Home » Toyota Will ‘Drastically Change’ How It Does Business

Toyota Will ‘Drastically Change’ How It Does Business

Tmd Sato

Finally admitting what we’ve been saying all along, Toyota’s incoming new CEO told a crowd of reporters today that the company is going to have to radically reform its operations and make electrification its first priority. This is a change in course on par with thinking about walking to the grocery store to grab some carrots and then deciding to hike all the way to a farm to grow your own.

What else, what else. Oh, Toyota’s weird EV problems are now infecting Subaru. Nissan and Renault have found a project the two companies are excited to work on together in India, and Michigan is getting the Ford plant Virginia didn’t want.

Toyota’s Three-Pronged Strategy

20211214 Bev 44 1500x1000

The “hot mic” incident with new Toyota CEO Koji Sato a couple of weeks ago was a humanizing reminder that the people at the top of all these companies are, ultimately, human. The modern myth of the CEO has tried to make business leaders seem like superhuman beings. They are not. The reality is that, in a system where public companies are largely owned by a few huge investors (your BlackRocks, PIMCOs, and Saudi sovereign wealth funds), CEOs are often extra cautious, largely interchangeable sacks of meat trying to maintain never-ending profitability to guarantee the returns those big firms require. No one really wants to stick their neck out and there’s not much upside in doing so.

Toyota’s been a little different because, like Ford, Toyota is still partially a family-owned company. This gave former CEO Akio Toyoda a little more leeway to reform the company, and probably more of a personal sense of what’s at stake than most. He was successful, but he also had a blind spot regarding electrification. As recently as late September, Toyoda was complaining about the media hyping electric cars.

But while Sato has the support of the family, Sato’s last name isn’t on the cars. This morning in Japan, Sato laid out the truth, saying:

“To deliver attractive BEVs to more customers, we must streamline the structure of the car, and―with a BEV-first mindset―we must drastically change the way we do business, from manufacturing to sales and service. Lexus will lead this transformation.”

You can watch the whole thing here. You can also read a transcript of his speech here. He actually laid out three reforms, starting with the electric cars, followed by improving their software capabilities as they become a “mobility company,” and achieving carbon neutrality in Asia. All of these moves should sound familiar, as they’re in line with pretty much every other major car company’s goals over the next decade and change.

On the electricity front, Sato mentioned that Lexus will lead the charge with a new generation platform that’ll debut by 2026 and then filter down to other brands. This will be an EV-first platform.

As for mobility, I like the line from Hans Griemel’s report this morning:

Among Sato’s challenges will be determining just exactly what a “mobility company” is, in addition to ramping up Toyota’s competitiveness in the global electric vehicle race.


Subaru Recalling Its EVs Again

Tmd BoltsSubaru’s EV strategy has been to, uh, let its partner Toyota figure it out. A bold move considering that Toyota just sort of admitted that the company doesn’t have it all figured out its damn self. Toyota’s big EV push in North America has been the bZ4X crossover, which had a bizarre wheel hub/bolt problem that was so bad that Toyota agreed that it would just buy the vehicles back. In theory, this wasn’t going to impact buyers of the vehicle’s twin, the Subaru Solterra. All of those vehicles would be repaired before being delivered.

Except… one of the contractors who was responsible for doing the recall work apparently screwed up the repair. You can read the release here, but this is the bulk of it:

These vehicles were the subject of an earlier recall requiring the replacement of original hub bolts. Subaru identified an issue with vehicles repaired at two port locations by one particular team of contractors. The teams did not properly complete the repair procedure resulting in the potential for significantly under-torqued bolts.


Until the inspection/remedy is completed, please do not drive the vehicle.

Emphasis Subaru! If you actually bought one of these things best to get that inspected ASAP.

Nissan And Renault Are In The Pray Stage Of Their Eat, Pray, Love Saga


As Nissan-Renault rediscovers itself through an improved partnership, the Alliance is turning its eyes towards India. The companies announced they’d put $600 million into trying to increase fortunes in the country with three vehicles each, all built on shared platforms. The vehicles will be a mix of EVs and SUVs/crossovers.

India is the world’s third-largest car market, yet Nissan and Renault only have 3% of the pie. According to this Reuters report, the new vehicles will be built at the Alliance’s Chennai plant. This makes a lot of sense:

The Chennai plant can produce about 500,000 vehicles a year, but last year Renault sold only 87,000 in India and Nissan 35,000.

A plant at only 20% capacity ain’t a bad place to start, surely. There’s also a research and development center there, which could be used to make products that specifically appeal to the Indian market.

Michigan Gets Virginia’s Battery Plant


The politics of and around China are interesting as of late. We keep shooting down balloons that were probably sent by the country to spy on us. China is tentatively and uncomfortably on the side of Russia as Russia continues its illegal and brutal war in Ukraine. Much of our country’s defense posture has been to prevent the country from asserting dominance over Southeast Asia. The Inflation Reduction Act was pointedly created to address our weakness when it comes to battery production relative to China.

And yet… we aren’t at war with China. We do a ton of trade with China. Trade is supposed to prevent wars by giving both sides enough economic incentive to work it out. This sometimes happens. Sort of. Maybe.

To win the presidency in America, historically, you’ve got to win the backing of a major political party. Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin is betting that his opposition to Ford’s big battery plant, which it will operate with China’s CATL, is a good bet in the Republican primary. Thus, Youngkin axed plans for Ford/CATL’s battery plant in his state. Since it would be Ford using China’s technology to build batteries this seems more political than logical.

Michigan’s Government Gretchen Whitmer appears to be betting that jobs will trump any concerns over China and lobbied Ford to build the battery plant in southwest Michigan. It worked. Per The Detroit News:

The Dearborn automaker is poised to unveil a project worth at least $2.5 billion that would create roughly 2,500 jobs in partnership with Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd., the world’s largest producer of lithium iron phosphate batteries, according to four sources with knowledge of the project who were not authorized to discuss it ahead of Monday’s announcement.

The project will land on the Marshall Megasite, a 1,900-acre property in southwest Michigan’s Calhoun County that local and state officials have long been preparing for such a development. Under the plan, Ford would own the land and plant and manage the workforce; CATL would be the technology partner to develop and build LFP batteries for Ford’s electric vehicles; and Ford would be the recipient of any state incentives, the scope of which are still taking shape.

How this plays out is rather up in the air at the moment, literally.

Your Turn

Do you think this Sato fella is going to work out? What are your vibes?

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Photos: Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Subaru

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82 Responses

  1. By indicating that “Lexus will lead the way”, Sato recognizes that EVs are expensive, and thus, fit best as a luxury car rather than trying to make a cheap, mass-market, money-losing people’s car. GM might be able to swing that, but Toyota is not in a position to do that yet. This is a good sign that he has his head on straight. It also means that Toyota will be focusing on ICEs for a while longer.

  2. At the very least, Sato has the correct market segment targeted for electrification first. As much as I’d like a phalanx of cheap electric vehicles, you have to lead with the expensive cars first, to finance development of the cheap ones.

    I think Sato would get much better results if instead he made every Lexus hybrid into a plug-in hybrid as quickly as possible, and follow that with equivalent Toyotas a year or two later. Driving the first 20-50 miles of every day in near silence is a pretty compelling element of luxury, and that’s a cheap and easy change to make compared to all-new platforms carrying huge, expensive batteries.

    1. I think this is less about development costs, heck Toyota of all companies has almost limitless resources to spend on R&D, as much as it’s about having the margin available to experiment.

      Look at the gross margin Tesla is pulling down, better than Porsche. The same is true at Audi, Lexus, Mercedes, etc. Having a 20-25% GM on $60-100k SUV gives Toyota lots of room to mess up, spend more per component, spend more learning how to build EVs efficiently, etc vs starting with the RAV4.

      It doesn’t hurt that luxury buyers do like EVs and usually have garages/single family homes with off street parking that makes EV charging easy too.

    1. +1

      If they REALLY want to call themselves mobility companies, the LEAST they could do is offer a wheelchair van from the factory! The aftermarket conversions cost way too much, and a factory wheelchair van would almost certainly be cheaper

      1. In a past life I was an engineer at the leading wheelchair van conversion company, so I speak with a bit of experience here.

        I suspect a factory effort would not be much cheaper. Every conversion has a lot of new or redesigned parts, a ton of engineering hours, and a lot of labor involved. To build one from scratch on the same production line as regular vans would probably not be possible; you’d need to build it normally and cut it apart the way we did, or build it in a dedicated factory. There would be some small savings from the original factory parts not being wasted, but that might be canceled out by the fact that each OEM would need to design its own conversion, duplicating effort (we sold FCA, Honda, and Toyota conversions).

        The unfortunate truth is that the accessible vans are a niche product that is very necessary to those who rely on them, but that can’t benefit from economies of scale and that require a lot of engineering to make them meet safety and reliability standards. There isn’t really a good way around the fact that they are going to cost a lot.

  3. The media does hype electric cars though.

    Every article you guys have written about the change in leadership at Toyota has implied that they’ve done something wrong, or are behind the curve, or are screwed going forward. You’re welcome to that opinion of course, but given their track record of success with a conservative and slow-moving mindset, I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt here.

    Also, as I’ve consistently said, there are a lot of people for whom EVs aren’t a solution right now. As far as I know, there are no paradigm-shifting improvements to batteries, grid capacity, or infrastructure coming in the short-term. So diversification beyond “All EVs, and only EVs!!!” would seem to make sense. And yet, that’s not the attitude we see here.

    1. Nice to see someone writing this. I don’t oppose EVs, not at all. Yet I can make a very good case for me not owning one, from shaky local infrastructure to the impracticality of outdoor charging here for a goodly number of months a year to configuration (I neither need nor want an SUV.CUV/crossover/what-have-you) to not enough range to too expensive to the very basic fact that every car I’d like to own has a gasoline engine.

      Others don’t see it that way. I see a ton of Teslas around here, plus a few Bolts. Doesn’t bother me. Doesn’t change my mind, either.

      Don’t see why Sato can’t make it work. He’s apparently going with the flow on EVs. I hope he sends “Toyotathons” and twelve-month-a-year “sales events” to the crusher, though. It would also be a plus in my book if he would make sure to keep the “GR” ICE models flowing for those of us who dig them.

      1. I’m not anti-EV, I’m anti-mandate.

        Because while I could probably make an EV work if I was willing to make quality of life sacrifices, there are plenty of people who simply can’t. They perhaps can’t afford one like I can, they might live in colder climates than I do, tow more than I do, don’t have a garage like I do, etc. In less than 12 years, those people theoretically will not be able to buy a new vehicle that meets their needs. That is something I see as a tragedy.

        I hope Toyota (and others) continue with a variety of new powertrain development.

        1. In 12 years, those problems will have been solved — we’re past the inflection point. Essentially every major car manufacturer other than the Japanese have now committed their future product plans (=all the money) to electric.

          This doesn’t mean that every need can be met today, but in 5 years it’ll be a small minority of people who couldn’t live with an electric car. Even the used market — batteries are holding up better than expected. (The cheap beaters in the future will be used Teslas — the downside of infrequent exterior style changes is that when it looks old, all of them will look old.)

          Assuming that charging infrastructure keeps up, which is a political question, unfortunately.

          1. Right now, I could tow 15,000 lb with my truck 1000 miles on a -20 deg F day if I wished.

            You’re 100% confident that will be possible with an EV in 12 years? Because I’d almost bet my life it won’t be. In fact, I doubt much of any long range towing will be possible.

            Is my example the typical use case for most people? Of course not. But if you’re going to do something like ban new ICE vehicles, you’d better be sure you can cover everyone’s bases. Because some people really do use their trucks like that.

            1. You admittedly are an outlier case. If 90% of people just use a vehicle for basic transportation, PHEV is the easiest and cheapest solution. Full electrification can then continue to develop as they attempt to find alternatives to rare earth elements and expanding the charging grid. A level 2 charging infrastructure needs to also become the norm in apartments and other types of group housing.

              1. Towing is not an outlier activity!

                It might be an outlier among car enthusiast blog commenters, but a huge number of people tow, and tow often. 1000 miles, 15,000 lb, and -20 degrees are obviously chosen as an extreme case, but the truth is that several vehicles capable of that task are sold now, and that no EV ever built is close to duplicating it.

                My personal opinion is that we shouldn’t have mandates at all, but if we must, at least make sure the technology works for everyone before mandating it. Don’t put the deadline out there and assume it will all work out. If EVs are half as good as their advocates claim, no mandates would be necessary anyways, people would simply buy them as the better option.

                1. “Towing is not an outlier activity!”

                  Yes it is.

                  The vast majority of vehicle owners have no need to tow anything.

                  If you need to tow something regularly, then you are part of a minority.

                  1. There’s a difference between being a “minority” and being “so insignificant that you needn’t be taken into account”.

                    Almost 500,000 towable RVs were sold just last year. Plus however many older ones are on the road. Plus however many flatbed trailers, enclosed trailers, utility trailers, farm trailers etc are out there.

                    So no, 51% of Americans don’t tow. But that should hardly be the deciding factor on whether someone matters. And the fact is, EVs and towing don’t mix. Barring a major breakthrough in energy density, the same will be true in 2035. I simply think mandates shouldn’t exist until they can cover all use cases.

                    Maybe a PHEV will work, maybe not. No example has been shown yet. Again, it might happen, but it might not either.

                    1. Here are some thought experiments. Each of these proposals would lower emissions, and each would affect what (to you guys seemingly) is an insignificant portion of the driving public. If you don’t like these proposals, but do support virtually banning towing as a pastime or livelihood, consider why that might be.

                      1) The govt in its wisdom has decreed that all cars over 20 years old pollute too much and can no longer be registered. Surely only a SINGLE DIGIT PERCENTAGE of people could appreciate an old car, and no one really NEEDS one.

                      2) The govt in its wisdom has decreed that anyone living within a mile of any mass transit station is no longer allowed to own a car of any kind. Surely only a SINGLE DIGIT PERCENTAGE of people live in these spots, and those people who are affected can just ADAPT, right?

                      3) The govt in its wisdom has decreed that “tuning” or modifying a car is a serious crime against the climate, the penalties up until now have been insufficient to stop offenders, and going forward anyone found in possession of a tuned car is subject to jail time and the car is crushed. Surely only a SINGLE DIGIT PERCENTAGE of people tune their cars, and those affected can just DRIVE WHAT WE TELL THEM IS OK.

                      Maybe you like all those proposals. If so, I pity you, and question what you’re doing on an enthusiast site. I don’t see much difference between mandating EVs and the above, but of course it’s always easier to laugh when something you don’t care about is being taken away from others.

                    2. Yeah, not only is the need-to-tow crowd not a majority, it is a very tiny minority (as in not 49%, more like single-digit % of all motorists).

                2. I will not begrudge someone else needing a diesel. I just don’t think they should serve as the commuter/family hauler. The most aggressive mandates (CA, etc.) aren’t 100% electric. They also allow for plug-in hybrids. The F-150 Powerboost is an incredible vehicle with a 12,700 lbs. tow rating. Make a plug-in version of that or a hydrogen one and you’ll still be able to do everything you want or need.

                  Trucks represent about 20% of total vehicle sales from 2010-2021. And according to JD Edwards, 75 percent of truck owners tow once a year or less. That means out of the 92% of Americans who own trucks, only 4.6% need something that really tows. The remaining 95.4% don’t need this capacity.

                  Now am I happy my Ford Mavierck has a tow hitch (after a very long saga involving dealers screwing me over), yes. I am I looking at Scamps right now because of Mercedes getting me hooked on adorable fiberglass campers, also yes. Will I also be the first to order a Maverick once a PHEV model is available? You bet.

                3. The problem is that without mandates, you tend to end up with the lowest common denominator dominating the marketplace. Pretending that people are rational actors who will make good decisions, or, gods forbid, that corporations who are beholden to the pantheon of perpetual growth, quarterly profits, high margins, and value to the shareholders, aren’t going to just build whatever they can make the most profit on, regardless of if it’s actually a good idea. (Seatbelts, collapsible steering columns, airbags, antilock brakes…)

        2. That would be me: no garage, cold climate (New England), limited funds.

          Actually, it would be damn difficult for me to find a NEW vehicle that “meets my needs” today, and has been for several years. Fortunately, there are quite a few used cars that would suit me just fine. Of course the supply will dwindle, but should last my lifetime. I’m grateful for the 25-year rule….

          1. What kind of car would meet your needs?

            My version of this question would be an all-wheel drive, 4-door, sporty liftback. VW Golf R is the only option, but it would need to have actual buttons and cost less.

            1. In my dreamworld, a nice low-mileage and well-maintained VW R32 would fit the bill perfectly.

              Compared to current cars, my very first wheels — a ’59 Hillman Minx that I got for a princely $50 — would be better. Small, with actual knob and/or lever controls and a manual gearbox would be more suitable.

        3. 100% agreed. The whole campaign message that “we know what you really need” and “you can do 95% of what you need to do with an EV” is a shit approach. All EV or nothing will never work. We should be pushing for interesting PHEVs that meet peoples needs today, just like the PHEVs Toyota is already making. You’ll encounter 1000% less resistance from people, save a crap ton of gas, and gain some pure EV converts along the way.

        4. I think the question is who is going to make all the apartment and rental house owners add sufficient charging capability to their rental dwellings. That’s the big problem I see with increasing EV usage.

      2. There are a lot of us here. I think EV technology is cool and necessary and I consider myself an environmentalist, but I don’t think it makes you some kind of regressive idiot if you aren’t ready to just adapt. There are, in fact, a lot of people who EVs don’t work for right now.

        The infrastructure isn’t there yet. They’re prohibitively expensive. We don’t yet know the full environmental costs of extensive lithium mining, battery disposal, etc…and I don’t think the “the average person only drives (X) miles” argument holds up. Averages are rarely the best indication of something due to how much they’re shaped by outliers, and even if you only average 60 miles per week or whatever if you need to make a 200+ mile trip frequently there’s a good chance that an EV isn’t up to it yet, especially if you aren’t on one of the coasts.

        Again…I am absolutely not an EV hater and my wife is looking to make her next car a PHEV. The technology is cool and good…but the mandates are pie in the sky right now and manufacturers/average consumers are paying the price.

        1. Very much in agreement. I think BEVs are cool and awesome, and look forward to things continuing to move in that direction, but… I’m also thinking it’s best to look towards the best ideal usage cases first. There’s so much that can be done outside personal cars. For instance, things like school buses and short haul last mile deliveries/trucking should have a tremendous return on investment. It simply won’t be reasonable or possible to have electrical infrastructure built out for BEVs to work for everyone in the next year or maybe even five to ten years. How can we expect to have everyone running an electric vehicle in California where I live when every summer we have a power crisis?
          I personally have two different driving use cases I need to accomodate. For my daily driver a BEV would be ideal as that car has never been more than 150 miles from my house. On the other hand you’ll pry the Suburban I use for road tripping, hauling, bad-roading, and towing from my cold, dead fingers.
          The bottom line is that I am suspicious of all extremists. I don’t appreciate the specious arguments the fossil fuel guzzling “drill, baby, drill” types use against electric vehicles and renewable energy in general any more than I appreciate the sheer blindness to reality of those who think we can simply make some government mandates and pivot on a dime to renewables and electric vehicles. It’s all a process. Over time I plan to put a battery in my house so I can store my excess solar panel energy generated during the day and use it overnight – perhaps even go off grid most of the time. I also plan to get a BEV the next time I buy another daily driver. But that’s what is right for me – I can’t necessarily judge what’s going to work well for everyone else, nor would I be arrogant enough to try.

    2. The media hypes EVs because they need something to get eyeballs on them 24/7 and they know they will get tons of rage clicks/posts from EV haters that help them pay their bills. No other agenda is necessary.

    3. EVs are great for my use case and I would own one in a hot minute if I wasn’t at the “nurse a $2k minivan along for me next year” stage of my life, but the battery requirements and shitty out of home charging network means it can’t be my only vehicle. A PHEV on the other hand would work as a one vehicle solution: battery for the short trips that make up 90% of my driving and a gas motor for the other 10%. The lower battery requirements and mature ICE tech are also benefits.

    4. When it comes to the EV hype in this case, I think that many are concerned that Toyota is simply going to fall far behind their competitors. So far the #1/#2 automaker in the world (depending on the month) has managed to put out one horrible turd of an EV. It’s a little alarming.

      I’m not exactly a champion of the current crop of EV options, or some of the use cases. But EVs are happening, we’re all just uncertain of how fast the transition is going to be. My guess is pretty slow. But I don’t think the attitude or appearance of half-hearted EV development is going to do Toyota any favors in the future, regardless of how long the transition takes. Maybe Toyota has a good track record of slow and steady, but there’s a difference between that and willfully ignoring the inevitable.

        1. While I referred to a transition to EVs, I never claimed that all other options were going away, certainly anytime soon. It’s still important for Toyota to field competitive EVs even if the market ends up say, 50/50.

        2. Which is why I think hydrogen makes a lot of sense for long hauling transportation. Generate it using the same “green” grid that’s supposedly powering all the EVs and treat it like a less efficient but more energy dense battery.

          1. Hydrogen has some pretty sizable hurdles to overcome storage and production-wise before it’s really ready for the mainstream. There’s been some promising research lately on better, cheaper catalysts, and that’s going to be a big boost if it can scale industrially, but storing hydrogen is still a non-trivial challenge. It’s another thing that DOE, DARPA, NASA, the NSF and every other energy-related acronym ought to be funding research into.

    5. Absolutely. Everyone seems to stick their fingers in their ears and go nah nah nah when you mention scalability of BEVs.
      They take rare materials that are difficult to mine.
      We can’t possibly build enough chargers to get everyone home on thanksgiving. You’d need a 20 story parking garage full of chargers at every rest stop.

  4. I fear that Sato is being set up to take a fall here. Member of the Toyoda family does a poor job of prepping the company for the electric future. Non-family member brought in to do a lot of dirty work and then take the fall for all the unpopular changes. New family member steps in when it all stabilizes to put the past behind and lead to a great future.

  5. Britain and Germany were each other’s largest trading partners in 1913. Rationality and society are generally not synced up. Or greed takes a back seat to fervor in the short run (but never the long run).

  6. At first glance I don’t think Sato will do any better. By basically saying BEVs will only be a Lexus product he is effectively limiting the affordability of them. Toyota has had BEV concepts that would work as production vehicles. In 2011 Toyota had a production ready iQ BEV.

    The iQ is arguably the best newer small car with seating for 4 in a very compact package. A new BEV iQ would require a minimum amount of batteries per vehicle reducing both the cost and the weight of said vehicles, and since it’s designed to be a city vehicle it doesn’t need to have a 300+ mile highway range. Keep it cheap and keep it practical and it’ll sell, noone sell any properly small new cars in the US.

    Toyota could also do factory Suzuki Jimny BEV “conversions”, slap a Toyota badge on them, and sell them in the US.

    The Subaru Solterra is the Anti Subaru, compromised interior space, compromised driver visibility, low profile tires, low ground clearance, expensive, weak, etc. Subaru should be building their own BEVs, not slapping Subaru badges on something that is so obviously not a Subaru

  7. If I say I’m a mobility company, will people hurl more money at me than I deserve? We’re a multi-surface airborne services company based in Austin, Texas, here to dynamically send it hard, early and often. Sending-as-a-Service.

    Hell, SXSW is next month, so I’m sure I can slap together a pitch deck with lots of pictures of the Porsche 911 Dakar getting mad air. That’s what we do here at Send, Inc., a real mobility company that could totally exist if I found the right suckers: jump the 911 Dakar. The money would be immediately blown on a 911 Dakar.

  8. Toyota was last voice of reason on the suspiciously accelerated transition to EVs.

    If the free market is so fantastic, why would we need to mandate these products?

    If we’re mandating all of this for the climate than why dig the earth a new hole extracting enough lithium to make a sea of F-150 Lightnings possible?

    Follow the money.

    Like you said, being somewhat family-owned gave them some autonomy to buck the establishment.

    Toyota knows a Prius is infinitely better for society than any 6-9k lb all-electric SUV. But “better for society” and “follow the money” are almost always mutually exclusive.

    They are becoming afraid of being the automotive world’s Big Jim Colisimo. A Moustache Pete in a world where greed is as constant as change.

    1. Well, BEV’s are just the cheapest possible way to build greener and more efficient vehicles. So, in a way you’re right with the follow the money. But it’s not the conspiracy theory reason you wish it was, just economics. If we mandate greener cars, BEV’s is the best way in the foreseeable future. Simple as that.

  9. I think Sato will do well, but I hope Toyota keeps non-plug-in hybrids in the line. We need a more nuanced and individual messaging about what it takes to reduces carbon emissions that takes into account yearly mileage, cold climate, how clean the electricity is in your zip code, and whether or not you are getting a bigger vehicle than you really need for you needs rather than just EVs good, ICE bad.

    Zip code – I’m in a dirtier zip code, and hybrids can be better than EVs in greenhouse gas (GHG) emission. According to fueleconomy.gov, the total tailpipe plus upstream greenhouse gases in my zip code of driving a hybrid Prius is 155g tailpipe+33g upstream GHG= 188g/mile. That is similar to EVs like the Model 3 (170g/mile upstream GHG… but the Tesla probably loses more range in the cold than the hybrid Prius loses mpgs in the cold. Over a calendar year, I think the hybrid Prius wins in being clean). The hybrid Prius also beats EVs like the Mach E (210g/mile upstream GHG), Taycan (240g/mi). If you compare driving a Prius around to those doing similar drives in trucks like the F-150 Lightning (290g/mi) *which is basically useless for towing*, its no comparison, the hybrid wins. I hate the message that EVs are better than hybrids. They are in many, maybe most localities, but individualize the message.

    Yearly mileage. Despite what it might look like outwardly, I’m saving the world by driving my 20 and 27 year old Subaru wagons. I drove 1,3xx miles last year, and according to my Fuelly log, I bought 59.9 gallons of gasoline, which produced 600 kg of CO2e. Just producing one Tesla Model 3 and not putting a single mile in it produces 10,400 kg of CO2e. I can go 17 years at my 2022 gasoline consumption to equal just making one Model 3. Individualizing the messaging: For those who are environmentally conscious enough to arrange their life to not have to drive much, it’s better for the environment to make your cars last as long as possible, even if they are ICE.

    In the future, when they try to limit/ban ICE cars (like London), I’d like to see exemptions for cars that are driven few miles, say 5,000 miles a year, because that directly affects GHG emissions. Or have the exemptions based on age – classic cars aren’t generally driven 10,000 miles per year.

    Cold climate: My ICE and previous hybrid car (Prius hybrid) both lose mpgs in the winter, but the reported losses are higher in EVs. Especially since what those reports consider cold are not very cold compared to the typical winters where I live.

    Those that are large humans or actually need to tow might like their large SUVs, but I’d like to see the CAFE incentives that result in today’s sales being 75% ‘light trucks’ and 25% cars fixed. Having CAFE standards that incentivize producing larger footprint vehicles doesn’t make sense.

    1. Adding: PHEVs make sense in a lot of situations, and I’m for them, but hybrids are better in places like my zip code. For one, a hybrid Prius battery costs $2500 from the dealer, while the battery for the plug-in/”Prime” versions of the Prius costs $10,000. And, like I said previously, the Prius in hybrid mode is as good for GHG emissions as EVs in my zip code. I’d consider buying (and have in the past bought) a used hybrid Prius and have $2500 in savings in a repair fund, but a Prime or Volt would be a nope. Especially since I’m the type that will try/expect a car to run for decades.

  10. I don’t know much about this Sato fellow who’s running Toyota, but his name reminds me of Ken Sato, the remarkably talented photographer and writer who would occasionally post articles full of beautiful pictures of interesting cars from Japan over on that *other* site. You guys should poach him to Autopian or at least feature his work as a guest contributor.

  11. “Among Sato’s challenges will be determining just exactly what a “mobility company” is, in addition to ramping up Toyota’s competitiveness in the global electric vehicle race.”

    What is a mobility company?
    A company where ‘innovation’ consists of replacing developers with ChatGPT output. A ‘you will own nothing, and you will like it’ company. A company that takes the next step and owns the sheet metal in your driveway perpetually. (What, you think you actually own your car? Read the software license – if you can find it – kids. Every line of code in that car is property off the manufacturer, who is just letting you use it.)
    That’s what a ‘mobility company’ is. Nothing good.

    “Toyota’s big EV push in North America has been the bZ4X crossover, which had a bizarre wheel hub/bolt problem that was so bad that Toyota agreed that it would just buy the vehicles back.”

    Which raises the question of how people are so stupid as to continue to propagate the myth that Toyta’s are magical bulletproof vehicles that run forever on used motor oil and gas full of water.
    They fucked up a very, very basic engineering task so badly that the hubs were falling off the cars, on test drives. Know how many manufacturers have pulled that one off? None. Insufficiently tightened wheels, sure. That’s happened. Improperly sealing hubs resulting in bearing failure? Yup.
    Shipping hubs incapable of handling the calculated suspension loads of the vehicle, resulting in hubs shearing off the car and fucking up the fix three times before a buyback? That achievement goes to Toyota alone.

    India is the world’s third-largest car market, yet Nissan and Renault only have 3% of the pie.

    Yes, because Nissan and Renault are developing new products on new platforms with new safety technology. Which costs money.

    The most popular car in India is the Maruti Suzuki Alto, followed by the WagonR, and the Swift. Their headline feature for 2023 is ‘now with an airbag and ABS.’ The Maruti Suzuki Alto has an OTD price of less than what it costs to replace the driver’s airbags in a Nissan Altima. A lot less.
    And how do they do it? By deleting all the expensive safety steels, all the safety features, nifty things like disc brakes, and throwing a 30 year old 1L petrol/CNG engine that can’t legally be sold anywhere else in the world in it.
    For fuck’s sake, this is a country that kept a license-built copy of the Morris Oxford in production with basically zero changes from 1957 until 2014.

    If the three of them had any brains between them, they’d ship the Nissan Tsuru (1994 Sentra) tooling from Mexico to India, change the lights a bit, throw the circa-2002 CR10DE in it (India has huge taxes on anything over 1.2L regardless of fuel economy or emissions,) and call it a day.

    1. To think that in a world where Priuses have been around since the turn of the century and the Plug in hybrids of everything else exist basically through out the lineup, the ability of Toyota to not go full EV on anything is a little hard to swallow. The Sato guy seems to be drinking the EV coolaid a bit harder, so I imagine the will to follow the others into the abyss will now take front and center.

    2. I think your knowledge of the Indian car market is a bit outdated. Dual Airbags and ABS have been mandatory in India for years now and 6 Airbags will be made mandatory shortly. In fact, they were supposed to become mandatory last year, but some manufacturers (like Maruti Suzuki) forced the Road Transport Ministry to delay the law by threatening to kill their entry-level models. India’s Emissions Standards are also quite strict and are modelled on European ones.

      What you said about safety steels and frames specifically IS true, but only Maruti (and to a much lesser extent Hyundai and Kia) still do it prolifically. India’s major fully domestic manufacturers, Tata and Mahindra, have been pushing up safety in their own models for several years now, and recently the other Asian and European brands have begun doing the same in their attempts to erode Maruti’s market share. It’s begun working: Maruti’s market share used to be over 50%, but it’s slowly falling. Tata, Mahindra and now Skoda/VW are almost in an arms race to get the highest safety scores in the economy segment.

      Nissan in particular might want safety to be something they promote. Their previous big investment into India was actually a variant of your Tsuru suggestion: A completely stripped-out and facelifted Nissan Micra sold as the Datsun Go. It came out right as India began its first (semi-voluntary) safety testing program and performed so disastrously that it permanently ruined the Go’s reputation and sales, eventually leading to Datsun’s collapse. They’ll probably want to avoid a repeat of that.

      1. It’s not. I’m getting that information from Maruti Suzuki’s website. So yeah. And okay, fine, ‘an airbag’ being the passenger one. Certain classes of cars still do not require dual airbags, some don’t require any safety measures. Such as Tuk-Tuks (rickshaws) and motorcycles.
        And yes, the fact that the 6 airbag law was ‘delayed’ is why I didn’t even factor it in. Political corruption is the national fucking sport over there, above Cricket, but currently behind Hindu-driven genocide and discrimination. (That’ll probably change if they ever get rid of Mazi – I mean Modi. Cricket might take the top spot again then. Seriously, the amount of discrimination and violence based on it in that country is horrifying.)
        Basically, Maruti Suzuki and the others didn’t ‘lobby effectively.’ They paid people off. With cash money. And pointed out nobody could afford the cars then. Such is the way of things.

        And it’s not true that it’s only Maruti and Hyundai. Remember that India has a tremendous amount of domestic steel production, and a government with an extremist nationalist agenda. Tata and Mahindra own – you guessed it – steel mills. Tata Steel was the 4th largest steel producer worldwide until the Chinese started dumping – they’re still 10th largest. India’s big on coal to this day – which is convenient for steelmaking. Dump 600 million tons of coal off in the yard, and it gets used for both alloying and fueling everything. And if they use the steel that’s not actually up to snuff for domestic cars and pay themselves for it, well, who’s to complain?
        But don’t equate ‘pushing up safety’ with ‘actually safe.’ Tata made a big deal about the Nexon achieving a 4 star rating in Global NCAP – but those cars are nothing like the domestic models they sell. Those are export models. There is an extreme split between ‘what gets sold at home’ and ‘what gets sold abroad.’
        Because the number four national past time? Interminably long court proceedings that never resolve. Yes folks, the result of their grand reforms is that more than 47 million cases are pending, and more than 1.8 million of those have been pending for over 30 years. That’s as of May last year. And that backlog is increasing rapidly. Go ahead and sue Tata. Between the corruption and the courts, they can wait you out.

        And if ‘safety sells’ worked? Look. Full year 2021? In order: Maruti Suzuki WagonR, Maruti Suzuki Swift, Maruti Suzuki Baleno, Maruti Suzuki Alto, Hyundai Creta, Maruti Suzuki Dzire, Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Maruti Suzuki Eeco, Maruti Suzuki Ertiga, and the Tata Nexon. Everything but the Alto, Baleno, Eeco, Dzire, Swift, and WagonR is a ‘keeping up with the Muricans’ SUV.
        Being very embarrassingly unsafe compared to the cherry-picked special the home team trotted out? Oh yeah. That’s going to crater sales hard when even the locals accurately refer to the home team as ‘egg shells’ and a lot worse. But again: ‘less unsafe’ is not ‘safe,’ and export models are not domestic. You put your best foot forward with export unless it’s being shipped to a developing country (India is a developing country,) and you dump whatever slop on the domestic because patriotism and nationalism shall carry the day! Buy domestic!
        Don’t even try saying it doesn’t work. America proves time and time again it works. Unless your product is so utterly atrocious and inferior that nobody can ignore it’s shortcomings no matter how many flags you wrap it in. See also: the 1980’s in America! Convenient, that. Which also neatly explains the sales figures in India, natch.

        But not only that: India is a developing country. I don’t make the definitions so don’t yell at me about it. But they’re sure as shit not wrong. You get outside the major cities, and it’s not ‘indoor plumbing is a luxury.’ It’s literally ‘don’t drink the water, you will get cholera, typhoid, or both.’ British colonialism sure as shit did not help things in the least, make no mistake. But India is still a country where $10,000USD is a king’s ransom, and far more than a Dalit can expect to earn in their lifetime.
        India’s per capita income as of 2021 is $1,049.54USD. That’s per year. Putting it below such halcyons as Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Solomon Islands, Ghana, Laos (yes that Laos,) and waaaaaay behind Bolivia – one of the places they export cars to. In fact, the average per capita income for countries they export to is far more than double theirs. (For contrast, the per capita income in Mississippi is $45,438.) More than 140 million Indians live on less than $2.15 a day.
        All that ‘competition’ is pure safety theater, using unrealistic cars that don’t sell domestically because nobody can afford them, to reassure skeptical export markets. In a country where it takes 5 years of your income to buy the cheapest new car, do you really think they can possibly afford a car with $4,000 of airbags, much less real safety features? That’s why Tata sells basically zero Harriers at ₹16.00Lakh (about $19,375) and up, but a lot of cut down CNG Nexons at ₹7.8Lakh (about $9,500.)

    3. The recall issue on the BZ4X and Solterra DID NOT involve hubs shearing off of the vehicle. The issue was with the wheel mounting bolts (yes, bolts like a Euro car) possibly loosening under specific driving conditions, which could result in a loose wheel. The fix was a revised wheel and a revised wheel bolt with a captive, spherical faced washer plus a slight increase in bolt torque. I know this because I have performed the recall procedure myself. Toyota bought back vehicles not because the problem was insurmountable, but instead because the time needed to develop a corrective measure was unknown. A long term “car down” situation due to an admitted safety issue is a near-certain lemon law buyback. Losing that case in California would have put Toyota on the hook for treble damages!

      1. Yeah, and if you believe that’s the problem when they have multiple documented instances of the hub assembly bolts fracturing and shearing resulting in the whole assembly going walkabout?
        You’re exactly the kind of incurious tech I don’t let near cars.

        And it isn’t the first, second, fifth, or even fiftieth time that Toyota has straight up lied about major design and manufacturing defects.
        DENSO fuel pumps that failed due to using gasoline-unsafe plastic impellers. 15 year, 150,000 mile warranty for those campaigns.
        CAA violations where they deliberately and willfully refused to warranty or repair known defective emissions systems. For 10 years – 2005 to 2015.
        The notorious sludge settlement affecting over 7.5 million cars which grenaded literal millions of engines.
        Australia’s threatening up to $2B for Toyota selling known defective DPFs in every Hilux with a diesel from 2015 to at least 2020.
        Oh, let’s not forget the defectively manufactured and designed 2AZ-FEs. Which turned out to be all of them. Which Toyota claimed a TSB saying ‘1 quart of consumption per 1000 miles is normal’ fixed.

        1. I appreciate your courage to go against the Toyo-stans and dare to criticize Toyota’s garbage engineering with facts against myths.

          For me, even if I could go past the fact that in past 40 years they haven’t had any decent engine that wasn’t designed, built (or both) by Yamaha, or that their “fun” cars are badge-engineered Subarus and BMWs, I just cannot overlook their constant lobbying against lowering emission standards, donating money to election-denying ghouls and the multiple anti-EV campaigns full of lies.

          1. The best part is when the idiots insist I don’t know anything about Toyota and I haven’t ever owned a Toyota.

            Lawl. There’s a ’21 Corolla parked in my driveway right now. Keys are sitting on my desk. And it’s more hateful than the absolute base model Echo I test drove (I wanted ‘lightweight, manual’ but not ‘Nothing but Vibration and Harshness,’) the plastics make Ford look good but boy do they fool people with the faux-leather toupee on the dash, hands down the worst seat fabric I’ve ever suffered, it doesn’t have OE tires it has OE noise-makers, and without any question the absolute worst and downright non-functional infotainment of any current car.
            And motherfuckers, I owned a whole lot of ’94-’96 Ford Escorts, 80’s Dodge, early 00’s Pontiacs, and a GM J-Body. I know shit cars.

            And that’s not even the worst sin. Nope. Not even close. Because it is an irredeemable pile of broken shit. Not “the CVT is meh.” Not “it has no features because it’s a lease special.” Not “the speakers are crappy” even though they are. 8200 miles on the odometer and let me just rattle off the problems I’m having to argue with them about.
            There’s a rattle like somebody left their 10mm inside the dash going over bumps. “It’s a Corolla. That’s normal.”
            The CVT isn’t ‘sluggish,’ it outright doesn’t shift half the time. When I press the downshift button, a 5 second delay is not kosher. “That’s normal.”
            If you actually apply more than 3% throttle, the CVT also doesn’t upshift and just holds the car at 3500RPM. At 30MPH. “That’s normal.”
            The thermostat is most definitely stuck open; no damn heat, and 10 minutes of driving in 50F weather still doesn’t get it up to operating temperature. Even my Porsche doesn’t take that long to get the oil up to temp. Which also means the catalytic converter isn’t getting hot enough to work correctly. “That’s normal.”
            NONE of that shit is normal on any car at any price. If I wrote up the thermostat complaint at Chrysler’s most dire financial straits, they still would have immediately approved a half gallon of coolant and dab of RTV to verify. But somehow on a Toyota it’s magically “normal” for a car to never reach operating temperature, and not worthy of even cursory investigation. At two different dealers.

        2. I fully agree with the premise that Toyota is the most undeservedly successful auto manufacturer out there. By that I mean that they earned a reputation for innovation and reliability throughout the 80s…and in the 90s, they stopped trying. Since then, they have coasted on their reputation, releasing boring appliances that are rarely updated and are never best-in-class.*

          Oh, and they’re not appreciably more reliable. Sure, they are frequently on top of certain reliability charts, but even if you take those at face value, the next 5 most reliable makes are within a rounding error of Toyota. But I also think that a great deal of their sterling reputation in the USA was gained thanks to the confirmation bias-affirming surveys arranged by Consumer Reports.

          *The Prius may be the exception here, since it is by far the most interesting car Toyota has made in the last 25 years, at least in terms of engineering excellence.

      2. Thanks for posting the real answer.

        rootwyrm has misinformation in his post that deserved correcting. Lots of early news reports among the ICE enthusiast community also had it wrong, exaggerating it to say “wheels falling off”, but this claim of “hubs falling off” is a whole new level of incorrect.

        Or maybe he has information that nobody else has about the hubs themselves falling off?

  12. So, high-priced, high-margin Lexuses will lead the EV charge for Toyota? Surprise, Surprise. Just keep those peppy plug-ins coming on the lower end, please!

    1. this is basically the way all tech or trends happen. I think even airbags were the things of luxury cars in the 70’s but it took years for the tech to become cheap enough and NHTSA to force it enough for everything to get them. then of course Takata screwed the pooch on that and now we all wonder if the accident itself or shards of air bag will kill us,

  13. I often wonder why people crap on the idea of EVs because they are not identical in convenience to ICE cars today. every technology need to start someplace and we have had massive gov subsidies in ICE technology and infrastructure for 130+ years. Preventing any technology until it is perfect seems short-sighted.

    1. I like your choice of words: identical, rather than equal. I have heard a lot of people talk about charging time without considering the amount of time saved by charging at home. It’s not the same for everyone, but my usage would actually have about the same time at the charger as at the pump comparing an Ioniq 5 against something with 35 mpg. (I figured with 12k miles per year, 10k of those commuting or otherwise short-range. Your mileage may literally vary.) I actually have a PHEV, so it’s the most convenient combination of home charging and road trip fueling.

      You end up with two extremes yelling past each other:
      One side says it’s more convenient because you plug in at home and commutes are the primary use of vehicles, while they ignore that there are uses that are significantly more difficult for EVs. These folks also often overstate the environmental impact of going electric because it is far easier for an individual to go electric than for there to be significant improvements in public transit or reductions in the emissions of the private jet crowd.
      The other side looks at EV range and charging time and generally ignores the convenience of home charging, so they end up significantly overstating the problem of charging times. They also tend to overstate the environmental impact of mining for lithium while not accounting for the impact of oil production.

      And because people are arguing against the extremes, it’s difficult for would-be buyers to easily find the information to determine whether it works for them. Combine that with a difficult housing market, which makes it harder for renters to end up buying homes where they can install home charging, and you’re looking at a lot of people holding out for vehicles that aren’t available.

      People wait for massive range, instant charging, solar roofs, and whatever else is potentially coming with future vehicles. We’re always one generation away from the thing that will work better, and people don’t like what’s good enough when they’ll miss out on the better thing just over the horizon.

    2. In my view, the things that are pooping on EVs are thus:
      1) New tech potentially replacing known tech that people are comfortable with.
      2) Gov telling people that it will be EV or public transport or walking in the future. People generally don’t like the Gov dictating freedom of movement.
      3) EV people looking down on ICE driving people for being ICE driving people.

      Most #2 then #3 then #1.

    3. No need for prevention, but the product in question should probably cover everyone’s use case before being mandated?

      If an EV meets your needs, great. Buy one. They don’t meet my needs, so don’t make me buy one.

      1. I think a lot of people are overlooking the fact that “goal” is FAR from “mandate” and every government mandate has loopholes large enough to drive a thing that is very large through. Especially when there are big-money interests pushing hard for those loopholes.

        Straw man arguments are very popular because they’re easy to win. I personally don’t see the infrastructure or raw materials chain being capable of supporting a full transition to BEVs in the next decade. But you have to start somewhere, and if you’re not setting ambitious goals, conservative industries are going to slow-walk the changes to prevent having to spend money on R&D, production infrastructure, labor re-training, supply contracts, and so on.

        I do think that the infrastructure bill spends on charging infrastructure is a good start, but there’s a long way to go to get the holistic, pervasive ecosystem to support low or zero emission transportation systems that we currently have for fossil fuels. We need to be investing in microgrids, BASIC RESEARCH into different battery chemistries and energy storage systems, and then funding research into scaling things to industrial levels. We should be funding multimodal transport systems in urban areas, cracking down on energy company monopolies that discourage green energy or localized production, updating building codes so that people other than homeowners can charge an EV, and SO MANY OTHER THINGS.

        I could rant about this for pages. There are so many structural barriers, philosophical barriers, and financial barriers that need to be overcome that it’s staggering that we’ve managed to make as much progress as we have.

        TL;DR – “government mandate” is a strawman, and the low-carbon transition is a much more complex issue than just producing BEVs that don’t satisfy the maximalists.

        1. California’s mandate is not a “goal” and has the force of law backing it up, so I’m not sure what makes it a strawman in your eyes. Several other states have either signed on to the 2035 ban or intend to, so it’s not simply a matter of hysteria.

          1. I think of “government mandate” on a federal level. Probably because I’m so used to everyone where I live blaming Biden for everything. I also remember California’s last EV mandate and exactly how firm that was. Also, I would be utterly shocked if the CA law didn’t have large loopholes or provisions for them. But I also think that of all the large states, California has the best chance of actually getting the necessary infrastructure in place. I mean, it’s already one of the only two sates in the US that even has a rudimentary hydrogen fueling infrastructure.

      1. In this particular case “pwning the libs” means making sure the impoverished people in one of the most depressed areas of his state don’t get any investment and economic development in that area.

        ..which will somehow ensure those same people will keep voting for him 🙂

    1. It really just comes down to two things:

      1). Owning The Libs (TM)


      2). Sticking it to (insert “other” here-China, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, Muslims, basically just whatever Fox News is frothing at the mouth over that week)

      It’s just sad and embarrassing at this point. There’s no platform, there are no beliefs outside of “the OTHERS must be stopped!”, there’s no emotion other than anger, and it’s a constant pity party of trying to prove how persecuted you are. I personally can’t imagine going through life in a constant state of anger and being fearful of everything and anything that’s outside of my comfort zone but apparently it’s the baseline for huge swaths of this damn country at this point.

  14. Toyota makes the best cars. It’s a shame that Subaru still sucks at lug nuts and studs. Does the electric thing really have lug bolts like most German cars use? (VW/Audi, BMW, Opel, etc)

    Mitsubishi and Nissan need to rebadge Renaults to sell in the US

    Mitsubishi Twizy
    Mitsubishi Zoe
    Mitsubishi Kwid
    Mitsubishi Sandero
    Mitsubishi Lancer (rebadged Megane)

    The RS can the the Evo XI
    The GT can be the new Ralliart
    The Estate would be sold here too

    Mitsubishi Duster
    Mitsubishi Mighty Max (Oroch)
    Mitsubishi Triton/L200
    Mitsubishi Montero (Sport, since the regular Montero was killed off worldwide, but we don’t need to use the Sport name here, just call it Montero)

    Nissan Twingo
    Nissan Sentra
    Nissan Altima
    Nissan Leaf
    Nissan Z (but also offer a ZX with T-tops)
    Nissan GT-R
    Nissan Rogue
    Nissan Pathfinder
    Nissan Patrol
    Nissan Navara
    Nissan Kangoo
    Nissan Trafic
    Nissan Master (could be rebadged as the NV series)

    or maybe the last 3 could be sold as Mitsubishis

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