Toyota Motor Corp. said Friday it will expand its all-electric vehicle lineup by launching 10 new models and aim to sharply increase its EV sales to 1.5 million units annually by 2026, accelerating efforts to prop up its sluggish battery-driven car business under the leadership of new President Koji Sato.

"We will do our utmost to push forward with electrification," Sato said at his first press conference after taking the helm of the world's largest automaker on April 1. "We will ramp up our efforts to achieve carbon neutrality."

Toyota Motor Corp. President Koji Sato (C) poses for a photo with Executive Vice Presidents Yoichi Miyazaki (L) and Hiroki Nakajima during a press briefing regarding the company's new management policy in Tokyo on April 7, 2023, after they assumed their posts on April 1. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The new EV sales target represents a significant jump from the 24,000 units the company sold in 2022. Including gasoline-powered vehicles and other vehicles, it sold more than 10 million units in the same year.

The automaker also revealed a plan to start producing all-electric sport utility vehicles in the United States in 2025 as well as battery-driven pickup trucks in emerging countries later this year.

All-electric models offered by Toyota include the bZ4X, its first mass-produced EV model, and UX300e under its upscale Lexus brand. There is no change in its existing plan to sell 3.5 million EVs by 2030, the company said.

While expanding the EV business, the developer of the Prius, the world's first mass-produced hybrid passenger vehicle, said it will work to maintain its lineup, including hybrid and fuel cell vehicles.

"We will continue to pursue diverse options" to reduce carbon emissions, Sato said, adding that the company will ramp up sales of hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars and also aim to expand the use of hydrogen-powered cars.

His remarks came after the company pledged to develop next-generation electric vehicles by 2026 in an apparent effort to catch up with overseas rivals, which bet on the potential of all-electric cars earlier on.

The company also said it will set up a new unit to develop the next-generation EVs and is considering building a battery factory to catch up with the speed of EV production.

Sato, the 53-year-old former Lexus division head, succeeded founding family scion Akio Toyoda in the first change of guard at the company in 14 years. Toyoda became chairman of the company.

In the press conference, Sato emphasized the company will be run as a team under his leadership rather than employing a management style in which a leader decides everything.

"I hope to be a president who continues to be involved in the production of cars," Sato said, as he vowed to keep improving the quality of Toyota's cars together with Toyoda.

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