Toyota Takes Steps Toward Its Electric-Car Future

JAN 24 2019 BY BRADLEY BERMAN 83

It’s not a matter of if but when Toyota introduces EVs.

A slide in a presentation at the 2018 Los Angeles Show piqued my interest. Electrify America’s chief executive Giovanni Palazzo showed the list of new EVs expected in the next four years. Lo and behold, there was a mysterious “Toyota EV” in the 2021 category.

The slide revealed just how conspicuous Toyota’s absence has been from the EV conversation. That slide, and other news in recent weeks, also makes me wonder what Toyota is planning for a 2021 electric car. The company is notoriously quiet about its future cars.

From a presentation by Electrify America

But stories from the last week give credence to a shift in thinking at Toyota.

First, Toyota and Panasonic are creating a joint venture to develop and produce high-capacity EV batteries. Toyota will hold a 51 percent stake. After the joint venture is established, control of five existing Panasonic plants will be turned over to the new company.

Toyota’s last ground-up, production-bound EV concept was a 50-mile minicar from a decade ago. The FT-EV cars remained concepts.

The title of Bloomberg’s story about the new joint venture is entitled, “Toyota Finally Has the Power in Electric Cars.” Take note: Panasonic has long been Tesla’s sole battery supplier for its cars.

The Toyota-Panasonic tie-up is unlikely to affect Tesla’s momentum. Although maybe it’s not coincidental that Nikkei on Sunday issued a story with this title: “Tesla Hints at Seeking New Battery Suppliers in Blow to Panasonic.” Is a battle brewing?

What’s more important is how Toyota could be positioned – if it so chooses – to bring practicality and affordability to the EV market. Elon Musk said last week that his company’s layoffs were part of an effort to bring down costs. According to Bloomberg, the new Toyota-Panasonic venture speeds up progress toward “the affordable (electric) car of the future.”

Toyota and Tesla collaborated on the 2012 – 2014 RAV4 EV. The partnership ended abruptly.

Sure, Toyota continues to throw a wet blanket on EVs. That makes good strategic sense for the company in 2019. Jim Lentz, Toyota’s North America president, last week said, “With EVs, I think it’s going to be a while. I think we’ve overstated our belief EVs will take over the world.”

But statements like this don’t mean that Toyota will stay on the sidelines forever. Remember, in October 2018 Japanese sources reported that Toyota established a dedicated electric-car research and development division called the “Toyota ZEV Factory.” And in late 2017, Toyota said that it would sell more than 10 battery-electric vehicles worldwide by the early 2020s. The rollout will start in China before hitting Japan, India, Europe, and the United States.

Toyota, the automotive world’s most notable skeptic of electric vehicles, might be quiet about its EV plans these days. (I’ve reached out to them about its plug-in hybrid and EV plans – with no response.) But evidence is mounting that it’s getting closer to making a move.

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83 Comments on "Toyota Takes Steps Toward Its Electric-Car Future"

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Nice to see Toyota teaming up with the leader in EV battery technology. The last thing they want is battery issues like those other makers sticking with air cooled batteries to save a few bucks, and kick the early battery replacement can down the road for the owner to deal with.

Not a team up but more like you not going to be making batteries for Tesla

This is a separate venture outside of the Tesla and Panasonic partnership. Toyota doesn’t own any of Panasonic, just 51% of the new partnership organisation.

I believe in Toyota.

Really, just late last year Toyoda execs were totally dismissive of battery EVs and still pushing for Hybrids and Hydrogen fuel cells. Not sure what you are exactly believing in Toyoda.

Hybrids and pure ICE cars will be with us for a while. The process of ICE replacement will be gradual, and there is still a lot of work to be done in the BEV tech itself before it can go fully commercial – without incentives, and in all segments of the automotive market.

Where you like the FCEV tech or not, it is electric propulsion, and it if a part of the rEVolution, Apart from FCEV, Toyota is also working on the solid-state battery tech. Whether we will see the small, cheap and fast-charging solid state batteries, or a super-duper fuel cells in future, I don’t know, but I know for sure that if you sit on your hands, nothing will happen. Toyota is not sitting on their hands, hence my respect for them.

NO subsidies must be the most fair and best way going forward.
If ALL subsisies and not only for EVs were cut we might se a jump in EV sales.
And why not force the fossil industries to pay for all the lives and health issues their air pollution causes?
Also, there is another gigantic cost coming to all taxpayers ww. It may have something to do with global warming, why not let the fossil industry proove they ar not to blame?

AGREE. The goal (only one really) is maintaining a reasonable standard of living while making less CO2. To this end the current Prius (styling aside) and the Camry and new Rav 4 hybrids are fantastic competitively priced alternatives to standard vehicles and sell without taxpayer support (tax credits, rebates). They may well be transitional but are are still significantly better (less bad) than comparable non hybrid vehicles.

We (the world’s well off) need a strong carbon tax (rather than various subsidies) to push us all in the right direction (yes I know it’s politically DOA for now).

We also need geoengineering (sun blocking aerosols in the upper atmosphere) to stave off catastrophic warming while we slowly (and it, unfortunately, WILL be slowly) reduce global CO2 emissions.

HEVs is the perfect practical solution globally in today’s time. Less advanced economies are more populous and has more vehicles on road. EV needs strong support in terms of infrastructure and developing economies cant have this soon. Until then, practically, lets take one step by reducing carbon footprint least by 10-15% with HEV. Hence advocating HEV [Hybrid Electric Vehicles].

Which one, the one with BEVs or the without BEVs

Yes, John, there is a Toyota, but they don’t make evs, or deliver presents.

Interesting… Toyota EV on the presentation of Electrify America? This implies that Toyota ditches CHAdeMO and goes for CCS. Smart decision. I know that Toyota EV on Japan will have CHAdeMO. Only Japan.

Really, how exactly do you ditch something you don’t have and never had?

Wrong again. I guess you have never really looked at a Prius Prime.

My father in law’s new Prius Prime charging right now on my driveway does not have Chaedmo

The Japan model has CHAdeMO. The Prius Prime in the USA doesn’t have CHAdeMO but it does have a cut out where CHAdeMO outlet is supposed to go. The Mitsubishi Outlander has the exact same outlet configuration in the USA but it does have a CHAdeMO outlet.

It is not CCS. Just Type 1.

No fast charge

No it doesn’t mean that at all. The Prius Prime is already set to use CHAdeMO and can CHAdeMO charge in Japan. If Toyota goes with a higher power CHAdeMO plug the higher power EA dual chargers could be easily modified to accommodate CHAdeMO.

I’m not a CHAdeMO fan but I don’t see the demand for CHAdeMO waning in the USA any time especially if Toyota builds EVs that use it.

Ability to use vehicle as power supply after natural disaster is considered huge thing in earthquake prone Japan that doesn’t even have unified electric grid among islands.

Chademo has it – Toyota showed such option with Chademo plug in Mirai.
CCS doesn’t have it yet. It may be standardized some time in the future in CCS too, but it doesn’t look close.
Besides all chargers are Chademo in Japan and agreement with China to develop joint standard was announced a while ago. Going with multiple regional standards like Hyundai did is an option, but it would be extra pain for engineers to design and test extra options.

China has its own EV charging protocol now. Can’t call it a “standard” because it’s not used outside China.

It’s entirely possible that Japan may start using China’s protocol, as CHAdeMO seems to be on the way out. Doubly so if Japan sees China as a potential market for Japanese made EVs, altho political tensions between Japan and China have a very long history, and are unlikely to evaporate.

China and Japan have already agreed on a common charging system to go forward with.

I read that CHAdeMO plug on EA dual chargers only reaches to 100 kW. Toyota would be stupid to stick CHAdeMO for the US market because there are no charging stations that support 400 kW. Unless Toyota have to build massive electric car 400 kW CHAdeMO charging network across US – requires MASSIVE investment. Just switch to CCS or being dusted by its competitors using 450 kW CCS.

The giant awakes.

Yawn.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

zzzzzzz………

Prius for decades. 5 speed trannies until recently. They’re overrated.

Toyota hybrids, most notably the Prius, deserve a lot of praise for their TCO, reliability and contribution to a cleaner air. With time, gas-electric hybrids will probably be replaced by a newer, better and cleaner tech, but it wouldn’t diminish what Toyota hybrids have achieved in 1997-currently.

Agreed. I have no beef with the Prius, however, I think it’s dangerous for Toyota to sit on the Prius as their ‘green platform for too long. They need to be developing the successor to the Prius, which they may or may not be doing. Henry Ford thought the Model T was the only car anyone would ever need up to 1927.

Used to be a big believer in Toyota and was super happy with my Prius. But there anti-BEV stance has completely turned me off from the company. It would take a lot to get me to consider one of their vehicles again. Landscape for BEV’s could be quite different by 2021 when the chart indicates they might have something.

Toyota does not have an anti-BEV stance as a policy. They are working on improving the fundamental battery tech that might just make the BEV commercially superior to ICE in every segment of the automotive market – without incentives.

Good luck to them with that research, but that’s a plan for 2030. Less claims, more results please.

They need to have plans for 2020, and it looks like they’re finally showing some hope in that direction now. Better late than never.

I would be interested in seeing what they come up with in the near future, hopefully something that makes them stand out in the EV market.

Yesterday there was an article on Ford’s EVs, today on Toyota’s EVs.
Both are deadwoods dragging their heels on EVs.

Probably Toyota is talking about their Hybrids.

“Both are deadwoods dragging their heels on EVs.”

Nah, that’s just the groupthink around here. If Toyota has something planned for 2021, they’d have to be working on it as early as 2015. Bringing a vehicle to market is a lot of work as Tesla could attest with the Model 3 experience.

The perspective of early-adopter is a big problem. Getting the high-volume low-margin view that mainstream consumer sales will have simply doesn’t happen here… yet. We’re still in that first stage, the one with subsidies.

This whole article is based on a low quality picture someone took at a presentation. I wouldn’t put too much stock in such wild assumptions. There are a lot of EVs missing from that chart, like the Nissan Leaf and all the next generation Nissan BEVs, and the graphic of the Toyota could easily be misleading.

… and the photo of the BMW iX3 is that of the i3. Kind of embarrassing for an organization created to provide chargers for EV’s.

Not as embarrassing as mixing up power and energy! Look at that graphic. Units, people, UNITS!

Yup, this is very definitely in the “rumor” category. The fact that the car model isn’t even named makes it look to me like nothing but speculation on someone’s part.

Good move on Toyota’s part. The easiest way to make money during the electrification revolution is by selling batteries to everybody.

That will continue to be Panasonic selling battery cells, not Toyota.

51% means that they owned the company

That wet blanket is the least of Toyota’s problems. Over here (UK) they’re making a thing of advertising mild hybrids as “no need to plug in”. Talk about spin and FUD.

I’d go as far as to say that attitude (which is not necessarily global) is quite offputting for any future BEV they might produce. They (and Mazda, similarly) should get their act together.

It’s logical for them to market their existing products like that. And the moment they have an EV on the lot for people to buy, you can bet their tune will change.

1)GM,Ford, and VW “talk” about the affordable mass market EV in an indirect slam at Tesla but then they don’t actually make affordable mass market EVs.

2) Like VW, Toyota is planning on compliance vehicles all over the world. Then act as though they are trailblazers for being compelled to make ZEV. The biggest legal requirement will be China, then Norther Europe, then California-CARB States plus Quebec.

Add British Columbia to your list of ZEV jurisdictions.

I don’t think VW is making a compliance’s car

Not yet, but them a few more years.

The RAV4 Electric is/was a great vehicle. IMO if Toyota brought back the RAV4 Electric, but actually produced more than 2600 of them, it would sell like hot cakes. Probably the 64kWh battery from LG Chem would give it at least 220 miles driving range. If they have 100kWh CCS charging, even better.

Well, Toyota (and every other shop in the world) will sell such vehicles when somebody will invent batteries that would provide 220+ miles range and sustained 100+ kW charging to RAV4 EV without increasing mass and price tag up to the roof and without using flammable electrolyte.

Sakichi Toyoda had set big prize for such battery inventor since 1930s I think. You may still apply, nobody was able to claim it 😉

“Sakichi Toyoda had set big prize for such battery inventor since 1930s I think. You may still apply, nobody was able to claim it ”

That’s because the goal is for a battery with equivalent energy density to gasoline. Over 100 times best batteries today.

Which isn’t necessary to match the weight of ice. The battery only needs to weigh as much as all the redundant ICE shlt.

Fuel, exhaust, transmission, radiator, half the engine.

Where pretty much there today if you compare the Tesla Model 3 and the BMW 3 series.

“battery with equivalent energy density to gasoline” yet over 80% of gasoline energy is waste heat during combustion cycle. How much energy from battery is waste heat during BEV propulsion ? Not 80%.

I think it might be 3%-5%.
Or another way to look at it is 4.5x as efficient as ICE.

Look, someone is trying to out propagandise VW in the future EV announcements.

None of their current cars make any sense. All their announcements are laughable. Other OEMs offer better EVs.

More greenwashing from Toyota. I’ll believe it when the new Toyota bev actually hits the streets next decade.
NOW, Toyota should stop building all Prius vehicles except the Prius prime. Prime sales will be a majority of Prius sales this year anyways….Toyota should speed up the eventual demise of the hybrid only Prius.

A lot of conclusions and statements on this forum is based on current market conditions, which are distorted by EV subsidies. These subsidies are not sustainable. Once they are gone, regular hybrids will come back and make more sense than Prime.

No, they certainly won’t. The global trend is quite clearly towards increasing restrictions on emissions. The current backwards movement in the U.S. will end in 2021, with a new presidential administration.

The EV revolution has entered the S-curve of a market shift during a disruptive tech revolution. Anybody who thinks that won’t continue, anyone who thinks PEV sales won’t increase exponentially over the coming 10-15 years, is in for a rude awakening.

I am not debating EV revolution, I said hybrids will stay. They will become standard gasoline model, kinda like what we see with Toyota. Plug ins will increase market share but subsidies have to decrease and eventually go.

Too many folks know about n want actually ev driving without the regressive ice connection. Bevs n n high use aer phevs as transitional vehicles will be taking over more n more next decade with hybrids being phased out….eventually

Thanks for the great rebuttal to the old Dino thinking of agzand

Plain wrong. EV sell very well on plenty of markets without subsidies.

Can you list these markets ? Because there is huge incentives is USA, China and Europe. Japan, India and South Korea also have incentives.

What is not sustainable is using fossil fuels for transportation. Whether subsidies are economically sustainable is a rabbit hole. There are very direct subsidies in the US that have been going on for decades. From health insurance to real estate. They can all be viewed an “non sustainable” but it is probably better to say that they are not ideal for a proper distribution of capital and labor – rather than not sustainable.

The US could easily absorb $7500 for EVs even at 100% market penetration. 17 million auto sales in 2018. Multiply that by $7500 and you get $127 billion. The federal budget is $4 trillion – give or take. That makes the full on subsidy at 100% market penetration just 3% of the federal budget.

Government makes massive money from fossil fuel taxation. You will see soon.

Define massive. Everything that the federal government (especially combined with state) is massive.

Fed n state govts give much more in direct n indirect subsidies to fossil fuel industries

No, don’t be foolish agzard.
Efficacy and best bang for the buck will win out. Prime doesn’t need subsidies as it is much cheaper than what old plug in Prius used to cost but more than double the aer. People recognize that n will pay for it as a reliable transitional phev.

“Remember, in October 2018 Japanese sources reported that Toyota established a dedicated electric-car research and development division called the ‘Toyota ZEV Factory’.”

Former IEVs editor Jay Cole said the usual development period for a new car model is 5 years, with 4 years being possible for a rush job.

If Toyota started working on a clean-sheet design for a robust PEV (Plug-in EV) in 2018, the earliest we could reasonably hope to see that enter production is 2022.

My guess is the reason the hypothetical 2021 “Toyota EV” isn’t even named, is because it’s just a guess on someone’s part that Toyota will debut a robust PEV — something with significantly more EV range than the Prius Prime — that year. My guess is that’s too optimistic.

’97 Prius was designed from scratch in less than 4 years, by the time no suppliers existed for automotive inverters, batteries and AC synchro motor-generators, and used real expanded Otto cycle for the first time.

Yes, but that’s not really statistically significant, and in addition designing your first fully electric vehicle, by yourself, will naturally take a bit longer.

I guess it might be an electric CHR. China-only of course.

Maybe Toyota is planning on taking the EV world by surprise, instead of filling people’s heads with empty promises like VW and others…

So nice to see the sales of the non-plugin prius going down. Also their FCV sales, another non-plugin turd, are laughable. This was their Future, now it is Future in the Past.

Toyota makes many more hybrids than before, when Prius was the king. They might even kill Prius, it’s spirit lives on in every single Toyota hybrid, which will soon be 50% of their production (about 5 million hybrids a year)

So… my constant yammering on this site about how WE DON’T FREAKING KNOW WHAT CAR COMPANIES ARE DOING BEHIND THE SCENES, AND THEREFORE SOME OF THEM COULD BE MUCH CLOSER TO INTRODUCING AN EV THAN WE KNOW might actually be correct?

Fascinating.

I’d say something here about hoping we all learn a lesson from unfolding events, whether related to Toyota or not, but that would be naive of me. Carry on.

Would definitely consider a Toyota ev when they have Ssb

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Hope they bring the Rav4 EV back with 200AER.

Toyota’s research on solid state batteries is not mentioned in this article.

Looks like it’s going to be below average power, too.

Based on what ?