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Electric cars in China

Toyota takes wraps off first electric vehicle in China

Hybrid engine pioneer intends to catch up with VW and GM in EV competition

Toyota Motor is in Shanghai to unveil electric versions of its C-HR and Izoa SUVs -- and to tell the rest of the auto industry that it intends to catch up in terms of new energy vehicles.(Photo by Satoshi Yoshida)

SHANGHAI -- Toyota Motor on Tuesday unveiled its first own-brand electric vehicles, showing them off at a big auto expo here to demonstrate that it intends to catch up with the likes of Volkswagen, General Motors and other Western marques.

The Japanese automaker debuted electric models of its C-HR and Izoa SUVs at the 18th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition. The SUVs will hit the Chinese market in 2020.

Toyota has already released an EV edition of the ix4 SUV from GAC Toyota Motor, a joint venture with Chinese automaker Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC). But the ix4 is based on GAC Group's GS4 SUV and has GAC branding.

The Chinese government this year began requiring automakers to produce and sell new energy vehicles, including EVs and plug-in hybrids. Toyota will comply by releasing EVs as well as plug-in hybrid versions of its Corolla and Levin in the middle of this year. The Chinese government does not consider hybrids like Toyota's Prius to be new energy vehicles.

Later on Tuesday, Honda Motor is to release EV concept models from Dongfeng Honda Automobile, a joint venture with China's Dongfeng Motor Group. The showcase will include a local brand along with the Everus VE-1, an EV produced by a joint venture with Dongfeng Motor that was released in November 2018.

In China, the world's largest auto market, new car sales in 2018 marked their first year-on-year decline in 28 years.

More than 1,000 car and parts makers from 20 countries and regions are scheduled to participate in the auto show.

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