Toyota Motor Corporation is reportedly developing an EV-only platform to increase the competitiveness and efficiency of its electric vehicles and cut production costs.
Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan's largest and most respectable newspapers, reports that the decision is part of Toyota's plan to start mass-producing EVs as it anticipates a rapid increase in consumer demand for electric vehicles amid steep gasoline price increases.
The publication notes that Toyota's new strategy aims to put the company in direct competition with EV industry leader Tesla.
If the information is accurate – the newspaper does not cite any sources – it marks a significant shift in the company's electrification strategy just as Toyota has announced a major executive reshuffle in the management chain of command.
The company said today that Toyota President and CEO Akio Toyoda will be replaced by current Toyota COO and Lexus International President Koji Sato effective April 1, 2023. Akio Toyoda, the grandson of the company founder, will continue as chairman of the board of directors as of April 1.
The company did not reveal details about the changes and the short press release did not include any statements from the two executives.
Gallery: Toyota bZ Compact SUV Concept
When Toyota developed its first high-volume production model, the bZ4X SUV, it decided to adapt its TNGA modular ICE platform for the electric SUV instead of developing an EV-only architecture.
Toyota originally intended to use the same e-TNGA platform for other future EV models, but it now appears to have changed its mind. The e-TNGA architecture shares characteristics with the TNGA counterpart used for gasoline-powered or hybrid cars, and as a result it has a complicated shape and parts that are completely unnecessary for electric vehicles.
This leads to higher manufacturing costs for Toyota EVs than those for Tesla's EV-only car platforms. According to Asahi Shimbun's report, Toyota decided it could not generate decent profits with EVs and compete with Tesla if it kept using the e-TNGA platform – hence the decision to design an EV-dedicated architecture from scratch.
The report notes the platform will be flat like a skateboard and ideal to mass-produce EVs. A flat surface gives designers more choice on where to mount the batteries, compared with the bZ4X's e-TNGA platform.
So when are we going to see the first Toyota EV based on the new platform? Asahi Shimbun says Toyota has yet to decide that, but based on anticipated demand, it expects it will be between 2027 and 2028.
In the meantime, Toyota will accelerate the production and development of electric vehicles until it completes the new EV-only platform.