Akio Toyoda said last week he would like his legacy to be "I love cars." But how he will be remembered for all-electric vehicles is still being determined.
15 purely EV models by 2025 is not bad?
Its a good article, and echoes the speeches and public statement Toyoda has been making for the last 2 years.
Of course, all large corporations do PR, and that PR is more about making shareholders happy than about the truth. The other car makers also promised XX new BEV models by some year, and none of them met their targets.
Also, makers like GM were fielding EVs for many years, and making profound statements about their investments in EV and hope and change, and then delivered tiny volumes of these vehicles, with power trains built entirely by a Korean sub-contractor. The other legacy makers were being even MORE disingenuous, and selling even tinier volumes of hastily designed conversion cars. Or tiny volumes of luxury EVs at eye-watering prices.
And then when Trump got elected in 2016 ALL OF THEM signed a letter asking for weaker CAFE standards and saying the EVs wouldn't work or weren't ready for prime time.
So ALL of the legacy makers were singing the exact same tune as Toyoda is until a few years ago. Toyoda's companies (he represents the trade group of all the Japanese makers) are just a few years behind the other legacy makers, like 3 or 4. Just like how those legacy makers are still about 3-4 years behind Tesla, in terms of production scale.
Being an early adopter in tech can get you killed, if you enter before the customer value proposition is there....
Did the non-Japanese legacy makers enter too late (as the Tesla fans assert), all doomed to bankruptcy as Tesla (and maybe other startups) take over? I very much DOUBT that.
Will the US legacy makers be able to scale EV production over the next 3-5 years to meet exponentially growing demand in the US and EU? I bet they CAN, and will compete with Tesla with (most) folks that like a more traditional car/model and like/trust an existing US brand.
China looks like a death match right now between BYD, Tesla and a bunch of chinese BYD startup clones.
Toyoda is betting that the value proposition for the customer (due, e.g. a higher than expected cost of batteries say 3-5 years from now) will not be there to allow for high demand. In this case the US/EU makers scale their products, and don't turn a profit or enough profit on them, while Toyota continues to make a healthy profit on ICE models. In this scenario, Toyota then enters the market later when BEVs DO become favorable. Its not clear how or when that would happen, but Toyoda likes to talk about solid state batteries, like a technological 'deus ex machina' that puts/keeps them on top of a BEV world. 5-10 years from now.
I'm skeptical. Costs (like with batteries) are reduced by learning curves. By building LOTS of batteries. True, some OTHER battery chemistry might magically appear that then eats conventional lithiums lunch, and all that learning and production infrastructure becomes obsolete, and then Toyota swoops in, laughing, with a Japanese govt bankroll to boot!
But honestly, that seems like wishful thinking to me. There is a lot to this EV transition OTHER than battery cells. Winning over customers, building infrastructure, working out the kinks of building electric drivetrains cheaply, restocking spare parts networks and repair techs, etc. If a new cell chemistry appears, it seems more likely that it will emerge by a series of steps at the existing BEV makers (Tesla or a legacy maker) and be quickly reverse engineered by the others, with a little retooling. Which is what is happening now.
Toyoda is betting the farm. We will see in a few years if he was right.