Toyota's Updated EV Strategy
Toyota, long the global leader in the hybrid car space, has been criticized by some industry watchers and journalists for being slow in the transition to electric driving. In terms of the number of EV models it sells, Toyota lags behind competitors like Hyundai and Kia, who have gone all-in on electrification. Instead, the company has taken a pragmatic approach to electrifying vehicles across its model lineup, introducing more hybrid variations, which it says is a more practical way to reduce its overall carbon footprint. In addition to EVs, Toyota has invested in hydrogen fuel cells and hydrogen combustion; hybrids; plug-ins; and more.
Legislators around the world, however, are pushing ever harder towards zero-emissions targets, with many countries outlawing the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles completely by 2035 or sooner, with rumors that the U.S. may soon follow suit. In light of increasing pressure from governments, Toyota’s new President, Koji Sato, recently unveiled an updated strategy which puts a greater emphasis on the development of battery-electric vehicles.
1.5 Million Toyota EVs Expected by 2026
While Toyota will continue to have a “multi-pathway” approach that includes a diverse range of technologies, electric cars will be a far more important component going forward. Indeed, Toyota plans to launch 10 new fully-electric cars by 2026, which will significantly expand the company’s range of zero-emissions vehicles. The expanded offering will help Toyota keep pace with both legislation as well as aggressive rivals. Its target is to be selling 1.5 million electric cars per year by 2026 – a massive leap over the 22,500 it sold in 2022 – and 3.5 million electric cars per year by 2030.
What new models can we expect? The plan is global in scope. In 2023, new models for the Asian market will include a compact electric car and fully-electric pickup trucks. Two new models are also set to be launched in China, a major EV market, in 2024. They will be sold alongside the bZ4X SUV and the bZ3 sedan, which we do not get in the U.S.
In 2025, there will be a new three-row SUV designed for American tastes, and which will be produced in the U.S., with batteries sourced from Toyota’s North Carolina plant; that should help it be eligible for juicy government incentives. We also expect production versions of some recent Toyota concept vehicles, such as the bZ4X Compact SUV.
After 2026, Toyota will shift to a next-generation platform for its battery-electric vehicles. The new platform will differ significantly from current Toyota electric offerings, which are built on an architecture that also supports gasoline engines. The next-generation Toyota EV platform will be electric-only, and Toyota promises it will offer double the range of existing models thanks to batteries with far greater efficiency; they should also offer more passenger and cargo space.
Hiroki Nakajima, Toyota’s Executive Vice President, also promised that the new EVs’ designs and driving performance will be impressive, and will “set hearts racing.” As a tease for the new electric platform, Toyota showed off as part of its presentation a sketch of a Lexus-branded vehicle with a sleek, wedge-shaped profile with sharp styling, a long wheelbase and an aggressive fastback.
Unlike Toyota’s current electric vehicle development process, Nakajima also said that new Toyota and Lexus EVs would be created by a new, specialized unit led by a single leader “with full authority” that is responsible for all aspects of development, production, and business operations. This “all in one” team will handle every function related to EVs at Toyota, with the goal of bringing vehicles to market much faster, and with much greater efficiency.
Continued Investment In Hybrid Technology
While the new EV division spins up new product, Toyota will continue to invest in hybrid technology, deploying it in more models to improve efficiency and reduce emissions across the board. Indeed, some new Toyota plug-in hybrid models should be capable of over 100 miles of full-electric range. Toyota’s efforts to advance hybrid technology, combined with its new investment in EVs, should contribute to its long-term goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
You can watch Toyota’s full announcement in the embedded YouTube video, below.