Toyota unveiled a new generation of electric batteries, with which it will produce new EVs with a range of 600 miles (1,000km).
Toyota hesitated — and caused a revolution within the Japanese auto group.
Akio Toyoda, the grandson of the founder, had to step down this year, paying for his reluctance to embrace electric vehicles as Tesla surged on the stock market and became the darling of auto-industry investors.
Toyoda on April 1 was succeeded by Koji Sato, who had been the boss of Lexus, Toyota’s premium brand.
Well before taking over in the front office, Sato had made clear that Toyota would convert to EVs and put an end to doubt on the subject. The group would also speed development of battery-powered vehicles.
“We want to listen to customers around the world and offer them various options,” but “in this multidirectional approach, 100%-electric vehicles are also an important option,” Sato said in February.
Toyota Creates Battery-Electric Factory Unit
“While making efforts to save energy (via hybrid vehicles), in the medium or long term, we will encourage a switch to electric vehicles,” the new CEO argued.
Four months after he made these promises, Toyota has unveiled its next-generation batteries, which will be accompanied by a full lineup of battery electric vehicles from 2026.
The automaker began by creating a new unit in May called BEV Factory.
“What we hope to achieve with BEV Factory, an organization dedicated to battery EVs launched in May, is to change the future with BEVs through the transformation of cars, manufacturing, and the way we work,” Toyota (TM) – Get Free Report said in a presentation on June 13.
The company’s next-generation batteries will enable it to build an entry-level electric vehicle with a range of 620 miles, or 1,000km on a single charge.
If Toyota delivers, the carmaker would offer something not offered by Tesla, the world leader in electric vehicles.
Elon Musk’s group offers the Model S luxury sedan, equipped with a battery with a range of 405 miles, or 652km. This is the longest distance a Tesla (TSLA) – Get Free Report vehicle currently offers with a single charge.
The entry-level Model 3 sedan offers a range of 272 miles, or 438km, on a single battery charge.
Toyota would therefore gain a big advantage since many EV buyers consider range critically important, particularly because charging stations are still relatively sparse in the U.S.
Toyota also wants to change the way it makes these electric cars. The car body will be constructed from three main components in a new modular structure.
It also plans to reduce the development costs and factory investments by adopting so-called gigacasting, which means using high-pressure aluminum die-casting machines to build cars faster and more efficiently. This technology, also known as gigapresses, was pioneered by Tesla.
“In addition, self-propelling production technology will reduce the processes and plant investment by half,” the company said.
Toyota added that everyone will be working on the same site and with the same awareness of the potential production issues, to speed decision-making and initial response.
Toyota’s New Lineup: SUVs, Sedans and MPVs
Toyota plans to roll out its next-generation battery-electric vehicles globally and as a full lineup in 2026.
It plans to produce 3.5 million electric vehicles per year by 2030, including 1.7 million units on the new BEV platform.
Among the first models that BEV Factory will produce are a compact sedan and a family sedan, two SUVs — a midsize and a full size — and a multipurpose vehicle or a family vehicle, according to the presentation made by Takero Kato, president of the BEV Factory.
Toyota did not provide further details on these vehicles.
The group also indicates that it has discovered a revolutionary technology enabling it to overcome the challenge of battery durability.
Toyota is “reviewing its introduction to conventional HEVs and accelerating [its] development as a battery for BEVs.”
HEVs, or hybrid electric vehicles, are powered by an internal combustion engine in combination with one or more electric motors that use energy stored in batteries, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
“The next-generation battery EVs will adopt new batteries, through which we are determined to become a world leader in battery EV energy consumption. With the resources we earn, we will improve our product appeal to exceed customer expectations and secure earnings,” Toyota said.
Finally, the automaker introduced itself as a “carmaker-produced battery EV that inspires the hearts of all customers.”
This change marks a radical shift taken by the new CEO. Prior to its arrival, the maker of the popular Camry sedan had taken the opposite bet in the industry by developing hybrid vehicles, like its bestselling Prius model. It has also pushed for hydrogen-fuel-cell cars.
Forget Tesla – We’re All in on This EV Stock. By Luc Olinga, The Street.