Toyota to step up investment and development of fully electric vehicles during this decade

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While Toyota has expressed a view that suggests it will not stop producing internal combustion engines so quickly – to provide customers with greater choice and not leave any customer behind – it is no less committed to electrification of its products in the quest to achieve carbon neutrality. As a pioneer in hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) technology, having introduced the first mass-produced car with a hybrid powertrain in the late 1990s, the carmaker has naturally been promoting the technology which also contributes to reducing toxic exhaust emissions and fuel consumption.

Long history of EV developments
However, in the longer term, fully electric vehicles are going to become mainstream products, beginning with battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and progressing to fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). In fact, the company has an EV development division since 1992 and an early production EV that went on sale in 1996 was the RAV4 EV, Today, besides a wide range of HEVs, Toyota already offers BEVs and even FCEVs, the latter now in the second generation with the Mirai.

Toyota sold (in limited numbers) a fully electric model – the RAV4 EV – in 1996 and today, it has even begun selling electric vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells like the Mirai (below).

The crucial technology
Battery technology is obviously crucial for every carmaker and Toyota will invest greatly in R&D for this area as well as in the supply system. The carmaker has had a subsidiary fully involved in battery development and manufacturing and has aimed to bring about cost reduction of at least 50% per vehicle during this decade. At the same time, safety, longer service life and high quality will be advanced.

Battery technology is a crucial area for electric vehicles and Toyota will be spending heavily to develop more advanced technologies as well as push battery cost down.

“Over the past 26 years, we have invested nearly 1 trillion yen and produced more than 19 million batteries. We believe that our accumulated experience is an asset that gives us a competitive edge. Going forward, we will increase our new investment in batteries from the 1.5 trillion yen announced in September to 2 trillion yen, aiming to realize even more-advanced, high-quality, and affordable batteries,” said Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation, at a press conference in Tokyo this afternoon.

1 trillion yen = approximately RM37.2 billion
The bZ4x is the first of the new range of BEVs and production is now underway with sales set to begin in 2022.
Toyota’s range of BEVs by the end of the decade will look something like this.
As long as Akio Toyoda is leading Toyota, we will still get sportscars – even if they run on electricity instead of petrol (although the company is now exploring use of hydrogen as a fuel in combustion engines).

Sales volume of BEVs raised
Besides outlining the company’s BEV strategies, Mr. Toyoda also revealed 16 Toyota and Lexus BEV models that it is readying for market launch, starting with the Toyota bZ4X which has already had been shown in production form and will begin sales in 2022. By 2030, the company is going to roll out 30 BEV models and is anticipating sales of 3.5 million BEVs globally. This is an increase of 75% on the previous annual sales projection of 2 million BEVs mentioned in May this year. The Lexus brand aims to have BEVs, which will be in every segment, account for 100% of the total sales in Europe, North America, and China by 2030.

Lexus will develop a full range of electrically-powered models, including sportscars that may look like the one below.

Lexus RZ BEV prototype during development testing. First teaser image of production model shown below. It will go on sale in 2022.

In this diversified and uncharted era, it is important to flexibly change the type and quantity of products produced while keeping an eye on market trends. At the same time, energy plays a critical role in achieving carbon neutrality. For this reason, Toyota wants to provide a diversified range of carbon-neutral options to meet whatever might be the needs and situations in every country and region.

Toyota Hilux BEV of the future?
Just like today, Toyota will have something for every segment of the market to suit different requirements and conditions.

Markets and customers decide
“It is not us but local markets and our customers who decide which options to choose. As for why we try to keep so many options, in terms of business management, one might think it would be more efficient to focus on fewer choices. However, we believe that quickly adapting to changes in the future is more important than trying to predict the future, which is uncertain. That is why we want to keep options available for our customers until the right path is clear,” said Mr. Toyoda.

Toyota: “No customer is left behind” in quest for carbon neutrality

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