Long a holdout from the complete conversion to electric vehicles, Toyota continued its slide toward becoming more focused on EVs announcing plans to build 600,000 annually by 2025.
The new number includes Toyota and Lexus vehicles, according to the Nikkei.
Toyota’s longer-term goal has been to sell 1.5 million EVs globally by 2026 and 3.5 million by 2030. The jump to 600,000 is a big one given the company produced and sold less than 25,000 last year — including Lexus.
The plans call for the company to produce six times last year’s number: 150,000, with the number rising to 190,000 next year. Once thought to be unlikely, the company’s change of heart began when Akio Toyoda, grandson of the company’s founder, stepped down as CEO last year and his replacement, then-Lexus chief Koji Sato, began focusing on EV production.
Better batteries means more vehicles
While it’s moving to produce more EVs, the reason for doing so is its push to produce more and better batteries — quickly. The company recently showed off several examples of concept vehicles powered by these improved batteries.
One new concept model powered by next-generation lithium technology could deliver as much as 497 miles of range per charge, the automaker said. And another prototype relying on even more advanced solid-state batteries offers the potential of reaching as much as 621 miles of range. The first of these models will reach production by 2026, with the second to follow as early as 2027.
“We will need various options for batteries, just like we have different variations of engines,” said Takero Kato, president of Toyota’s new BEV Factory. “It is important to offer battery solutions compatible with a variety of models and customer needs,” Kato added during a technical workshop.
Sato, who continues to allow hybrids to retain their lofty perch in the Toyota lineup, is also giving the development team the leeway — and financial support — to bring more EVs to market.
Toyota “has the resources to shift direction if needed,” as one senior official told Headlight.News.
Other changes coming
Toyota claims its new batteries will have other advantages. For one thing, they’ll be shorter than today’s cells, it claims. Where the batteries in the bZ4X stand about 150 mm in height, or 5.9 inches, these advanced cells could dip to barely 4 inches. Since EVs typically mount their batteries below the load floor, that could permit the automaker to lower the overall height of a vehicle – or design a vehicle with more headroom and cargo space.
Toyota’s BEV factory is looking for other ways to improve range and performance, while lowering the cost of its EVs. As it did decades ago with its vaunted Toyota Manufacturing System, the automaker is looking for ways to simplify the production of EVs.
One approach would see it replace the hundreds of parts needed in an EV’s platform with just a handful of “giga-castings.”