Among the Japanese automakers, Toyota has been rather apprehensive about shifting to pure EVs. Akio Toyoda, the president of Toyota Motor Corporation, even criticized the ban on combustion engines in the coming decades. "Policy that bans gasoline-powered or diesel cars from the very beginning would limit such options, and could also cause Japan to lose its strengths," said the executive.
Despite that, Japan's largest automaker is still investing in electric vehicle development. Their goal is to launch 15 battery-powered models by 2025. With that, Toyota has to play catch-up as most of its competitors are heavily invested in the EV revolution. Most of them have electrified versions of their popular models while Toyota only has four to offer.
Seven of these electric vehicles will be launched under the new bZ line. The first one was introduced back in April, dubbed the bZ4X. The bZ series also introduces Toyota's modular architecture for future electric vehicles. It's somewhat like the TNGA platform that underpins most of their passenger cars and crossovers, but this chassis is strictly for electric and battery power.
The other eight models could be split among their other subsidiaries, namely Daihatsu and Lexus. They even partnered up with BYD, Suzuki, and Subaru to speed up development time and spread out the costs. Not only that, the three automakers will benefit from the bZ's modular platform to build more EVs. Subaru is the first to utilize that chassis with their upcoming EV crossover, the Solterra.
What other models can we expect from Toyota's EV portfolio? Per the automaker, there will be a subcompact hatchback, along with a similarly sized crossover (likely Yaris Cross-sized). Also in the pipeline is a compact sedan (Corolla-sized), a minivan, and a mid-size (or large) crossover.
So why is Toyota still pushing for EVs despite their president's reservations? It's all down to sales and regulations outside Japan. Toyota can easily lose their spot in the global sales race if they do not adapt to the changing status quo. Another factor is the Chinese market. The brand is making strides over there and they wouldn't want to miss out on the world's biggest auto market. They made that point clear by introducing the bZ4X in China.
The automaker wouldn't want to slide down the sales charts as they've been at the top (or near the top) for decades. We're certain that they wouldn't want to become the Nokia or the Kodak of the automotive industry.