Toyota's new electric-powered SUV could make it to the US.
Stories of Chinese-made knock-offs of European and Japanese cars are nothing new. In some cases the copies are so good you wouldn't notice they weren't the real deal at first. Well, the next time you're in China and see a GAC-Toyota ix4 drive down the road don't be alarmed, you are not seeing a blatant misuse of the Japanese brands name but rather the fruits of a new collaboration between GAC Motors and Toyota. The ix4 is actually based on GAC's own Trumpchi GS4, an electric SUV that has been in development for two years.
This is the first time that this partnership will feature a vehicle based on a GAC-developed vehicle. According to Reuters, the reason for this collaboration is twofold. Firstly it gives Toyota a way to meet China's requirements that all such vehicles represent at least 10% of its production by 2019. Secondly, GAC gains access to Toyota's quality-control systems and sales channels. Such a joint venture would have been unheard of even a few years ago, but increased demand for electric vehicles has spurred automakers into action, among them Ford who is pursuing an agreement with Zotye to develop low-cost electric vehicles to be sold under a Chinese only brand.
Toyota was one of the few manufacturers not keen to introduce purely electric cars, preferring rather to focus on hydrogen fuel-cell technology. China's big push towards electrification though has changed that stance. Toyota's similarly sized RAV4 may be way more upmarket but it is currently gasoline or hybrid powered only and an all-electric Toyota is only slated for a 2020 release. The GAC-Toyota ix4 on the other hand will be on sale by the end of 2018. With a 180-hp electric motor and 47 kWh battery that should provide up to 192-miles of range, the ix4 should do well against its competitors. And with GAC entering the US market in 2019, who knows, we may see it on our shores yet.