By on December 14, 2021

On Tuesday, Toyota Motor Corp. announced a commitment of 8 trillion yen ($70 billion USD) toward the goal of achieving carbon neutrality someday. Though the concept of any multinational manufacturing entity totally nullifying their carbon footprint seems kind of laughable, so we’ll be referencing this as another electrification strategy — which is still a big deal considering how EV averse Toyota has been thus far.

Despite being an environmental trendsetter with the Prius Hybrid, Toyota has been hesitant to formally commit itself to transition its lineup toward being reliant on battery power. However, President Akio Toyoda has just proudly confirmed that the Japanese automaker would be earmarking the funds for exactly that purpose, noting that the brand (along with Lexus) would be spending the money through 2030 to make sure its global sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) reach 3.5 million vehicles annually. Though the most enjoyable aspect of the release was the direct manner it was presented, with Toyoda-san being impressively honest about modern automotive trends. 

“We are living in a diversified world and in an era in which it is hard to predict the future. Therefore, it is difficult to make everyone happy with a one-size-fits-all option. That is why Toyota wants to prepare as many options as possible for our customers around the world. We believe that all electrified vehicles can be divided into two categories, depending on the energy that they use,” President Toyoda said during the presentation. “One category is that of ‘carbon-reducing vehicles.’ If the energy that powers vehicles is not clean, the use of an electrified vehicle, no matter what type it might be, would not result in zero CO2 emissions. The other category is that of ‘carbon-neutral vehicles.’ Vehicles in this category run on clean energy and achieve zero CO2 emissions in the whole process of their use. We at Toyota will do our utmost to realize such vehicles.”

This is said to result in a mélange of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery-electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel-cell cars that gradually supplant products using straight-up internal combustion powertrains. Half of the $70 billion will be allocated specifically for the development and manufacturing of BEVs, however. Though Toyoda said the company needed to be mindful of the kind of products it’s bringing to the table if its environmental aspirations are to be taken seriously.

“The important thing is to what degree we can increase a vehicle’s overall energy efficiency, in other words how much less energy a vehicle needs to run. This is exactly the technology that Toyota has been refining for more than 30 years,” he said. “Putting our best efforts into all aspects of these, with this vehicle, we are aiming for a power consumption of 125 watt-hours per kilometer, which would be the highest in the compact SUV class.”

Toyota is hoping to deliver serval modestly sized EVs offering enviable efficiency soon and would like to surpass its previous goal of launching 15 new BEVs by 2025. But it’s also trying to determine how it can adapt existing models to use battery power (presumably via hybridization). From the sound of things, this will be a relatively slow process for the Toyota brand — especially on the North American market — whereas Lexus will be seeing more sweeping changes to cater to higher-earners that tend to buy EVs in greater numbers.

Considering that EV sales still constitute roughly two percent of new vehicle sales annually, this remains a significant risk for Toyota. But it’s a calculated one (with the automaker seeking roughly a third of its total sales volume being electrified by 2030) and something it has been working on behind the scenes for years. While the company is notorious for playing it safe in order to maximize reliability, its R&D department is well funded and doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

It’s been working on all the same technologies its rivals have and has teased out electric concepts that range from pint-sized sports cars to a full-size pickup. Toyota has even expressed a willingness to share its existing battery tech with other manufacturers while it decides how to make use of it and plans on shelling out $1.29 billion to build a battery plant in the United States.

But it would be a lie to suggest Toyota isn’t a little behind the curve in terms of making formal commitments. While your author would argue manufacturer promises are often overblown with little hope of being met within the specified timeframe, Toyota has not attempted to hide the fact that it’s somewhat hesitant to go all-in on EVs. The business decided against joining a handful of automakers (including GM and Ford) to promise to phase out internal-combustion vehicles by 2040. It has similarly positioned itself against the Biden administration’s proposed updates to the EV tax credit scheme (along with Tesla and Honda). However, its chief concern is how the funding would be allocated to give more money to businesses using unionized labor.

Having spoken to more than a few Toyota engineers, the brunt of the businesses’ electrification concerns seem to revolve around a generalized anxiety that the company’s products will lose their greatest strength (above-average reliability) if it rushes into new technologies prematurely. Though I cannot pretend to know what’s actually happening at board meetings or what might be hiding in (or absent from) the Toyota skunkworks garage. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long to find out. With the bZ4X having already been shown off, and more bz models supposedly right around the corner, it sounds as though Toyota has plenty more in store for us.

Of course, the bZ4X was jointly developed with Subaru…

 

[Images: Toyota]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by subscribing to our newsletter.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

55 Comments on “Toyota Announces EV Strategy, Readies $70 Billion for the Cause...”


  • avatar
    indi500fan

    There are going to be a LOT of hard to sell electric cars that are gonna need bigtime gravy from the mfgrs and govt to move. Conversely the desirable gassers are going to bring premium prices.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The same predictions were made when the incentives expired on Tesla, and they still can’t build cars fast enough.

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        “The same predictions were made when the incentives expired on Tesla, and they still can’t build cars fast enough.”

        Tesla’s a cult, and the cultists are jumping over each other to drink the Kool-Aid.

        Toyota will make calm, fully thought out, mainstream vehicles for mainstream buyers–in other words, will remain a regular carmaker.

        two ENTIRELY different things.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          At a million plus in sales, it’s not a cult. Maybe people don’t like the torque-lag you get with ICE and like having the ability to fuel at home? Plus all of the maintenance headaches like oil changes and brakes that last less than 100,000 miles. Not to mention exhaust systems that don’t last.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Apple is as such, the difference between it and a cult is only a percentage are true fanatics. As Tesla grows the same will occur.

        • 0 avatar

          You could say the same thing about Apple vs Nokia. And where is Nokia? Nokia was a Toyota of cell phones.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          A million people a year are joining a cult?

        • 0 avatar
          goacom

          Apparently, there are Tesla cult followers all over the world, not just America. Even the Germans have been converted as Tesla 3 has overtaken Mercedes, BMW and Audi in this market segment. In America, Tesla’s cult follower count keeps being added at a rate of 100K a month. LOL.

        • 0 avatar
          goacom

          Apparently, there are Tesla cult followers all over the world, not just America. Even the Germans have been converted as Tesla 3 has overtaken Mercedes, BMW and Audi in this market segment. In America, Tesla’s cult follower count keeps being added at a rate of 100K a month. LOL.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    $1.29 billion is a fraction of the $5 billion Tesla spent on its Nevada Gigafactory, and that joint venture with Stellantis is still just for lithium ion tech.

    Their efficiency target is about 5 miles/kWh. That’s about what my compact EV gets in the summertime in ideal conditions – a great number – but it won’t apply to every vehicle in all conditions. Even a Model 3 is only rated at 4.2 miles/kWh, so Toyota will have to out-do Tesla’s efficiency to reach their goal – which nobody else has done yet.

    Toyota is still fooling around with hydrogen, and still wants others to pay for the infrastructure. I think they are ashamed to walk away from hydrogen, just as Mazda can’t walk away from the rotary and Subaru can’t do anything but boxer engines.

    So yes, I’m skeptical. By 2030 Tesla will have been producing EVs for 22 years. Toyota may be competitive, but they won’t be a leader.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @SCE: While I haven’t run any numbers, the 5 mile/kWh should be doable with the 380 Wh/kg densities coming with the next-gen batteries.

      Toyota’s big risk is being able to mass-produce its solid-state battery. If they can’t figure that out, they are in big, big trouble.

    • 0 avatar

      “they are ashamed to walk away from hydrogen, just as Mazda can’t walk away from the rotary and Subaru can’t do anything but boxer engines.”

      You are right they are trying to save face. That was Japanese do and that is their weakness that Americans do not have. Charging infrastructure is much easier to deploy than hydrogen infrastructure. That makes fuel cells no go in most of countries. In Japan or Monaco it may be done probably but not in big countries.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        “Charging infrastructure is much easier to deploy than hydrogen infrastructure.”

        Nominally deploy, on paper, is one thing. Reliably maintain, something different altogether.

        Ask a Lebanese…. Or, for that matter, a Californian… Those who need uptime, store diesel (or at least gas) and a few generators.

        Most of the world, may never have near 100% reliable electricity grids of the kind Northern/Western Europe still have, and that the US had during its heyday. Complete dependence on always-on, is rarely a wining formula wrt reliability. Buffered packet switching topologies are almost always preferred to unbuffered, or for that matter circuit switched, ones as far as reliability is concerned. And buffering diesel, and kinda-maybe-sometime-with-an-awful-lot-of-Toyta-grade-engineering-and-effort-if-we’re-lucky-with-a-little-bit-of-faith-just-maybe H2, is a lot easier than ditto electrons.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          @stuki:

          Hydrogen is stored cryogenically at 10,000 psi. That’s for NASA to deal with.

          We’ve have electric power distribution in the US for over a century – it’s not hard to do.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            Toyota (and others), not me, insist H2 storage is just an engineering problem…. And they have at least some credibility. Which is severely lacking among BEV hucksters.

            Occasionally-on, even more-often-than-not-on electricity is fairly easy to do. Beirut used to have that as well. Lebanon is a poorer country now than then. As is, although to an as of yet lesser degree, the US….

            But outside of perhaps Scandinavia, those who absolutely need their power to be on, have generators and diesel as backup. Just to be sure.

            You can be pretty certain that cutting a cable leading to some White House charging point, won’t leave Biden stranded in front of an onrushing Red Army…. After all, some people are more equal than others…

  • avatar
    mor2bz

    Late to the party but I bet they don’t go home alone.

  • avatar
    Fred

    What ever happened to the range extender engine idea? Once a year at least I go on a 500 to 1000 mile road trip, and I need to put in a solid 500 miles without spending a lot of time charging up.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      with the solid-state battery they are working on getting into mass production, they might be able to get beyond 500 miles range plus charge times should come down.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Range extenders seem to be a redundant answer to the problem, which has already been solved by hybrids, or even plug-in hybrids.

      BMW’s range extender in the i3 ReX turned out to be dangerous when drivers learned its 650 cc engine didn’t provide the same power as the battery, just as they were passing a truck on a mountain.

      The Volt was effectively a range extender that worked well, but it became obsolete by modern EVs.

      Mazda keeps promising a rotary range extender in an EV, but I don’t believe we’ll ever see that unicorn.

      For the specific need you mentioned, I think it would be more economical to have a 50-week EV for daily driving, then rent a nice car for the long road trip. However, the new 800-volt architecture that is coming out permits pretty fast charging – the new Hyundai Ioniq claims to be able to go from 10 – 80% in 18 minutes.

      • 0 avatar
        Peter Gazis

        SCE to Aux

        The Volt had a 1.5L gasoline engine and 2 electric motors.
        No range extender.
        When in ICE mode, the larger electric motor would turn into a generator and recharge the batteries. Ensuring the smaller Electric motor would always be able to provide a power boost for passing, merging, red light races or getting up to highway speeds.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          GM officially marketed the Volt as a Range Extended EV and was originally going to configure it so that the ICE could not directly power the vehicle. Of course they found out it was more efficient for the ICE to provide direct mechanical propulsion and that is the way it works.

          The big difference between the Range Extended Volt and a traditional PHEV is that the Volt had full capability in EV mode while PHEVs will fire up the engine to meet higher power demands.

          The BMW is a case of poor programing and poor education of the consumer. It just needs to go into RE mode well before the battery is depleted.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          The Volt was a serial hybrid, which meant it was an EV until the ICE turned on after the battery was exhausted. That’s pretty much a range extender.

          People would brag about getting “1000 mpg” because they’d drive for a month without the ICE turning on. But after 50 miles or so of continuous use and no plug-in, the ICE had to kick on. That’s a range extender.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    “The important thing is to what degree we can increase a vehicle’s overall energy efficiency, in other words how much less energy a vehicle needs to run. This is exactly the technology that Toyota has been refining for more than 30 years,” he said.

    –> Except trucks.

  • avatar
    JD-Shifty

    If anyone can make an electric vehicle that people will want it will be Toyota or Honda

  • avatar

    It did not take long for Toyota to equal GM in EV’s. Toyota will most likely produce reliable and safe EV’s, which probably won’t catch on fire.

    GM – what a disgrace!

  • avatar

    I am thinking may be Toyota will go bankrupt after 2030? They lost edge and lack focus. They have to decide now what path to choose.

  • avatar
    MitchConner

    All this battery nonsense is stupid. All these major bets made individually just to shut the climate Chicken Littles up. Remember when hybrids were going to take over the world? Where are they now? Just wait when used Teslas will need new batteries. Or when old batteries need to be recycled.

    Of course the battery fanboys all have fantastical pie in the sky answers to every issue. None based in reality, of course. Battery prices will come down so replacements won’t be an issue. Yeah, right. Cold comfort to someone who has a Leaf that might as well operate with pedals given its range right now. Used batteries can be recycled. Really? By kids with soldering irons in a Jakarta landfill like PCs are now? What about the environment? Those strip mines can be turned into parks where unicorns, Bigfoot, and Al Gore all can mate with each other as they roll around in their own organic flop. Then again, Tesla has sold a million cars, right? In how many years? While earning what kind of market share? Give me a break.

    If I ran an auto manufacturer I’d partner with a couple other companies or someone like Magna, build a standardized skateboard, then fit a few different body styles to it. Blowing $70B on various powertrain bets on your own? Sounds so goofy you’d think the State of California was doing it.

    Back in the early 90s when all the PC manufacturers were blowing a fortune on primary hardware to differentiate themselves, Michael Dell went out and bought a bunch of off the shelf stuff, bolted it together on an order by order basis — and cleaned everybody’s clock. No billions spent on R&D, blah, blah, blah.

    Same can happen with EVs.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Huffing exhaust to own the libs.

      “Battery prices will come down so replacements won’t be an issue. Yeah, right.”

      The same battery prices that have already come down by a factor of six since Tesla started producing cars? Yeah, they’ll come down further.

      “Used batteries can be recycled. Really?”

      Yes, really. The non-PCB parts of a battery are a lot easier to recycle than the PCBs that make up the guts of a PC.

      “Then again, Tesla has sold a million cars, right? In how many years? While earning what kind of market share?”

      Tesla’s on track to sell close to a million cars in 2021 alone. Their stock valuation is what it is mostly because people feel they are better positioned than other automakers to respond to coming EV mandates in the two biggest car markets in the world (China and Europe).

      “If I ran an auto manufacturer I’d partner with a couple other companies or someone like Magna, build a standardized skateboard, then fit a few different body styles to it.”

      That sounds pretty much exactly like what everyone from GM to Hyundai to Rivian is trying to do. The challenge isn’t designing components, it’s building batteries and sourcing the materials for them. That’s what the money is really being spent on.

    • 0 avatar
      CKNSLS Sierra SLT

      MitchConner-

      It’s like this. The electric horse has left the barn. Whether you or anybody else likes it they are coming. And whatever objection you can think of (range, charging infrastructure, batteries etc.) they will be over come-because BEV is what the government wants. Your only choice is to fight the Federal Government if you have conviction in your objections.

      BTW-in some parts of the country there is a 12 month wait for the Toyota RAV 4 Prime….so yea

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “The electric horse has left the barn.”

        Fortunately it won’t get very far without an extension cord.

        “Whether you or anybody else likes it they are coming.”

        Tyranny is coming.

        “BTW-in some parts of the country there is a 12 month wait for the Toyota RAV 4 Prime….so yea”

        I believe it, but Bolt, Leaf, whatever Hyundai is selling – not so much.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Tesla has poor quality whereas Toyota has good quality. Tesla is the leader in EV production but their vehicles are high priced (not affordable to most). If anyone can make a quality and affordable EV it would be Toyota and if their solid state batteries can be produced at lower cost and in mass Toyota could eventually become a leader in EVs. Toyota has the reputation for being boring and appliance like but affordability and reliability are what most buyers are looking for. I would buy a Toyota EV over a Tesla strictly because Toyota takes the time and effort to make their vehicles reliable.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @Jeff S: Good summary. That’s probably the reason Toyota seems to be late in entering the market. Looking at the patent filings, they’ve been working on a BEV for quite a while. I think for quality reasons, they wanted to go directly to a solid-state battery if they could. I totally respect Toyota’s approach, although the smokescreen they were putting up to delay or stall the EV market was kind of slimy.

      Tesla’s build quality definitely needs to improve, but I think the drive train and battery tech is pretty good. I think the manufacturing technology in the new plants combined with less pressure on Fremont should bring build quality up, but we’ll have to see.

      Tesla’s can be reliable though. More and more stories are coming out about their cars breaking the 400k mile mark.

      https://insideevs.com/news/554187/424000-mile-tesla-models-review/

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        mcs – there is a difference between durability and reliability.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          “mcs – there is a difference between durability and reliability.”

          Reliability and durability are separate but related. You do need durability for reliability. Teslas and EVs in general are more reliable than gassers and with the improved battery tech we have now, they are more durable than an ICE, especially an LFPO4 EV.

  • avatar

    give me an EV that charges in sunlight, has 500 mile range, and a battery I can exchange under warranty the first 100,000 miles, and I’ll take it under advisement.

    Buickman
    Founder
    GeneralWatch.com
    DollingerDiffrence.com

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Color me skeptical about solid state batteries. Companies have been chasing the technology since the early 1990s.

    EVs will be a practical replacement for ICE when they can do this, in this order:
    1. Cold soak for 10 hours, unplugged at -20°F.
    2. Travel 400 miles at 80 MPH on the highway, at 10°F ambient with cabin heat set to 72°F.
    3. Recharge 10% to 90% in five minutes at 10°F ambient.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    All this electric-everything talk is nice, but in the world we live in, the USA doesn’t have the infrastructure to support it – let alone the rest of the world.

    Nothing would be finer for me to take all my long trips by train, but that’ll never happen in this country either.

    Of man is ruining the earth now, how much worse will it be mining all the “rare earth” metals like lithium, to make and supply all the battery tech to even be possible?

    Nice on paper, but in the real world? Time will tell.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “All this electric-everything talk is nice, but in the world we live in, the USA doesn’t have the infrastructure to support it – let alone the rest of the world.”

      – spoken in 1900

      Infrastructure grows with the need.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “Infrastructure grows with the need.”

        Uh, the US has needed new infrastructure for 50 years.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          Total US electricity generation, in billions of kWh:

          1950 = 335
          1960 = 760
          1970 = 1535
          1980 = 2290
          1990 = 3038
          2000 = 3801
          2010 = 4125
          2020 = 4009

          The last decade has seen a leveling off (probably due to political regulation), but overall power generation has grown faster than the US population.

          https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/electricity/electricity-in-the-us-generation-capacity-and-sales.php

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I was referring to roads infrastructure said EVs would need to use, but lets look at the numbers in terms of growth in percentage DoD.

            1950 = Baseline (335 Bil of kWh)
            1960 = +115%
            1970 = +102%
            1980 = +49%
            1990 = +33%
            2000 = +25%
            2010 = +8.5%
            2020 = -2.81%

            Seems peak Bil of kWh was 2000, which is right around the time so many new electronic devices were starting to come online. Since that will only continue, and now they want to bring plug in only EVs into the mix en masse… just a tad bearish on the reality of this.

            In fact I see the need for controls normally only seen in totalitarian nations since I’m aware of only one new nuclear project (Vogtle) and the only other new power sources have been natural gas plants while simultaneously a number of nuclear plants will be going offline this decade. I suppose the decade is still young so this could improve but EV seems like a pipe dream as it always was, less of course the plan is to remove a lot of current demand. Hmmmm.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Seventy billion?

    I think Toyota should have bought Tesla before its’ market cap went Looney Tunes. Let Tesla develop the battery tech and Toyota develop the actual cars. Marriage made in heaven.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Toyota had the RAV4 EV with a Tesla drivetrain a while back,then let it die.

      Until very recently, Toyota has been telling everyone how stupid EVs are. They never had any interest in Tesla, and Mr Musk would never have let Tesla be ruled by Toyota.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Can’t think why so many think Toyota is run by stupid people. Probably got strategists brighter than anyone opining here. When you go over what Toyoda said, instead of cherry-picking for clicks, he pointed out the EVs are for the Western developed world. He expected 35% of Toyota’s global output would be BEV by 2030. That leaves about 6 or 7 million vehicles a year to be gas, hybrid, PHEV and hydrogen. The West isn’t the world. When asked by a somnabulent
    “reporter” why all Toyotas wouldn’t be BEVS by 2030, this is what Daily Kanban writes:

    “Akio Toyota answered by pointing out that the global car market and its energy situation are diverse. Toyota doesn’t want to “inconvenience” its customers by forcing them into cars that don’t fit into their lives, Toyoda said, and he will offer diverse solutions to that diverse market. He made clear that the goal is 100% carbon neutrality, and not necessarily 100% battery.” 

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @mcs–I believe that increase competition in the EV market will force Tesla into making better quality vehicles at a more competitive price. More charging infrastructure and expanding the power grid is needed along with more affordable prices to get more wide acceptance of EVs. I am building a new condo in Arizona and I requested 220 be put in my garage along with a tankless water heater even though it will be a long long time before I buy a new vehicle especially since my hybrid Maverick will be delivered this March. Even if I don’t buy an EV the 220 will make my condo worth more but I will be buying an electric golf cart. I keep most of my vehicles over 10 years and currently have a 2012 E-Assist Buick Lacrosse with 47k miles and a 2013 Honda CRV AWD with 26k so I am in no big hurry to buy another vehicle especially with the new Maverick being delivered in March. I will be 70 in February so I will not be buying a lot more new vehicles but I could later on so I am keeping the option of buying an EV open for the future. I will most likely drive the hybrid Maverick more being that I tend to drive my trucks more and the 42 mpgs urban driving. With the pandemic I am lucky if I put 5k miles a year on a vehicle.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • ravenuer: Ugh, just ugh!
  • ajla: “the 400 cubic-inch barrier: 400 (6.6L) for the Pontiac, or 403 (still 6.6L) with the Olds.the 400...
  • Luke42: I’ve loved every EV I’ve ever driven. The NVH and torque are fantastic! I’ve been waiting 5...
  • 285exp: @Lou, people of the left have recently embraced the right of private companies to allow or disallow whatever...
  • ajla: This was my source. I believe it is just “personal computer” ownership in general....

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber