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Is Toyota Ready To Take On Tesla For Electric Vehicle Lead? ‘I Don’t Know If Love Can Beat Tesla’

Some have begun to work with Tesla and become more aligned on global electric vehicle growth ambitions.

Automotive company Toyota Motor Corp (NYSE: TM) has been a leader in overall global automotive production for years. When it comes to electric vehicles, the company has lagged behind other rivals, something the company would like to fix.

A Toyota Corolla Altis is displayed during Thailand Fast Auto Show & EV Expo on July 5, 2023. (VALERIA MONGELLI/ANADOLU AGENCY/ GETTY IMAGES) 

The new president of its new electric vehicle division shares plans for the future.

For the month of June 2023, Toyota had 51,535 electric vehicles sold in the U.S., which was an increase of 28.8% year-over-year. Electric vehicles represented 26.4% of the vehicles sold in the month of June.

The growth of electric vehicles also outpaced that of passenger car sales and truck sales, which were up 8.9% and 17.8%, respectively, on a year-over-year basis.

The company reported 195,448 vehicles sold in the U.S. in June, which was up 14.9% year-over-year.

After years of hesitancy to grow its electric vehicle operations, changes may be coming for the company.

While speaking at the company’s share meeting in Tokyo, Japan, the head of the company’s new electric vehicle unit, BEV Factory, shared more on the future.

The unit’s president Takero Kato said the goal is to get battery-powered electric vehicles to have the same range as Toyota’s existing hybrid vehicles.

Toyota plans to sell 3.5 million battery-powered electric vehicles in 2030, as reported by InsideEVs. To get to this goal, the company is investing more in battery plants and will begin producing battery-powered electric vehicles in the U.S. in 2025.

“I love BEVs. Through BEVs, I want to change the future of cars, monozukuri, and work,” Kato said. Monozukuri is a Japanese term related to manufacturing.

“We will aim for the same cruising range as the hybrid vehicles that have been so popular.”

Kato called this a “big task” and said it’s important to have consumers of the battery-powered electric vehicles get the same unique character of existing Toyota vehicles.

Speaking to manufacturing and production, Kato spoke on some changes that Toyota could make.

“We want to change our vehicle structure and halve the length of our production lines, and reduce or eliminate physically strenuous work.”

Kato said that when it comes to the current battery electric vehicle sector, “speed is key.”

“Working with new partners will enable all of us to come up with new, richer ideas.”

Akio Toyoda, former Toyota CEO and current chairman, is known for his hesitancy towards battery-powered electric vehicles. Speaking at the same event on Kato’s optimism, Toyota shared his take.

Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corp. speaks at the Tokyo Auto Salon at Makuhari Messe on January 13, 2023 in Chiba, Japan. (JUN SATO/WIREIMAGE) 

“I don’t know if love can beat Tesla. However, cars made by engineers who love them will move people’s hearts. We hope you’ll look forward to the BEVs that we create,” Toyoda said.

This goal could mean seeing battery-powered electric vehicles hitting a range of 900 miles in the future, which is ambitious to say the least.

The comments from Kato come as Toyota also shared details on its solid-state batteries, which could be a catalyst for more miles per charge in the future.

News on Toyota’s plan for electric vehicle growth also came as industry peers and rivals such as General Motors Co (NYSE: GM) and Ford Motor Co (NYSE: F) partnered with Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) on electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

With many competing to take on market leader Tesla, some have begun to work with the company and become more aligned on global electric vehicle growth ambitions.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra called Tesla CEO Elon Musk both a partner and competitor in a recent interview. Barra said adapting to Tesla’s charger will be better for consumers.

“Of course we’re going to compete, but I think in a lot of spaces now, in many industries, you compete, and your partner,” Barra said.

Under the leadership of a new CEO and the BEV Factory segment, Toyota appears ready to be more aggressive with its electric vehicle ambitions. This move comes as other leaders like Ford and General Motors have a head start on Toyota.

Price Action: Toyota shares have trailed most of their peers on a year-to-date, one-year and five-year performance. Here’s a look:

Toyota: YTD +17.0%, 1-Year +4.6%, 5-Year +25.4%

Tesla: YTD +159.4%, 1-Year +20.3%, 5-Year +1,260.7%

Ford: YTD +37.9%, 1-Year +43.8%, 5-Year +43.8%

General Motors: YTD +16.1%, 1-Year +21.3%, 5-Year -0.5%

Stellantis NV (NYSE: STLA): YTD +20.3%, 1-Year +50.0%, 5-Year +19.7% (Stellantis is the manufacturer of 14 car brands, including Chrysler.)



Produced in association with Benzinga

Edited by Kyana Jeanin Rubinfeld and Jessi Rexroad Shull

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