TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Toyota Motor Corp. said Friday it would move up its target to achieve annual global sales of 5.5 million units of electric and other eco-friendly vehicles by five years to 2025 while seeking to tie up with Chinese firms to enhance the supply of batteries.
"Demand for electric vehicles has grown stronger than we had projected earlier amid tougher emissions regulations (seen around the world)," Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi told a press conference in Tokyo as the company seeks to roll out its first EV models in China in 2020.
Toyota said in late 2017 that it would aim for electrified vehicles to account for more than half its global sales by around 2030 -- or about 5.5 million units, including 1 million EVs and vehicles using fuel cell technology, which converts hydrogen and oxygen into electricity.
But the Japanese auto giant said the goal can now likely be achieved roughly five years earlier than expected, citing robust sales estimates in China buoyed by government subsidies for EV purchases.
As the company seeks to expand sales of electrified vehicles, Toyota also said it had begun partnership talks with major Chinese automobile battery makers -- Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. and BYD Co. -- as well as Japanese battery supplier GS Yuasa Corp.
At a time when the auto industry is facing an increasing need for technical innovation, Toyota is forming partnerships with other companies, such as Japanese electronics maker Panasonic Corp. for the development and production of batteries for its EVs.
Toyota will start selling its first EV in Japan next year, which will be a two-seater car amid growing demand from elderly people for smaller vehicles, according to Terashi.
For the global market, the automaker plans to introduce more than 10 types of EVs, including sedans and sport-utility vehicles, by the mid-2020s.