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Toyota struggles with EV shift, considers changing plans due to Tesla

Toyota is struggling with its shift to electric vehicles, and it is reportedly considering major changes in its EV plans driven by Tesla’s manufacturing strategy.

However, it may slow down some of its existing electric vehicle programs.

For years, we have been reporting on how Toyota has been lagging behind the competition in the shift to battery-powered electric vehicles. The automaker has been known for (delusionally) investing in hydrogen fuel cell and hybrid vehicles instead.

Toyota has continued to be highly critical of going all-in in battery-electric vehicles despite announcing its own plan last year to bring 30 battery EV models to market by 2030. The plan is only a year old, at least publicly, and yet, Toyota is reportedly considering a major overhaul of its EV plan.

Reuters reported today:

Toyota is considering a reboot of its electric-car strategy to better compete in a booming market it has been slow to enter, and has halted some work on existing EV projects, four people with knowledge of the still-developing plans said.

Toyota reportedly has a working group evaluating significant changes to its EV platforms that will revamp its EV plan.

A decision is to be made early next year, and work is reportedly stopping on some EV programs in the meantime.

Toyota didn’t confirm or deny Reuters’ report, but it did comment:

In order to achieve carbon neutrality, Toyota’s own technology – as well as the work we are doing with a range of partners and suppliers – is essential.

According to the report, the review of Toyota’s EV plan, which is led by Shigeki Terashiwas, was triggered in part by Tesla “winning the factory cost wars on EVs.”

Toyota was reportedly surprised by the successful use of some manufacturing technology by Tesla, including the “giga press” that is enabling the Texas-based automaker to produce larger casting parts. It leads to manufacturing efficiency.

One of the Toyota sources in the report said:

What’s driving Mr. Terashi’s effort is the EV’s faster-than-anticipated takeoff and rapid-fire adoptions of cutting-edge innovations by Tesla and others.

Toyota has been seen as a leader in manufacturing in the auto industry. While Tesla’s manufacturing has been criticized in the past, in the EV shift, there’s no denying that the company is emerging as a leader.

Tesla now has the capacity to produce millions of long-range electric vehicles, and it does it with an industry-leading gross margin.

According to the report, Toyota is taking notes and looking to potentially develop a new EV platform from the ground up based on those notes.

On top of the Tesla inspiration, Toyota is also inspired to change EV plans due to the lack of success with its own lone battery-electric vehicle program in the US.

Toyota had to stop selling the bZ4X electric SUV because it was plagued by some bad recalls.

Electrek’s Take

Some good and some bad here. I often say that other automakers, even well-established ones like Toyota, should look at Tesla’s success in mass-producing electric vehicles.

If Toyota is finally doing that and improving its own EV platform, that’s good.

However, it sounds like it is going to slow down some existing EV programs that Toyota is already working on. Considering the fact that the company is already late to the EV party, another revamp of its plan right now could delay existing programs that should have been launched in the next few years.

It’s probably too early to judge how Toyota’s EV shift is going to play out, but to me, it looks like the company is scrambling after finally realizing that it was wrong to dismiss battery-electric vehicles for so long.

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