Toyota sets out plans for its EV manufacturing overhaul

Toyota’s CEO sets out plans for electric vehicle (EV) overhaul, starting with a new factory approach and strategy planning for new car platform battery

One of the world’s largest original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) has some catching up to do in the race to electrify all vehicles sold from 2030 onwards. 

Earlier this year, Toyota’s previous CEO Akio Toyoda departed from the business, having admitted that his priorities were out of alignment with the global strategy for sustainable automotive transition. 

As the company’s new CEO Koji Sato sets out plans for electrification, questions abound as to whether the legacy automotive business will make it into the industry’s electric vehicle (EV) focused future. 

Nevertheless, Sato is keen to take action and has begun setting plans in motion to rethink factory layouts for EV production. As the company’s leadership team evolves, so does its focus as Toyota begins its first major push towards all-electric.

Taking inspiration from one of the leading OEMs, Tesla, the company recognises that its design principles and manufacturing innovations could help it bridge the gap between ICE and EV while minimising production costs. 

Aside from its organisational changes, Toyota is also preparing for the rollout of an all-new EV platform, which it believes could result in a major change for the company. This is a necessary scale of adaptation required for Toyota as the laggard in the industry. 

Previously, its EVs have been built similar to fuel and hybrid vehicles, which, as we know, is not the most effective way to look at electrification for a much wider application. The  switch from its current e-TNGA system, launched in 2019, is where Sato will focus much of his attention moving forwards. 

How far is Toyota behind its EV competitors?

If anything, Toyota’s position in the industry shows just how rapid the EV market has evolved. As the pioneer of some lean manufacturing principles and a leader in the ICE market for many years, Toyota’s strategy was to wait for a suitable moment—an adequate demand—before making a full transition to EVs. 

The bZ4x model was the first attempt at electrification—a project led by its previous CEO who admitted he was not fit to pursue the transition to a more sustainable vehicle range In 2022, only 1,220 of the vehicle sold in the US, which could be a result of its late response to the all-electric trend. 

Despite pure-play car makers from China, including BYD, climbing the ranks in terms of output and affordability, many traditional OEMs are already looking to cement their places in the automotive industry of the future. General Motors (GM) out-sold Toyota’s Lexus 10-fold in the first quarter of 2023.

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