Toyota Embraces Innovation to Catch Up in the Electric Vehicle Market

Toyota, the world’s leading automaker, is utilizing its famous lean production methods and combining them with new technology to close the gap with competitors like Tesla in the battery electric vehicle market. During a recent plant tour in Japan, Toyota showcased its latest advancements, including self-propelled assembly lines, massive die casting, and old-fashioned hand polishing techniques.

To improve efficiency and reduce costs, Toyota has automated three-decade-old equipment using robotics and 3D modeling, tripling equipment productivity. The automaker also showed off its thrifty ingenuity by hand polishing the mold for high-gloss bumpers, eliminating the need for paint.

Toyota’s manufacturing strength lies in its ability to adapt to changing times, anchored in its renowned Toyota Production System (TPS). This lean production system, known for just-in-time delivery and continuous improvement, revolutionized modern manufacturing and has been adopted widely across various industries.

Toyota has been overshadowed by Tesla’s innovations in the electric vehicle market. However, under new CEO Koji Sato, Toyota has announced an ambitious plan to ramp up its battery electric vehicle offerings. Goldman Sachs stated that Toyota accounted for only about 0.3% of the global electric vehicle market in 2022, highlighting the need for a stronger electric vehicle lineup.

To stay competitive, Toyota is focusing on innovations such as self-propelled production lines that eliminate the need for conveyor equipment, increasing production line flexibility. They are also adopting gigacasting technology, pioneered by Tesla, for the production of larger aluminum parts. Toyota’s experience in die-casting has allowed them to develop molds that can be quickly replaced, reducing the time required to change the mold and increasing productivity by 20%.

In addition to these advancements, Toyota has introduced self-driving transport robots at their Motomachi plant to ferry new vehicles across parking lots, reducing the physical burden on truck drivers and improving efficiency. They plan to have 10 robots operating in Motomachi by next year and may consider expanding to other plants or selling the robots to other companies.

Overall, Toyota is leveraging its manufacturing expertise and embracing innovative technologies to catch up in the electric vehicle market and compete with industry leaders like Tesla.


– Reuters

– Goldman Sachs