Japanese rivals Toyota and Mazda have announced they will join forces to build a $2.2 billion electric car factory in the US.
Toyota has also announced a plan to take a five per cent share of Mazda Motor Corp as part of the new joint venture.
The plant will be capable of producing 300,000 vehicles a year, executives told journalists at a news conference in Tokyo, and will employ approximately 4,000 people. Vehicle production is slated to begin in 2021.
Reuters reports that future EVs will include a Toyota Corolla and a Mazda crossover utility vehicle.
“There will be new rivals appearing – Apple, Google – these are IT companies, we also need to compete with them too,” said Toyota president Akio Toyoda.
Toyoda said that the development of electric vehicles and alternative energy, which he has been overseeing in the company since last year, was different than traditional combustion engines.
“There are no nautical charts for us to follow,” he added. “It’s without precedent.”
Toyota has previously set a goal for all vehicles to be zero emission by 2050. Until now, the top-selling car maker has been investing heavily in hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles over EVs, which it said are best suited for short-distance commuting.
Toyota and Mazda are the two of the top-selling passenger car brands in New Zealand, taking out first and third place respectively in both new and used passenger vehicle sales last month.
A future mass-produced Toyota EV would cause a storm amongst electric Kiwi drivers; the major electric-powered Toyota model currently on the market, the Prius, was New Zealand’s top-selling hybrid and eighth highest-selling used vehicle overall in July.