Toyota has been more than a little reluctant to join the electric vehicle (EV) revolution, deciding instead to invest in hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell technology on the belief that they need to offer their customers a wide variety of powertrain options.
Even so, the automaker announced last year an investment of $60 billion by 2030 to electrify some its cars. One year later and Toyota is reportedly considering changing up their EV strategy to better compete with Tesla.
Toyota Executive says 2030 50% EV goal in the US is a longshot due to low demand
According to a report by Reuters, Toyota has formed a working group to come up with ways to improve their EV strategy. The group reportedly has a deadline of early next year to decide whether to improve its existing EV platform known as e-TNGA, or suggest an entirely new EV architecture, four sources with knowledge of the discussions told Reuters.
While the work is underway, the source said Toyota has suspended work on some of their 30 EV projects announced last year.
When reached for comment, Toyota didn’t deny the report, instead saying that they are committed to carbon neutrality, echoing sentiments they made last year.
“In order to achieve carbon neutrality, Toyota’s own technology – as well as the work we are doing with a range of partners and suppliers – is essential,” a Toyota spokesperson said.
According to the same sources, Toyota is considering this shift largely because of Tesla “winning the factory cost wars on EVs.” The Japanese automaker had assumed that EV adoption would not increase at the rate it has, thinking it would instead take several decades to reach mainstream adoption.
“What’s driving Mr Terashi’s [former chief competitive officer] effort is the EV’s faster-than-anticipated takeoff and rapid-fire adoptions of cutting-edge innovations by Tesla and others,” one source told Reuters.
Toyota is also working with its suppliers to try and bring down production costs, considering adding a Tesla-like Giga Press to their manufacturing process to reduce costs.
Likely also pushing their need for change is Toyota’s first attempt at a mass produced EV on their e-TNGA platform. The Toyota bZ4X has stumbled out of the starting blocks, with the automaker recalling all of them due to an issue where the wheels could literally fall off the EV.
The problem took several months to correct, with Toyota only announcing a fix and the restart of production earlier this month. During the recall the company even offered to buy back affected vehicles from customers.