Japanese giant to simplify future line-up to accommodate fast rise in electric vehicle uptake
Toyota is rebooting its plans to launch 30 battery-electric models by 2030 in response to the unexpectedly rapid uptake of EVs, according to a new report.
In December 2021, Toyota and its luxury brand, Lexus, showed 15 concept cars intended to spearhead its strategy to sell 3.5 million EVs per year by 2030.
However, Toyota has now axed some of these projects to simplify the plans in the interest of speed and cost-effectiveness, Reuters has reported. These allegedly include the Compact Cruiser and battery-electric Crown.
A working group has also been established to make the e-TNGA platform – which underpins the Toyota bZ4X and the upcoming Lexus RZ – more cost-effective.
This platform is a derivative of Toyota’s New Global Architecture, designed so that electric vehicles can be produced on the same lines as petrol and diesel models (such as the Toyota RAV4) – which may ultimately compromise volumes.
Measures being considered to reduce production costs include simplifying the e-TNGA’s thermal management system by merging its passenger and powertrain cooling, reported Reuters.
Meanwhile, the working group is also considering the early retirement of e-TNGA in favour of a dedicated EV platform, to account for increased demand.
A new platform would be due in roughly five years, two sources told Reuters – although one said “there is little time to waste”.
Developments made to accommodate the rapid rise in demand for EVs would be benchmarked against Tesla, Reuters reported, in light of the American brand’s “rapid-fire adoptions of cutting-edge innovations”.
Toyota has historically been slow to embrace electric vehicles, despite being an early champion of hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell technologies.
Its first mass-market battery-electric model, the bZ4X SUV, was launched earlier this year but its roll-out was delayed by a recall concerning a risk that its wheels could detach while driving.
That Toyota is now reported to be accelerating its electrification plans to chase Tesla’s growing hold on the industry and this represents a major adjustment of the firm’s attitude towards electrification.
Gill Pratt, CEO of the Toyota Research Institute, told us in July: “I accept that today, for some people, battery electric is exactly the right answer. But independent research suggests that’s not true for everyone.”
He added: “You can force change in lots of ways. The question is whether you’re forcing a good change.
“The vast majority of people are faced with range anxiety when they consider an electric car, and the solution offered by car makers is to sell cars with bigger and bigger batteries. The result is bigger batteries with capacity that rarely gets used and heavier cars.”