How Toyota Fell Behind in Tapping EV Revolution

Toyota and its management have been staunchly opposed to electric vehicles for nearly two decades, until recently when the company has been signaling that it is getting serious about electric vehicles. Early this month, Toyota presented a vintage concept vehicle that runs entirely on batteries as well as a new hybrid model at the Tokyo Auto Salon. Last December, Toyota also revealed a strategy to bring five new emission-free cars to the market in Europe in 2026.

However, there is just one electric car available from Toyota as of now, and its sales are quite low. Hyundai and other rivals are using Toyota’s tardiness with electric vehicles as an opportunity to highlight their own clean-car triumphs, undermining the dominance of the Japanese auto industry giant.

This fall resulted from purposeful actions taken by Toyota’s management and not from the company’s careless economic mistake. To make matters worse, Toyota has combined its inability to innovate with a fierce determination to maintain its dominance as the most valuable automaker in the world by obstructing EV adoption.

Toyota’s first emission-free vehicle that is available almost everywhere across the world, the bZ4x, had a low production sprint, entered the American market recently (precisely last year), was the subject of a worrying recall safety notice, and eventually managed to sell a small number of models here—just a tiny fraction of the 800,000 electric vehicles sold domestically all through 2022. The bZ4x, however, received mixed reviews.

Despite the timeline setbacks, Toyota doesn’t intend to start scaling up the production of the bZ4x till 2025. Contrary to expectations, the automaker currently intends to pause its ongoing electric vehicle initiatives and restructure its sectoral overall plan in order to reduce the costs of production and draw inspiration from Tesla’s manufacturing methods.

Whereas Toyota has shown a desire to dialogue with its own opponents, it just hasn’t done much more to alter its approach, which is perhaps why environmental activists in Belgium and France as well as in Germany and the United Kingdom, vandalized several Toyota signboards last month during the Brussels Motor event. Instead of listening to the mob, Toyota’s top brass might pay attention to the investors and shareholders who are criticizing the company’s lobbying tactics and saying that EV manufacturing must be accelerated. Even its overseas opponents, who aren’t hesitant to speak it out, can do this.

The late entry of Toyota into the electric vehicle market could prove to be a speed hump for the company, especially if the company doesn’t become more enthusiastic regarding electric cars. It appears unlikely that their clients will keep the brand at heart for much longer.

The way things stand, Toyota’s mistake is likely to benefit startups such as Fisker Inc. (NYSE: FSR), which now have a chance to wrest customers from the auto giant that has dominated the industry for decades.

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