Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest carmaker by sales, said Sunday it would introduce plug-in hybrid cars in China in 2018. The announcement was made by Toyota’s head of China operations, Hiroji Onishi, at a media event on the eve of the Beijing auto show.

"Our decision to launch plug-in hybrid versions of the Corolla and the Levin reflects the depth of our resolve and commitment to the Chinese market," Onishi reportedly said, but did not specify if the Japanese carmaker would produce the cars at its two local manufacturers of hybrid powertrain components, Toyota Motor (Changshu) Auto Parts and Sinogy Toyota Automotive Energy System.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, also known as PHEVs, combine a gasoline or diesel engine with an electric motor and a large rechargeable battery. PHEVs have an extended range compared to conventional hybrids, which do not have a battery.

Toyota said in its latest announcement it would also localize the development of plug-in hybrid vehicles ahead of the launch of plug-in versions of the Levin and Corolla in 2018.

A Toyota executive at the event told Reuters the plug-in hybrids for China should be able to run on just electricity for as far as about 30 miles when fully charged. 

In March, American car manufacturer General Motors said it would launch more than 10 plug-in electrified “new energy vehicles” (NEVs) plus hybrids by 2020 in China — the largest car market in the world.

China has paid special attention to the development of its electric vehicles market with Premier Li Keqiang promising to “step up support” for the industry at a February meeting of the State Council.