Toyota Joins Retrofit EV Powertrain Push

Picture: Toyota president Akio Toyoda with classic Corollas converted to BEV and FCEV. Credit Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

While dropping electric powertrains into old cars is clearly a gross act of vandalism, Toyota’s move to join in reveals the fact that new cars can’t match the allure of the old.

The Japanese automaker has showcased zero-emission versions of its 1980s sports range, which still boasts a strong global fan base, Reuters reports. At an industry event for customized cars in Chiba, east of Tokyo, the Toyota unveiled two cars of the Corolla AE86 generation, one modified as a battery-electric vehicle and the other as a hydrogen-engine model.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda said remodeling existing cars needed to be explored as an option to achieve a goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050. In Japan, only one in about 20 cars on the road are new and older ones are mainly powered at least partly by gasoline.

He said: “It’s important to leave a choice for cars that are already loved or owned by someone.” A relative newcomer to the mass EV market, Toyota has plans to invest $70Bn to electrify its vehicles and produce more batteries and aims to sell at least 3.5 million BEVs in 2030.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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