Toyota Crown as a basis for their new electric car orientated brand, the below spy shots seem to have more than a little bit of Crown in them at the rear end whilst the front end is more Corolla stlyed.
Toyota, Hyundai and VW are pushing EV’s as their major selling point in their new sub brands which seems to indicate that the Chinese market maybe readying for a serious push into the new energy segment, but at the same time China’s premier, Wen Jia Bao has indicated his own doubts about the development path of China’s home grown EV and Hybrid car industry, which may spell some trouble ahead for an industry in its infancy.