Toyota is making efforts to close the gap with industry leader Tesla in the electric vehicle (EV) market. With a keen eye on the accelerating shift towards electric mobility, Toyota is offering a glimpse into its next-generation EV production line, incorporating cutting-edge technologies such as Giga casting, self-propelled assembly lines, and advanced robotic systems for transporting finished vehicles.
The context of this development is the rapidly growing EV market, which has seen exponential growth in recent years. According to data from CounterPoint Research, global EV sales are expected to exceed a staggering 14.5 million units by the end of 2023, and the second quarter of that year alone witnessed the sale of over 2.15 million EVs. Traditional automakers and startups alike are vying for a foothold in this new era of electric vehicles, with Tesla maintaining its leadership position by delivering 466,000 EVs in the second quarter. Meanwhile, China’s BYD has been rapidly closing in with 352,000 passenger EV sales. In contrast, Toyota, a global automotive giant, sold only a small fraction, around 0.19%, of fully electric vehicles out of the 4.15 million vehicles it sold worldwide in the first half of the year.
Recognizing the urgency of the transition to electric mobility, Toyota, along with other legacy automakers like Honda and Nissan, has recently announced plans to accelerate its electrification strategies. To this end, Toyota has offered automotive enthusiasts a glimpse of its forthcoming next-generation EV production line, shedding light on its innovative technologies and methodologies.
One of the standout features of Toyota’s EV production line is its Giga casting technology, a process pioneered by Tesla at its Fremont factory in 2020. Giga casting involves the production of larger aluminum parts, which not only simplifies manufacturing complexity but also conserves critical resources. This approach has enabled Tesla to reduce costs by approximately 30%. Toyota, leveraging its extensive experience in molds, has managed to develop a system for quick mold replacements, reducing the lead time for changing molds from 24 hours to just 20 minutes. Additionally, Toyota will employ proprietary analysis technology to enhance casting quality and minimize the number of defective parts.
In a bid to streamline production further, Toyota has implemented self-propelled EV production lines. Drawing upon sensor technology used in autonomous driving, these self-propelled lines facilitate significant movement at low speeds, reducing the reliance on conveyor equipment, a cost-intensive aspect of manufacturing. Toyota has also introduced a three-part modular structure for EV assembly, featuring front, center, and rear sections. This modular design not only enhances work efficiency but also contributes to reducing overall production complexity.
In addition to these manufacturing innovations, Toyota has unveiled an ambitious EV battery roadmap. This roadmap includes plans to launch new EVs with a remarkable range of nearly 500 miles (800 km) in 2026, a clear indication of the company’s determination to compete at the forefront of the evolving EV landscape. Toyota’s commitment to innovation and its focus on sustainable mobility solutions position it as a formidable contender in the race to electrify the automotive industry, aiming to bridge the gap with established leaders like Tesla.