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Toyota charges into electric car field

Electrification has become entrenched as the way forward for a car industry striving to remain viable in a carbon constrained future.

But what is new is that one of the world's largest car makers, Toyota has finally entered the fray, announcing plans to bring its first purely battery electric car to market in 2020.

Until now the global motoring giant has largely hung its hat on hybrid technology, cars that use a combination of petrol and electric power.

But at the Tokyo show on Wednesday it has released details of its Ultra-Compact BEV (battery electric vehicle) that forms part of its strategy to continue to reduce its emissions across its global fleet.

The company has also revealed the concept for the second generation Mirai, the fuel cell electric vehicle that uses hydrogen as a power source.

While both vehicles are not slated for immediate release in Australia, the company's Vice President of Sales and Marketing Sean Hanley says all the nation's car retailers are well aware of the need to reduce their environmental impact.

"There's not a car company in the world that doesn't know that we've got to reduce our Co2 footprint," Mr Hanley told AAP.

"We're very competitive by nature but that's one thing in Australia that car brands all agree on.

"I think the motor industry will move at the speed of light and I know that our company is absolutely committed to zero emissions over the next decades.

"We know we've got a responsibility and we know that we can't wait for governments to act. We're moving now."

Toyota's BEV is a tiny two-seater most suited to large urban environments and will have a range of 100 kilometres and a top speed of just 60 km/h.

Also at the Tokyo Motor Show, Mazda revealed its first electric car to be known as the MX-30 which will go on sale in Japan next year.

With a longer range and a size to match most small SUVs on the market, the company says the car has been produced using sustainable, eco-friendly materials.

It also heralds a shift in strategy for a producer that has largely concentrated on improving the fuel efficiency of its petrol engines in recent years.

The moves by both Mazda and Toyota reflect a growing belief in the auto industry that there remains a place for a range of fuel technologies, including hybrid cars, fuel cell vehicles and purely electric models.

"Not one of those are necessarily going to be the silver bullet in each market," Mr Hanley said.

The author travelled to Tokyo as a guest of Toyota Australia

© AAP 2019