Toyota to triple EV production as competition with BYD, Tesla heats up

Jet Sanchez
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Toyota's planned electrified lineup, unveiled late 2021.

Toyota's planned electrified lineup, unveiled late 2021.

In a surprising move, Toyota, known for its pioneering work in hybrid technology, has announced plans to triple its electric vehicle (EV) production by the end of 2025. This ambitious decision comes as the Japanese automaker faces increased competition from industry leaders like BYD and Tesla in the rapidly evolving EV market.

The company's previous stance had emphasised the development of hybrid technologies, but in April of this year, new CEO Koji Sato outlined a bold strategy to shift towards electric mobility. 

Toyota's new target

Toyota and its luxury brand, Lexus, set an ambitious target of producing 1.5 million battery electric units annually by 2026, with a further increase to 3.5 million by the end of 2030. To put this in perspective, the automaker only sold a modest 24,000 EVs last year.

But according to a recent report from Nikkei Asia, Toyota is now accelerating its EV production plans. The company aims to produce 600,000 electric vehicles by the close of 2025, signalling a drastic shift in gears. Toyota and Lexus have already communicated these expansion plans to their suppliers.

In 2022, Toyota sold just 24,000 EVs. However, in 2023, the automaker expects to manufacture 150,000 electric vehicles, with projections rising to 190,000 units in 2024. Despite this significant growth, EVs will still represent a relatively small portion of Toyota's overall sales. With a target of producing 11 million vehicles in 2025, EVs are expected to account for only 5 to 6 per cent of the total production.

New leadership, new strategy

Electric Toyota Hilux

Former CEO and current Chairman Akio Toyoda, known for his advocacy of diversifying energy approaches, faced criticism for prioritising hybrid technology over EVs. However, under the leadership of CEO Koji Sato, the company has embraced an accelerated EV plan while maintaining a "multiple pathway" approach to cater to diverse customer needs, promoting options like hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), EVs, and hydrogen.

Toyota's current electrified vehicle lineup includes 16 models, comprising 12 HEVs, two plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), the all-electric bZ4X (coming to NZ in 2024), and the Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. Toyota New Zealand has also announced plans to introduce a hybridised Hilux ute to the local market early next year.

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