Toyota, the world’s largest car seller, recently unveiled a series of fully electric vehicles as part of its strategy to reconnect with its customer base in China. However, the company’s slow progress in the electric vehicle market has been widely criticized. With the appointment of Koji Sato as CEO, many are hopeful that Toyota’s mindset towards electric vehicles will change.
Sato, who took over as CEO from Akio Toyoda in January, has promised to accelerate the development of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) with a new approach. Toyoda, who was one of the most prominent critics of going all-in on EVs, stepped down as CEO earlier this year. Sato, who previously served as the chief branding officer for Lexus, has stated that Toyota will increase its efforts to develop fully electric vehicles, with a new business structure and strategy in place.
Despite Toyota’s strong reputation for producing reliable and high-quality cars, the company has lagged behind its competitors in the electric vehicle market. With increasing pressure to reduce emissions and meet regulatory requirements, it’s clear that Toyota needs to take action to keep up with the competition. Sato’s commitment to accelerating BEV development is a positive sign for Toyota’s future in the electric vehicle market.
This represents a significant shift in the company’s approach to EVs, as it has been lagging behind other automakers in the EV space. However, the Japanese automaker faces several challenges in implementing its new strategy, including the fact that it has struggled with its electric vehicle rollout thus far and has been losing market share in key regions.
For example, in China, which is currently the fastest-growing EV market in the world, Toyota has only sold 3,844 units through January, representing a dismal 0.25% of overall sales. This is a far cry from the leading EV companies in China, such as Tesla, and local players like BYD and NIO, which have been rapidly gaining market share in recent years.
To address these challenges and catch up with its competitors, Toyota will need to make significant investments in EV technology and infrastructure, as well as develop a strong brand identity for its electric vehicles. The company has already taken steps in this direction, such as forming partnerships with battery manufacturers and investing in new battery technologies, but it remains to be seen if these efforts will be enough to help it gain a foothold in the competitive EV market.
Earlier this year, Toyota reduced prices of its first-ever electric vehicle, the bZ4X, by up to 15% in China to stay competitive with other market leaders like Tesla and BYD who had already cut prices in the region. Toyota’s move prompted several EV manufacturers to follow suit.
However, the automaker has recently witnessed a positive response in China. In October, it launched its first electric sedan, the bZ3, co-developed with BYD, which garnered over 5,000 orders on its first sales day. Toyota announced plans to expand its lineup with two new fully electric models earlier this week. Toyota’s new CEO, Koji Sato, has stated that the company must take urgent action to stay competitive in China’s rapidly evolving EV market. In an interview with the media in Tokyo, Sato acknowledged that the automaker must increase its speed and efforts to meet customer expectations in China. He also stated that China is becoming an advanced market for EVs, following the impact of the Shanghai Auto Show. Although Toyota is currently producing a small number of EVs compared to other automakers in China, Sato said that the company would take a phased approach, starting with improving battery electric vehicle technology and then ramping up production. To this end, Toyota unveiled plans for two new fully electric models in China: an electric sport crossover called the bZ Sport Crossover aimed at younger and Gen Z buyers, and the bZ FlexSpace concept, designed for families with a focus on utility and ease of use.