Toyota Sets Stage for Change

Toyota Sets Stage for Change

Koji Sato, the president of Lexus, will take over as the organization's new CEO, replacing Akio Toyoda. According to reports, Toyota Motor Corporation is creating an electric vehicle-only platform to lower production costs while improving the efficiency and competitiveness of its electric vehicles.

Apparently, Toyota made this choice as part of its strategy to begin mass-producing electric cars because it expects a sharp rise in public demand amid rising gas prices. It represents a substantial shift in the organization's electrification policy, while Toyota disclosed a big executive shuffle in the chain of command. Starting on April 1, 2023, incumbent Toyota COO and Lexus International President Koji Sato will take over as CEO. And Akio Toyoda, the company's founder's grandson, will continue as board chairman.

EV Platform

Instead of creating an EV-only architecture, Toyota chose to adapt its TNGA modular ICE platform for the electric SUV while making its first high-volume production vehicle, the bZ4X SUV. Toyota initially planned to employ the same e-TNGA platform for other EV cars down the road, but it now seems to have altered its mind. The e-TNGA architecture is similar to the TNGA equivalent used for gasoline-powered or hybrid vehicles.

The bZ4X SUV interior

As a result, Toyota's EV production costs are greater than those of Tesla's EV-only vehicle platforms. Toyota reportedly created an EV-specific architecture from scratch after determining that it could not compete with Tesla and make decent profits with EVs if it continued to use the e-TNGA platform. Toyota has yet to decide on the release date, but based on expected demand, it anticipates that it will happen between 2027 and 2028. The company will hasten the development and manufacture of electric cars until it completes the new EV-only platform.

The Prius is one of Toyota's most well-known hybrid models. However, compared to other automakers racing towards an all-electric future, Toyota is falling behind in widespread EV adoption. It's one of the rumored reasons the company's CEO, Akio Toyoda, would resign in April. However, Toyota still refuses to switch to an all-electric lineup even as it works to produce its first dedicated EV platform, and it is now using science to refute EV-only radicals.

Toyota's Chief Scientist

Dr. Gill Pratt serves as Toyota Motor Corporation's (TMC) Chief Scientist, Executive Fellow for Research, President of the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), and Executive Advisor to Toyota Central R&D Labs, Inc.

Dr. Pratt claims that the ideal strategy for a sustainable future is multifaceted, incorporating EVs with hybrids and other green technology rather than solely a complete commitment to battery-powered vehicles. Pratt reiterated this after speaking about the same topic at the World Economic Forum in Davos to provide some context for Toyota's long-term plan.

From 2030, Toyota plans to sell 3.5 million electric vehicles (EVs), including 1 million cars with the Lexus brand and about 5.5 million internal combustion engine and plug-in hybrid vehicles annually. Toyota isn't opposed to EVs, but it does advocate for a well-rounded strategy and believes that there will soon be a global scarcity of lithium, the critical component of the lithium-ion batteries that power today's pure EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids.

Dr. Gill Pratt and his colleagues concluded that it makes more sense to electrify as many automobiles as possible to share the limited lithium supply across as many vehicles as possible to reduce carbon emissions. Dr. Pratt was motivated to investigate the battery issue further after learning of his family's experience with a Tesla Model X, which has a more than 300 miles range. But if you only drive 30 miles daily, 90% of the battery is dead weight.

Dr. Pratt said that although battery electric and other zero-emission vehicles will dominate in the long run, a shortfall in lithium and inadequate charging infrastructure currently impede the widespread adoption of fully electric cars.