During a press conference in Japan on Monday, Toyota’s next CEO, Koji Sato, said the automaker will be undergoing a transformation driven by electrification, intelligence and diversification. More importantly, it will adopt an EV-first mindset.
This clashes with the old way of doing things under outgoing CEO Akio Toyoda, who will step down on April 1 but remain as Chairman.
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Toyota has long focused on hybrids, a technology it has become the poster child for, but has simultaneously lost precious ground in the full EV race, earning plenty of criticism in the process.
To be clear, Toyota still wants to “stay in tune with customers around the world and provide diverse options” (hybrid, plug-in hybrid, fuel cell, etc.), claiming that “one-size-fits-all” is not the solution, but battery electric vehicles (BEV) will be the priority going forward.
“Now that the time is right, we will accelerate BEV development with a new approach,” Sato said. “Specifically, we will develop next-generation BEVs for Lexus brand by 2026, with everything from the battery and platform to how a car is built optimized for BEVs, while expanding our current BEV lineup.”
Calling it a “business reform,” Sato added that, in order to deliver attractive BEVs to more customers, “we must streamline the structure of the car, and we must drastically change the way we do business, from manufacturing to sales and service.”
Lexus, which plans to become fully electric in North America, Europe and China by 2030, will lead this transformation.
Back in December of 2021, Toyota set a goal to sell 3.5 million BEVs annually by the end of the decade. Sato promised to give more details in April once he officially takes over as Toyota CEO.
The Toyota bZ4X and Lexus RZ crossovers have only recently launched in Canada and don’t have the technology to compete with the leading EVs on the market. What’s coming next? We don’t have an answer at the moment.