Tesla recently received some subtle shade from Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda, who noted that while the American EV maker is leading the auto segment in market value, it would be a mistake to underestimate the fact that the Japanese veteran has built over 100 million cars over the decades. Toyoda’s statement stands as a rare instance when the CEO issued direct comments about a competitor.
During an online briefing on Friday, the CEO stated that Toyota is indeed losing to Tesla when it comes to share price and market cap. However, the executive argued that Tesla still has a long way to go before it could rival Toyota’s scale and experience. Interestingly enough, Toyota used an analogy to emphasize his point.
“Tesla says that their recipe will be the standard in the future, but what Toyota has is a real kitchen and a real chef. We are losing when it comes to the share price, but when it comes to products, we have a full menu that will be chosen by customers,” he said, as per a report from Automotive News Europe.
Prior to Tesla’s meteoric rise, Toyota stood at the top of the automotive market with its hyper-efficient operations and vehicles that are famed for their reliability. This status quo changed in July, when Tesla overtook Toyota to become the world’s most valuable automaker by market cap. The electric car maker has largely maintained this momentum, and it now stands far above the Japanese veteran in valuation.
Despite this, Toyoda explained that Toyota has built a formidable brand over the decades by offering affordable and reliable vehicles that could be produced in mass numbers. Thus, the executive remarked that he sees Toyota’s “picky customers” staying with the company’s tried and tested vehicles. And this, according to the executive is a difference-maker.
“They aren’t really making something that’s real, people are just buying the recipe. We have the kitchen and chef, and we make real food,” Toyoda said.
That being said, there is no denying that Toyota is lagging behind the industry when it comes to the shift to electric vehicles. Despite Toyota being an investor in Tesla during the EV maker’s early days, the Japanese automaker’s electric vehicle program has been uninspired at best. Campaigns such as its infamous “self-charging hybrid” ads, which promote gas-powered vehicles like the Prius, further add doubt about the company’s dedication to the EV shift.
Ultimately, what is really a bit questionable about Toyoda’s recent statements was his analogy itself. Some of the world’s best restaurants, after all, establish their reputation with a small menu filled with offerings that are great enough to attract a steady stream of patrons. With this in mind, perhaps Toyota should pay more attention to Tesla’s short menu for now, since every vehicle in the company’s lineup today, and in the near future, has the potential to be a disruptor on their own.