BEIJING (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) is taking an unprecedented route to meet China’s stringent green car quotas: its showrooms will sell an electric vehicle without the Japanese company’s distinctive triple-oval logo.
Instead, it will feature the label of GAC Motor (601238.SS), Toyota’s Chinese partner, and will be built around GAC’s lower-cost technology.
The move - a first for Toyota - 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.
According to two company executives familiar with the matter, Toyota plans to start selling the GAC Toyota ix4 by the end of the year. The car is a battery-powered compact SUV based on GAC’s Trumpchi GS4, and has been in development for two years.
Selling a car derived from a Chinese partner’s vehicle would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. But the idea gained momentum at Toyota because of the Chinese government’s push to get more electric vehicles on the road, the executives said.
The government mandates have spurred other new alliances, such as Ford Motor Co’s (F.N) agreement to develop electric vehicles with Zotye Automobile Co (000980.SZ).
Ford is waiting for regulatory approval for its partnership, which calls for designing and manufacturing several jointly developed no-frills EVs and selling them through a new China-only brand.
It wasn’t immediately clear which parts of the ix4 Toyota would provide, or which company’s design standards were used. Quality experts say GAC cars rate relatively high.
According to Jeff Cai, a Beijing-based senior director at JD Power & Associates, some of GAC’s cars, such