Japanese car giant Toyota has announced revised plans to introduce 10 electric vehicles within the next three years – including a ute aimed at South-East Asia – amid criticism by electric-car supporters it has been slow to adopt the technology.

However, the revised plans – which are aimed to see it sell 1.5 million electric vehicles per year by 2026 – will not come at the cost of hybrid, plug-in hybrid or hydrogen vehicles, which Toyota will double down on for buyers not yet able to go electric.

Included amongst the 10 new electric models by 2026 will be an ute aimed at Asian markets – due by the end of this year – alongside a “compact car” the size of today’s Yaris and Corolla hatchbacks.

Toyota says it plans to build a new seven-seat SUV in the US from 2025, and expand its current range of ‘BZ’ (Beyond Zero) electric vehicles.

Under new CEO Koji Sato, the Japanese car giant’s target to sell 3.5 million electric vehicles by 2030 remains, but it’s unclear if its previously-announced plans for up to 30 electric cars by 2030 are still in place.

Due from 2026 is what Toyota calls a “next generation” of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), claimed to offer double the driving range of current Toyota electric cars – and focus on sharp styling and driving enjoyment.

Executives hinted at a sporty focus for the new models by calling them “BEVs created by car makers”, and showing a silhouette of a boldly-styled Lexus electric sedan (below).

“We also have plans to release next-generation BEVs entirely different from those of today … in 2026,” Hiroki Nakajima, Toyota chief technology officer – formerly the chief engineer who led the development of the current Toyota HiLux ute launched in 2015 – told a global media conference.

“This new generation of BEVs will double driving range by using batteries with far greater efficiency, while also offering designs and driving performance to set hearts racing.”

The next-generation electric cars are expected to be underpinned by an all-new electric-vehicle platform, and cost less to build with half the number of production processes.

These vehicles – expected to initially focus on Lexus luxury models – will be designed, engineered and built by a specialised division inside Toyota, which the company estimates will contribute to halving development costs compared to current cars.

However, alongside a rollout of electric vehicles, the company says it plans an even broader range of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, as well as hydrogen power and “carbon-neutral” fuels.

Toyota has been criticised in recent year from its slow rollout of electric vehicles, even though its hybrid technology has reduced the emissions of millions of vehicles over the past 25 years.

“We remain firmly committed to our multi-pathway approach. We will continue to tailor electrification to the needs of customers and individual regions by drawing on the strengths and characteristics of these vehicle types,” Nakajima-san told media.

The company estimates the 22.5 million hybrid, plug-in hybrid, hydrogen and electric vehicles it has sold since 1997 have reduced emissions by the same amount as 7.5 million electric cars.

Future plug-in hybrid models are promised to offer more than 200km of driving range through new battery technology – to become what Toyota dubs “practical BEVs” – while next-generation heavy trucks are slated to benefit from hydrogen fuel-cell power.

“For hybrid [cars], we will continue to improve our products with a focus on high quality and affordable prices, offering electric vehicles that can immediately contribute to carbon neutrality by accounting for local energy conditions and customer ease of use,” Nakajima-san told media.

Toyota executives acknowledged different regions – Europe, China, Japan, North America and the “Global South”, referring to Africa, South-East Asia, South America, and likely Australia – have differing tastes in cars, and are adopting electric vehicles at different rates.

Developed markets such as Europe are set to focus on the more expensive BZ electric-vehicle range – while two locally-developed Toyota electric cars are due to launch in China next year, and North America is set to gain a seven-seat SUV in 2025, with US-built batteries to take advantage of US government incentives.

Meanwhile, an electric ute is planned to launch in Asia and other developing-market regions by the end of this year – but it is unclear what form this will take, and if it would be based on a HiLux (such as the concept pictured above, revealed last year).

“For growth in the emerging markets, profitable hybrids will be our focus,” Yoichi Miyazaki, Toyota chief financial officer, told media.

Toyota’s first electric vehicle in Australia will be the BZ4X mid-size family SUV, which is due in local showrooms by the end of this year.

Toyota executives in Japan spoke of transforming the firm into a “mobility company”, expanding beyond its automotive business into energy storage, car sharing, and even designs of future cities.

Next-generation Toyota vehicles are slated to adopt new multimedia software and more advanced safety systems, including over-the-air updates for electric cars that will reportedly be able to change the way the cars drive.

Extracted in full from: Toyota reshuffles electric-car plans with 10 new models by 2026, including ute – Drive