Toyota Considers Revamping EV Strategy, Using Tesla as Benchmark: Report

Toyota is looking to reboot its electric vehicle (EV) strategy to better compete with other automakers including the likes of Tesla, according to four sources familiar with the plans, reports Reuters.

The sources say the plans are still in development, but proposals currently under review would shift Toyota’s $38 billion EV rollout plan announced in 2021.

The sources asked to remain unnamed due to the matter not yet being public. With the switch, Toyota hopes it will better compete with Tesla and other EV manufacturers.

“The review was triggered in part by the realisation by some Toyota engineers and executives that Toyota was losing the factory cost war to Tesla on EVs, the sources said,” reports Reuters. These sources say Toyota underestimated EV demand, believing they would not take off for many decades.

One group at the automaker is expected to outline the new plans by early 2023 to make improvements to the existing EV platform, according to the sources. Toyota’s e-TNGA platform was unveiled in 2019 and a next-gen platform may lower costs, says sources. The current bZ4X EV crossover uses this platform.

During this time, Toyota has pumped the brakes on around 30 EV projects, including the Toyota Compact Cruiser and the battery-electric Crown, as noted by the sources and confirmed in a document viewed by Reuters.

“In order to achieve carbon neutrality, Toyota’s own technology – as well as the work we are doing with a range of partners and suppliers – is essential,” the automaker said in response to Reuters.

Toyota’s EV review is being led by Shigeki Terashi, former chief competitive officer, says six unnamed sources. “What’s driving Mr Terashi’s effort is the EV’s faster-than-anticipated takeoff and rapid-fire adoptions of cutting-edge innovations by Tesla and others,” one of the unnamed sources.

The automaker is considering casting machines like Tesla’s Giga Press to bring down costs. Toyota is also reviewing its EV thermal management to combine it with climate control and electric powertrain, similar to what Tesla already has in place, says sources. This would allow the company to reduce battery pack sizes and weight, trimming costs.

Although Toyota says it’s committed to carbon neutrality, the automaker declined to share specific initiatives to reach the goal.

Ten years ago Toyota had invested in a stake in Tesla to create a battery-electric version of the RAV4. At this time, many Toyota engineers dismissed Tesla’s technology as no threat, says sources. The electric RAV4 was axed in 2014 and Toyota dumped its Tesla stake in 2017.

The news comes after Toyota was forced to restart bZ4X production, due to the wheels falling off of some of its first builds of the EV.