Following the management change that went into effect on April 1, which saw Koji Sato succeed Akio Toyota as Toyota Motor Corporation's president and CEO, the Japanese automaker has announced it is accelerating its battery-electric vehicle offensive.
The company's chief technology officer, Hiroki Nakajima, said today at a press briefing in Tokyo on Toyota's strategy under new CEO Koji Sato that it aims to introduce 10 new battery-electric vehicle models by 2026.
Nakajima also said Toyota is targeting annual production of 1.5 million battery-powered cars by 2026, adding that the company will set up a new, specialized unit to focus on battery-electric vehicles. The new unit will be working under a single leader with full authority, with the all-in-one team to handle every function from development, production, and business operation.
Although the executive did not say it specifically, this obviously suggests Toyota is working on a dedicated BEV platform. He stressed that Toyota's next-generation BEVs will be "entirely different" from those of today, describing them as "BEVs created by carmaker."
"This new generation of BEVs will double driving range by using batteries with far greater efficiency while also offering designs and driving performance to set hearts racing."
As he said that, the picture of a Lexus fastback sedan appeared in the background. He didn't provide details about the vehicle, but we know it's a Lexus because it has the luxury brand's badge on the C-pillar. This model appears to be completely new as it was not featured in the bevy of BEVs teased by Lexus in 2021.
Gallery: Toyota Motor Corporation strategy update on BEVs
Besides this Lexus model, Toyota's revised EV product roadmap will include a three-row SUV coming in 2025 to the US, according to Toyota Executive Vice President, Yoichi Miyazaki. The electric SUV will be locally assembled with batteries from North Carolina.
The automaker will also launch two new EVs in China in 2024, in addition to the bZ4X SUV and bZ3 sedan, while an expanded bZ lineup will be offered in developed countries. In addition, Toyota plans to introduce an electric pickup truck in Asia and other emerging markets before the end of the year, as well as a compact model.
Toyota will also completely transform the landscape of its production plants. The company aims to reduce the number of processes by half, resulting in more efficient production lines that will include autonomous inspection and unmanned transport powered by connected technology.
In addition to rethinking manufacturing, the automaker plans to overhaul existing supply chains by working with suppliers to procure superior quality parts at lower prices. Interestingly, Toyota says the new EV-dedicated platform will make it possible to cut development costs and in-house investment in half per each vehicle compared to the e-TNGA platform that underpins current bZ EV models.
If achieved, Toyota's 2026 production target for BEVs would mark a sharp increase from its current output of electric vehicles. Last year, the automaker sold 2.7 million electrified vehicles worldwide, but 2.6 million of those were hybrids. The remaining 100,000 were plug-in hybrids, battery-electric vehicles, and fuel cell hydrogen electric vehicles.
Toyota reiterated its commitment to a multi-pathway approach during today's briefing, noting that it will continue to develop BEV, PHEV, FCEV, HEV, H2 and CN Fuel vehicles going forward.