Toyota, the world’s top-selling automaker, is taking bold steps to close the gap in battery electric vehicles (EVs) and challenge competitors like Tesla. By combining new technologies with its renowned lean production methods, Toyota aims to increase efficiency and reduce costs in the manufacturing process.
During a recent plant tour in central Japan, Toyota showcased its latest advances and examples of ingenuity. The automaker has implemented self-propelled assembly lines, eliminating the need for expensive conveyor equipment and allowing for greater flexibility in production. Furthermore, old equipment has been automated through robotics and 3D modeling, tripling equipment productivity.
One particularly notable innovation is Toyota’s “gigacasting” technology, inspired by Tesla. This die-casting technique produces aluminum parts larger than anything used before in auto manufacturing. Toyota’s expertise in die-casting has allowed for quicker mold replacements, reducing the time from 24 hours to just 20 minutes. This has resulted in a 20% boost in productivity.
Another area where Toyota is making strides is in autonomous transportation. The automaker has introduced self-driving transport robots at its Motomachi plant in Toyota City. These robots ferry new vehicles across a large parking lot, a task previously done by truck drivers. This innovation not only improves efficiency but also reduces physical burden and turnover in the workforce.
Toyota’s ability to adapt to changing times stems from its foundation in the Toyota Production System (TPS). This renowned lean production system has revolutionized manufacturing globally and is known for its continuous improvement and cost-saving principles. However, in the evolving market of battery EVs, Toyota has been outperformed by Tesla’s innovative approaches.
Under the leadership of CEO Koji Sato, Toyota started a new initiative to ramp up its battery EV offerings. With a market share of only about 0.3% in the global EV market, Toyota recognized the need for a stronger presence. By leveraging its manufacturing expertise and embracing new technologies, Toyota aims to overcome this challenge and become a major player in the EV market.
Source: David Dolan, edited by Jamie Freed