Toyota Combines Lean Production and New Technology to Catch Up in Electric Vehicles

Toyota, the world’s top-selling automaker, is leveraging its famous lean production methods and incorporating new technology to close the gap with electric vehicle (EV) leader Tesla. The automaker showcased its latest advances at a plant tour in Japan, demonstrating self-propelled assembly lines, die-casting innovations, and hand polishing techniques. Toyota believes it can leverage its Toyota Production System (TPS) to effectively respond to changing times and improve efficiency in the manufacturing of EVs.

The company’s self-propelled production lines use sensors to guide EVs through the assembly process, eliminating the need for conveyor equipment. This technology provides greater flexibility and reduces costs. Toyota also showcased its gigacasting technology, which allows for the production of larger aluminum parts. By producing EVs in modular sections and utilizing quick mold replacements, Toyota has significantly reduced the downtime required for changing molds, resulting in a 20% boost in productivity.

In addition to these manufacturing advancements, Toyota has introduced a self-driving transport robot at one of its plants in Toyota City. The robot navigates a large parking lot, taking over the task typically done by human drivers. This development not only increases efficiency but also reduces the physical burden on workers.

Toyota’s commitment to ramping up its EV offerings is a significant shift for the company. Under new CEO Koji Sato, Toyota aims to address criticism about its slow adoption of fully electric technology. In 2022, the automaker accounted for only 0.3% of the global EV market. With these new manufacturing improvements, Toyota aims to close that gap and enhance its competitiveness in the EV market.

Overall, Toyota’s combination of lean production methods with new technology demonstrates its determination to catch up in the rapidly growing EV market. By leveraging its expertise and continuously improving its manufacturing processes, Toyota aims to increase its market share and successfully compete with companies like Tesla.

– David Dolan, Reuters