Toyota’s incoming CEO said the automaker would release “next-generation” electric cars under the Lexus brand by 2026. This is just one part of a new strategy in development to overcome problems linked to a slow and expensive EV manufacturing process.
Toyota will also be expanding its current EV lineup, which currently consists of the bZ4X crossover SUV (which required a recall to make sure its wheels don’t fall off) and the Subaru Solterra EV built on top of Toyota’s e-TNGA flexible EV platform. Lexus has yet to release its RZ 450e SUV that’s based on the same platform.
Koji Sato, who is currently the president of Lexus, will replace Akio Toyoda as president and CEO of Toyota on April 1st. During a press conference on Monday, Sato said next-generation battery electric vehicles are the first order of business priority and that the “time is right” to develop EVs under the new team once they take over in April, which is when we should hear more concrete details.
This is coming after years of criticism over Toyota’s slow approach to electric vehicle adoption, resting on its laurels with efficient gas and hybrid cars, and being distracted by the development of hydrogen-powered vehicles. Meanwhile, competitors are already extending purpose-built EV platforms across their product lines, like GM with Ultium.
Sato mentioned Toyota would take an “omnidirectional approach,” suggesting it will continually keep its hybrid business — with vehicles like the now-refreshed Prius — relevant. “We want to stay in tune with customers around the world and provide diverse options,” Sato said.