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Toyota and China's BYD will join forces on electric cars

The two will establish a new joint-venture in China next year to handle research and development.

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The cost of developing electric vehicles is, to keep it blunt, expensive. Thus, numerous automakers turn to partnerships, alliances, and in some cases, all-out mergers such as the proposed FCA-PSA tie-up.

While Toyota isn't getting that drastic, it is hooking up with a new partner in China. The Japanese automaker said Thursday that it will establish a new joint-venture company in China with domestic automaker BYD. The Chinese automaker has focused on electric vehicles and battery technology for over a decade and Toyota thinks its just the partner needed to solidify its footing in China.

"With the same goal to further promote the widespread use of electrified vehicles, we appreciate that BYD and Toyota can become 'teammates,' able to put aside our rivalry and collaborate," Toyota Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi, said.

BYD's Senior Vice President Lian Yu-bo added this collaboration will help bring new battery-electric cars to market as quickly as possible.

The new company will be responsible for all research and development locally, and both automakers plan to staff the joint venture with current engineers from their respective organizations. R&D will focus on designing and developing battery-electric cars, but there will also be work on electric-vehicle platforms, too.

While Toyota is a familiar name to Americans, BYD perhaps isn't. Yet, the Chinese company has already cracked into the US. Fleets of BYD's electric buses and trucks motor around California every day. It also operates a manufacturing plant in the state.

We likely won't see any effects from this partnership here in the US, but Toyota hasn't forgotten about us. It's gunning for a battery-electric car with solid-state batteries sometime next decade that will likely be sold globally. We'll see a concept vehicle previewing the technology next year at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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