In his first press conference since taking over as Toyota CEO on April 1, Koji Sato said the Japanese automaker fully intends to catch up to competitors in the battery-electric vehicle segment. It now plans to build 1.5 million BEVs annually by 2026, a huge step up considering it sold fewer than 25,000 globally last year.
A new dedicated business unit will be put together to focus on next-generation vehicles and mobility solutions.
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What’s more, an updated version of the current e-TNGA platform as well as a brand new architecture will help Toyota launch 10 new BEV models within three years.
One of them will be a three-row SUV set to take on the likes of the Kia EV9. Using batteries sourced from a new plant in North Carolina (to open in 2025), this vehicle will be built in the U.S. Where exactly? Toyota wouldn’t say for now, but Japanese newspaper Nikkei is reporting that the Kentucky plant will be retooled with a target of 120,000 BEVs annually.
Sato was formerly the head of Lexus, which is set to become an EV-only brand in North America, Europe and China by 2030. While saying that Toyota would accelerate development of BEVs, he also stated that hybrids would continue to be a big part of what it calls a multi-channel approach.
“We will work to promote electrified vehicles and reduce CO2 emissions with leaving no one behind, including in emerging markets,” he said. “Through this all-direction approach, we aim to reduce average CO2 emissions for vehicles we sell worldwide by 33% by 2030 and by more than 50% by 2035 compared to 2019. We will continue to promote decarbonization globally and steadily toward 2050.”