Although Toyota is slow to switch to electrification, the company finally understands that the future of the automotive industry is electric cars. As a result, they recently announced they would create a specific electric vehicle platform for new fully electric BZ models including a sport crossover and a family SUV following their dismal, ill-fated BZ4X venture. Also, the resignation of Toyota’s longtime president and CEO, Akio Toyoda, is a testament to the company’s plans to regain automotive dominance.
And, while this doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll catch up soon with the rest of the manufacturers in the race for electric car supremacy, remember that in the 1970s, Toyota led a manufacturing revolution that changed the world by developing lean manufacturing principles, including the “Just-In-Time” Kanban system, “Kaizen” continuous improvement, and 5S organizational housekeeping. These developments enabled Toyota to dominate the global car market for over five decades. So even though the Japanese manufacturer is getting on the electrification bandwagon late, Toyota has the legacy and ability to return to leading the market for another 50 years.
Toyota Has Shaped The Auto Industry Through Innovation And Commitment To Quality
Photo of a Toyota assembly line
Toyota was founded in 1937, and since then, the Japanese automaker has been dedicated to manufacturing vehicles that set the pace in quality, reliability, and innovation. Historically, Toyota has always been committed to continuous improvement, which has allowed them to stay ahead of the competition. The company’s focus on innovation has been the driving force behind its success, and it has helped Toyota shape the automotive industry in many ways. Perhaps the most significant way Toyota has shaped the industry is through its production system. The Toyota Production System (TPS) is a manufacturing philosophy emphasizing the importance of reducing waste and increasing efficiency. This system has become a model for other manufacturers, and it has helped them produce vehicles more efficiently, which translates into cost savings for consumers. The TPS is based on two main principles: Just-in-Time (JIT) production and Kaizen. JIT production is a system in which materials are delivered to the production line exactly when needed. This eliminates the need for inventory, which can be costly and time-consuming. Kaizen is a philosophy of continuous improvement, where employees are encouraged to constantly look for ways to improve the production process.
Toyota Has Been A Leader In Environmental Awareness And Social Responsibility
Photo of the all-electric Toyota BZ4X
While Toyota has given way to environmental innovation in recent years and received criticism for failing to switch to EVs like most large automakers worldwide and instead investing heavily into white elephant technologies like hydrogen, they are still credited as an environmentally conscious company, thanks mainly to the Prius. In the 1990s, Toyota became a leader in environmental innovation when it introduced the Prius, the world’s first mass-produced hybrid vehicle. The Prius was a revolutionary vehicle that combined a gasoline engine with an electric motor, and it quickly became popular with environmentally conscious consumers. In addition, the Prius car set a new fuel efficiency standard and paved the way for other manufacturers to develop hybrid and electric vehicles. The 2023 Toyota Prius is praised as the best hybrid car there is.
Animation of the Toyota BEV BZ4X platform
In addition to its commitment to innovation, quality, and the environment, Toyota has also shaped the industry through its business practices. For example, the Japanese manufacturer has always been committed to treating its employees fairly, and this has helped them build a loyal and motivated workforce. Furthermore, Toyota continues its commitment to working with suppliers and partners to ensure that they are treated fairly and share in Toyota’s success. Another factor that has set Toyota apart from other automakers is its corporate social responsibility in giving back to the communities in which it operates and supporting many charitable organizations over the years. Additionally, the company is dedicated to reducing waste and improving sustainability in its operations, and it has implemented many initiatives to reduce its environmental impact.
The New Toyota CEO Is Aiming For Multi-pronged Carbon Neutrality
Photo of the Toyota hydrogen fuel cell powertrain
Under the direction of new CEO Kohi Sato, Toyota is focusing more on battery-electric vehicles. However, it still views hydrogen as feasible and will keep investing in this technology and in hybrid powertrains, such as the one that will incorporate the new generation of the 4Runner or the new Stout which could disrupt the compact pickup truck class. Kohi Sato said that Toyota will expand its hydrogen infrastructure in the coming years. “We want to ensure that hydrogen stays a viable option,” Sato said. “We need a production and transport supply chain.” “Unless we see evolution there, we cannot expect a volume increase in the energy’s use.”
Sato thinks hydrogen will be crucial to achieving Toyota’s many-pronged carbon neutrality aspirations, as Toyota’s hydrogen engines could revolutionize performance. Therefore, Toyota is collaborating with partners on the hydrogen front, including Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Iwatani Corp. It projects that by 2030, there will be 900 hydrogen filling stations in Japan, up from the current 160. “We are making full-fledged efforts on everything,” Sato said. “It is important to remain flexible to tailor products and energies to different carbon-neutral needs in different markets.”
Trucks parked in a line with a Toyota’s Hydrogen-Powered Fuel Cells
In conclusion, Toyota may not be at the forefront of the EV revolution, but it still has the potential to remain a serious player in the automotive industry. Its reputation for quality and reliability, investment in alternative fuel technologies, global presence and network of partners, commitment to innovation, and track record of adapting to changing market conditions all position them well for the future. Therefore, their longtime CEO, Akio Toyoda, resigned and handed the CEO role to Lexus chief Koji Sato to “let young people enter the new chapter of what the future of mobility should be like.” While EVs are undoubtedly a significant part of the future of the automotive industry, several factors could still influence the pace of their adoption. In fact, the new Toyota CEO recently suggested more sports cars are on the way. Therefore, Toyota’s diverse range of vehicles and commitment to innovation and sustainability means that it will continue to be a powerful force in the industry for years to come.