Toyota is a huge automobile company and one expects this Japanese carmaker, which is generally at the forefront of technology, would be ahead when it comes to electric cars. Yet, Toyota is far beyond Tesla in this segment. Why does Toyota still not make electric vehicles? What is it that is an issue for Toyota, but not an issue for Tesla?
Torque News just learned on December 24 that Toyota plans to launch a two-seater compact EV next year in Japan with an initial sales target of around 100 vehicles for business and local government. Toyota compact EV will have some compact specs: it will run100 km (60 miles) per single charge and will cost around $16,000.
RPM's team took the question of why Toyota doesn't make electric vehicles to Toyota's team of engineers and designers and obtained some very interesting answers from them.
Toyota's Position on Electric Vehicles
From the outset, Toyota maintains that the main issue of electric vehicles is the production of batteries. What does not seem to be a big issue for a manufacturer like Tesla, which produces several hundred thousand electric vehicles annually, is for Toyota, whose battery capacity for electric vehicles is not as high.
Toyota, therefore, prefers to produce, with the same amount of materials that are used to build a single electric vehicle battery, 10, 15, 20, or even 25 hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicle batteries. This distribution of resources allows you to obtain more vehicles for the same amount of ore.
There is a definite advantage that results from this strategy. "The manufacturer insists on the fact that the reduction in pollution provided by several hybrids or plug-in hybrid vehicles is more significant than the impact of a single electric vehicle built with the same resources. It would therefore be, according to Toyota, more environmentally responsible to produce many hybrid vehicles than few electric vehicles," reports Samuel Lessard at RPM.
That being said, it is not because no electric vehicle using a battery is currently offered on the market by Toyota that the manufacturer is ignorant on this subject. The fact that several hybrid vehicles have been sold by Toyota for more than 20 years has enabled it to collect data useful for the eventual design of an electric vehicle. In fact, Torque News Toyota reporter Peter Neilson thinks that Toyota's upcoming solid-state battery will crash Tesla's Li-Ion batteries just because of the reach data and knowledge that Toyota has acquired on this subject through its thousands of patents.
When Will We See The First Toyota Electric Vehicle?
Make no mistake: "if there is money to be made with electric vehicles, Toyota will sooner or later join in," thinks Lessard. Moreover, the manufacturer is actively working on the development of new technologies, such as the solid electrolyte battery, which should prove to be less expensive to produce and more energy-efficient than the current lithium-ion battery. In fact, Toyota has said it will launch its own on the market in 2025.
More specifically, Toyota has committed to launching six new electric vehicles by 2025. It is therefore only a matter of time before being able to drive in a Toyota brand battery electric vehicle.
Tesla, on the other hand, keeps making good advances. It confidently leads the EV market right now. Tesla's rise, the advance in EV batteries, and the drop in battery prices will help Tesla in the next couple of years and end the parity with gas cars in Tesla's favor and in the favor of electric cars.
Soon, Tesla and Toyota will follow the same line as the Japanese government just announced a plan to ban cars with internal combustion engines by 2030.
Do you think Toyota will have a more confident position in the electric vehicle market than Tesla once it starts mass-producing electric vehicles?
Armen Hareyan is the founder and the Editor in Chief of Torque News. He founded TorqueNews.com in 2010, which since then has been publishing expert news and analysis about the automotive industry. He can be reached at Torque News Twitter, Facebok, Linkedin and Youtube.