Toyota is late to the EV party but it plans to catch up with rivals that already have many EVs on the road.

One way to do that is to collaborate with established EV specialists, and that’s exactly what Toyota is reportedly doing in China. According to Reuters, the Japanese giant is working with BYD to launch a new China-only small electric sedan in late 2022.

Set to join its bZ series BEV range, the new model will use BYD’s “breakthrough” LFP Blade battery, four unnamed sources claim, adding that the project is part of a broader effort to learn low-cost know-how from BYD.

BYD’s technology will enable Toyota to finally make an affordable yet roomy runabout, with two of the four people with knowledge of the matter describing the car as an electric holy grail for Toyota. The Japanese carmaker has struggled so far to come up with a small EV that is both competitive on cost in China and doesn’t compromise on comfort.

Gallery: BYD Han

It appears that will change thanks to BYD’s less bulky lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) Blade batteries, first used in the Han flagship sedan (pictured above) and its lower-cost engineering know-how. We also learn from the report that Toyota’s new EV will be slightly bigger than the Corolla, with one source describing it as “a Corolla with bigger back-seat section.

The small electric sedan will debut as a concept at the Beijing auto show in April 2022 before launching as the second model in Toyota’s new bZ series of EVs after the bZ4X SUV. The model will only be on sale in China with a competitive price likely under 200,000 yuan ($30,000), in a segment Tesla also plans to target within the next two years.

"The car was enabled by BYD battery technology. It has more or less helped us resolve challenges we had faced in coming up with an affordable small electric sedan with a roomy interior.”

One of the Toyota sources cited by Reuters

Toyota and BYD have a research and development (R&D) joint venture in Shenzhen. Created last year, the facility has two dozen Toyota engineers working side-by-side with about 100 BYD counterparts.

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