Toyota, known for its manufacturing prowess, has been accused of lagging behind in the electric vehicle (EV) game. However, the Japanese automaker has recently unveiled ambitious plans to strengthen its EV efforts. These include giga casting techniques, an advanced assembly line utilizing autonomous vehicles, and developments in battery technology promising a driving range of 900 miles by 2028. Additionally, Toyota plans to introduce 10 EVs based on a new architecture, starting in 2026. These plans may have never taken shape without the shock received from its partners at Chinese carmaker BYD.
During a business trip to China, Takero Kato, the president of Toyota’s newly established BEV Factory, came face to face with the competitiveness of Chinese components. Kato expressed his surprise, stating, “In China, they were not simply learning and applying technologies, but also rapidly transforming manufacturing.” Witnessing the state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities and unfamiliar equipment, Kato realized the need for a paradigm shift within Toyota. This wake-up call pushed the company to reassess its strategies and invest in the Chinese electric vehicle market.
Toyota collaborated with BYD for the development of the all-electric bZ3 sedan, designed for the Chinese market. Although the sedan is based on Toyota’s e-TNGA platform, it features BYD’s Blade batteries. Throughout the course of development, the constant need for adaptation became evident. Notable among the changes was the modification of the sedan’s height and wheelbase, a drastic alteration that would have halted development in Japan. However, Toyota prioritized customer satisfaction and pushed forward, considering it a worthwhile risk.
Reflecting on this journey, Kato shared that his love for electric vehicles is not mere lip service. He genuinely believes in the unique qualities and driving performance that EVs offer. This sentiment is echoed in Toyota’s commitment to expanding its electric vehicle lineup and investing in technological advancements.
Q: What are Toyota’s ambitious plans for its electric vehicle efforts?
A: Toyota plans to implement giga casting techniques, develop a next-gen assembly line utilizing autonomous vehicles, improve battery technology for extended driving ranges, and introduce 10 new EVs based on a new architecture starting in 2026.
Q: What was the wake-up call for Toyota?
A: The wake-up call came during Toyota’s collaboration with Chinese carmaker BYD, where they realized the competitiveness and transformative manufacturing capabilities of Chinese components.
Q: How did Toyota respond to the wake-up call?
A: Toyota took the wake-up call as an opportunity to reassess its strategies and invest in the Chinese electric vehicle market, resulting in a reinvigoration of its electric vehicle ambitions.
Q: What unique qualities does Toyota see in electric vehicles?
A: Toyota believes that electric vehicles offer unique qualities and driving performance that cannot be found in traditional combustion engine vehicles, leading to their commitment to expanding their electric vehicle lineup.