Japanese automakers are poised to debut a variety of electric vehicle models at an upcoming auto show in a bid to catch up to EV industry leaders Tesla and BYD. Toyota, Japan’s largest vehicle brand, has been slow to take to electrification and is one of the only major automakers with barely any footprint in the nascent EV industry.
Aside from its limited hybrid offerings, Toyota has only one battery-electric car on the market: the Toyota bZ4X. Toyota’s executive in charge of EVs Takero Kato has said more than once that the company “loves battery EVs,” a sentiment he believes will permeate the upcoming Tokyo Mobility auto show.
The show will be held from Oct. 26 to Nov. 5, 2023, at Tokyo Big Sight in Ariake District. The Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association announced that it is seeking partners in the startup ecosystem and other mobility-related sectors to take part in the auto show.
Mazda Motor is poised to show off a sportscar concept of a plug-in electric car equipped with the company’s signature rotary engine while Honda Motor will debut its concept for the Prelude sportscar EV. Top vehicle brand Toyota Motor also has a battery-powered Lexus concept that is set to hit the market in 2026.
American and Chinese companies have dominated the global electric vehicle industry so far. Tesla struck while the market was still young and secured a monopoly, but the Texas-based automaker has been forced to contend with increased competition locally and abroad. In the United States, established companies such as Ford and General Motors as well as startups such as Lucid have been giving Tesla a run for its money.
Over in China, local automakers such as BYD have pressured Tesla so much that the company was forced to make several price cuts to remain competitive. Japan, on the other hand, hasn’t made a large impact on the nascent electric vehicle market even though the nation has a massive automotive industry. Electric vehicles account for less than 5% of Japan’s auto market compared to the U.S. where EVs make up a little under 10% of vehicle sales.
Toyota executives admit the company has been slow to adopt electrification, partly due to its past success with hybrid cars such as the Prius, which sold 15 million units worldwide by 2021. Aside from the bZ4X and a small two-seater Toyota developed with Subaru, Toyota’s first electric vehicle offering will be the Lexus LF-ZC. Kato said the company is looking forward to building an “electrified future” with its customers.
That electrified future that Toyota envisions is likely to involve stiff competition with other actors in the industry such as Fisker Inc. (NYSE: FSR) since many EV makers are positioning themselves to claim a share of this lucrative market.
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