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Toyota fast-tracks EV crossover in China with GAC badge

by Ben Hsu

Toyota will equip the GAC ix4 with its electric powertrain to meet Chinese quotas.

Toyota has found an unusual solution to one of the auto industry's largest challenges, that of meeting China's strict "new-energy" vehicle quotas. It has elected to sell its electric powertrains in cars branded as GACs.

According to Reuters, the electric crossover will be called the GAC Toyota ix4, and will not feature Toyota's triple-ellipse badge anywhere. The vehicle will be based on the GAC Trumpchi GS4, which the company has displayed at the Detroit Auto Show.

As the article states, the deal "will give GAC access to the Japanese carmaker's stringent quality control, prestige and sales channel. For Toyota, it presents a quick way to meet Beijing's requirements that such vehicles represent 10 percent of an auto manufacturer's production by 2019."

That quota for so-called new-energy vehicles — fully electric and plug-in electric-hybrids — increases to 12 percent by 2020, and automakers are scrambling to meet the requirements. Reuters also states that Toyota's own EV will be ready for the Chinese market in 2020.

Toyota has previously made unconventional partnerships with companies that were typically seen as rivals. In 1980s in the US, it formed a joint-venture with GM to produce Corollas under the Chevrolet and Geo names. Toyota's partnership with GAC goes back to 2004.