Toyota Makes Big Claims About EV Development Scheme

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

toyota makes big claims about ev development scheme

While Toyota Motor Corp is known for casting a wide net and acting cautiously, it recently made some fairly lofty statements about its strategy regarding all-electric vehicles. Despite the brand offering the humble bZ4X as its singular EV on the North American market, Toyota is suggesting subsequent models driving ranges that model would envy. 

The single-motor version of the bZ4X (pictured) is theoretically capable of 250 miles between recharges. Meanwhile, the all-wheel drive version is lucky to surpass 200 miles under anything the most idyllic conditions. However, Toyota recently published a video where BEV Factory President Takero Kato stated that the company was currently developing technologies that would yield EVs capable of doing over 600 miles before needing a break. 

The presentation itself was rather humble. But the brand isn’t known for jaw-dropping announcements or even focusing on electrification. It wasn’t all that long ago when Toyota was still acting skeptical about all-electric automobiles. One could even argue that it still seems to be of two minds about the likelihood of BEVs becoming the dominant mode of transport across the entire planet. 

Still, it’s been making formal commitments of late and jumping on some of the obligatory trends that are sweeping through the industry — most of which were noted in the presentation. 

Toyota’s overarching plan for EVs involves tapping artificial intelligence to help design more streamlined shapes offering improved aerodynamics and better efficiency. When paired with next-generation, lithium-ion batteries, the brand believes it should be able to offer competitive ranges. But the firm has also been talking about developing solid-state batteries for years. Once they’ve arrived, it’s possible that we’ll see ranges more than double what’s normal today and significantly reduced charging times. 

Kato suggested that the brand’s upcoming batteries would be capable of ranges around 1,000 km (or about 620 miles) on a single charge. However, the aspect that’ll undoubtedly be making the brand the most bank is the widespread implementation of over-the-air (OTA) updates. This is the feature the industry most wants to implement, as it’s broadly seen as a way to normalize subscription-based services.

In exchange for the new revenue streams, automakers plan on offering loads of customization and partnered programs allowing other brands to market additional features to vehicle owners. But some are already leveraging OTA updates to lock existing hardware (already equipped to the vehicle) behind paywalls. The scheme runs the risk of being exceedingly greedy and may find the public has little tolerance for being bled to death during an era of economic distress. 

The executive hinted that the technology could be used to help deliver a “manual EV” that would deliver enhanced driving enjoyment. But little was clarified about the would-be product. Our guess is that Toyota has considered fielding an electric car with the ability for drivers to option a simulated shifting experience via OTA updates. Though we’re just guessing and going off an earlier patent where the company presented a software-based manual transmission for electric motors. 

The automaker is also considering how to streamline production using modular EV designs. This is another item that’s becoming relatively common across the industry. One of the major benefits of battery-powered vehicles is that final assembly is comparatively simple (requiring fewer employees) and the brand says it plans to have its next batch of EVs be manufactured using three major components. 

Front and rear vehicle sections will house electric motors and sandwich structurally relevant battery packs that can be swapped out easily as the technology advances. Toyota said it would use “giga casting” which is likely akin to Tesla’s “Giga Press” which allows for exceptionally large die-cast aluminum pieces. Kato said the company expects the process to significantly reduce costs for vehicle development and plant investment over time. 

The other component of Toyota’s electrification plan involves the implementation of widespread factory automation, with Kato briefly discussing the matter as if it’s the same as self-driving technology. Everything else was going to come down to collaborative partnerships and how labor would be organized (often in tandem with artificial intelligence) to produce the maximum amount of synergy. 

Toyota is anticipating 1.5 million annual BEV sales starting in 2026. By 2030, that target is expected to jump to 1.7 million units. The company also recently announced plans to invest almost $50 million to establish a battery lab at its North American R&D facility located in Michigan.

While a lot of the above is not unique, since most legacy manufacturers are vying to accomplish something similar, seeing Toyota enter the fray does suggest that battery electric vehicles are here to stay. Regulatory efforts are certainly driving the issue to a point the industry cannot ignore. But automakers, even the holdouts, are making sweeping plans to ensure their all-electric divisions are taken seriously.

That said, self-driving has fallen short of expectations and artificial intelligence seems like the new buzzword for all industries. Take everything any manufacturer says with a grain of salt until you've seen the finished product.

[Images: Toyota]

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7 of 54 comments
  • Jeff S Jeff S on Jun 14, 2023

    I posted early a response that was deleted for no reason about Tesla. It took Tesla over 17 years to be profitable and much of Tesla's profits came from selling carbon credits as much as 2 billion carbon credits in 2022. Stellantis itself has bought over 2.4 billion dollars worth of credits from Tesla from 2019 to 2021. Ford, GM, and Stellantis over the last few years have spend billions of dollars buying carbon credits. If GM, Ford, and Stellantis are spending billions of dollars on carbon credits and the price of these credits continues to rise then they are more likely to invest in EVs and to increase the fuel efficiency of their existing ICE vehicles in order to pay less carbon credits. This is not to diminish what accomplishments Tesla has made but if someone expects GM and Ford to immediately make a profit on EVs after spending large outlays of funds on retooling existing plants to make EVs, building battery plants, and the cost of designing and bringing to market a new EV then they don't really know much about how auto companies operate. It will take years to recover costs and the costs will be amortized over a period of time. Developing and selling a new product takes time and resources. Developing an EV from a company that makes only ICE vehicles is much different than just developing a new ICE product like the Mustang, Taurus, and Maverick there are much higher costs involved. Ford at least was being honest about their initial losses on EVs and it will take a number of years to make a profit but Ford itself is making money on their trucks. The same is true with GM as well. There is a difference between planning for the short term and planning for the long term and both Ford and GM are planning for the long term on EVs.

    • See 4 previous
    • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Jun 20, 2023

      Both will fail and then merge to prevent them from being acquired by a foreign company.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Jun 14, 2023

    Matt you should do an article on the cost of carbon credits for the major auto manufacturers. It would help the average reader understand why manufacturers like Ford and GM are gearing up to make EVs and why Stellantis is dropping the Hemi V-8. There are reasons well beyond altruistic motives and we all can argue Government regulations and politics but those have both been involved in the auto industry for over 70 years. The trend is more regulations and that is not just in the US but in Europe and globally. Auto companies have to deal with what is happening now and what the long term trends will be which tend to be toward more regulations in regards to safety, reducing emissions, and more efficiency in vehicles.

  • SCE to AUX "scheme" appears 5 times in this story. We get it.I don't understand the concern. Many, many EV credits have passed to dealers/mfrs in the decade since since Cash For Clunkers, and did so for leased EVs. I've leased two EVs, and the Federal subsidy went straight to the mfr - not me. The dealer took that figure off the sale price.You'd think the dealers (especially Nissan) had never seen this before - how ridiculous.Tell you what, dealers - advise your mfrs you'd rather not take the risk, and see how that goes.
  • Crtfour It's long before the first recall?
  • Oberkanone You get a workout driving an Opel GT compared to driving experience of today. No power steering, manual transmission, and just getting into and out of the car requires extreme physical flexibility. I favor the Saab Sonett III over the Opel GT. If I'm buying a tiny two seat 1972 odd car I'm going all in.
  • Lou_BC Ford's on strike. Using photos of Fords is like crossing a picket line. ;)
  • Lou_BC Not my problem. Buying anything on credit is a risk for buyer and seller.