Toyota’s newly elected CEO, Koji Sato, is tasked with pulling the automaker out of the past and into the modern era. After announcing plans to introduce 10 new EV models on Friday with 1.5 million in electric vehicle sales by 2026, is the automaker doing enough?
After selling more than 10.5 million vehicles last year, Toyota maintained its position as the world’s largest automaker over Volkswagen for the third straight year.
Toyota is known for being a pioneer in hybrid technology with more than 20 years of experience since releasing the first Prius, but the automaker has struggled in shifting to fully electric, zero-emission vehicles.
Akio Toyoda, the 66-year-old grandson of the company’s founder, who was one of the most outspoken critics of going all in on EVs, announced he would step down from his position in January “to advance change at Toyota.”
The automakers underwhelming efforts toward zero-emissions EVs have resulted in one of the least developed supply chains for reducing emissions, making it the target of climate activists globally.
Toyoda has been replaced by former Lexus chief branding officer Koji Sato. With newly elected leader Sato at the helm, many believed the company could and should take a new direction before it was too late.
In February, Sato revealed he would boost Toyota’s EV efforts with plans to implement a new business structure and strategy when he took over beginning this month, claiming, “Now that the time is right, we will accelerate BEV development with a new approach.”
Toyota plans 10 new EV models, 1.5 million sales by 2026
In a press release Friday, Sato revealed his vision and the new structure he aims to create for the future of Toyota.
Sato said, “We want to protect the beautiful Earth and enrich the lives of people around the world,” continuing to explain:
For the car to continue being a necessary part of society, we need to change the future of the car.
For that to happen, Toyota says it is committed to achieving carbon neutrality over the entire cycle of its vehicles, but by… 2050.
As intermittent targets, Toyota aims to reduce CO2 emissions for the vehicles it sells globally by 33% by 2030 and over 50% by 2035, with 2019 as a base.
Sato says the first thing the automaker will do is “implement electrification,” which it has the ability to do so now.
Hiroki Nakajima, executive vice president at Toyota, explained the company’s new electrification strategy, including 10 new battery electric vehicles by 2026, representing 1.5 million EV sales annually.
Toyota also hinted that a new EV platform may be in the works, after claiming its new generation of BEVs – “entirely different from those today” – will double its driving range.
To drive down costs, the Japanese automaker is taking another page from Tesla’s playbook by focusing on manufacturing efficiency with autonomous processes.
Meanwhile, Toyota is sticking to its “multi-pathway approach” including hybrids and fuel cell vehicles.
Toyota said it will increase battery efficiency in its plug-in hybrids to extend EV driving range beyond 124 miles (200 km). As for fuel cell vehicles, Toyota is pursuing mass production with a focus on commercial vehicles.
Although 1.5 million EV sales may seem like a lot, when considering Toyota sold over 10.5 million vehicles last year, it would still represent less than 15% of total sales.
In comparison, Tesla sold 1.3 million fully electric cars last year with another record 422,875 vehicles delivered in the first quarter alone.
While many automakers are already achieving double-digit EV sales, or even 100%, Toyota is sticking to a modest goal yet again despite claims of going “Beyond Zero” with its bZ campaign.
Volvo, Mercedes, Jaguar, Cadillac, Rolls Royce, Alfa Romeo, and more have committed to going all-electric by 2030. Even Ford, GM, and Stellantis are targeting 50% fully electric sales by 2030.
Despite an open letter calling for Sato to change the direction (including phasing out hybrids and plug-in hybrids) of Toyota from 54 consumer and environmental groups last month, the leader has spoken.