Toyota to claw back US market from Tesla with big electric SUV and 125-mile battery hybrids
Toyota's new CEO Koji Sato took the helm with a singular task to steer the automotive giant through the treacherous electrification path and today announced the launch of 10 new EV models by 2026. Long an advocate of a slower transition to electric vehicles, Toyota's longtime Chairman Akio Toyoda stepped down recently, saying that his strategy may need of an overhaul in light of the massive regulatory push towards electric cars.
Mr. Sato said that Toyota now plans to sell at least 1.5 million battery-powered vehicles in 2026, up from its previous 1.2 million goal, and will establish a dedicated division. Besides a brand new platform built from the ground up with EVs in mind, Toyota will also aim to make its current hybrid car offerings electric in all but in name. It will nearly triple the battery-only range of the Prius Prime it launched this week, to 200km (~124 miles) of range on a charge.
Since the typical commuter in the US drives 41 miles a day, the batteries in Toyota's upcoming hybrids will let them cover three days of commute before they have to plug in. Moreover, future efficiencies will allow Toyota to "double the range" of current batteries at the same footprint, the briefing mentioned. In the case of hybrids, that means it will be able to produce many 125-mile Prius Primes that will serve the needs of 90% of the American commuters, instead of just one 100 kWh EV with the same amount of battery raw materials.
Toyota's new EV strategy bets on regionality, too. In the US, it will bring pickups and a big SUV with 3 rows of seats that will be powered by tax credit-friendly batteries made in the North Carolina plant. Vans and cheap compact electric cars are also in the cards by Toyota, so Tesla better hurry up with the Model 2 and its own van plans.
Last year, Toyota saw a 9% sales slump in the US, as a lot of its potential gas-powered vehicle owners switched to electric cars, mainly from Tesla. It now seems determined to fight back and Sandy Munro is of the opinion that Toyota shouldn't be underestimated when it sets its mind on to something.