Toyota focuses on localization in China & the US to boost EV production

(Credit: Toyota)

Toyota will focus on developing local production and supply chains in China and the United States to boost electric vehicle sales. 

The new President and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), Koji Sato, revealed the Japanese automaker’s plans in the electric vehicle market (EVs). 

Toyota remained the top-selling automaker in the world for three consecutive years in 2022. However, the rise of battery electric vehicles (BEV) might threaten Toyota’s crown. The Japanese automaker has been a little late in joining the BEV race. This year, though, Toyota appears to have realized the potential of BEVs in the auto industry. 

Earlier this month, TMC announced the launch of 10 new BEVs with a target sales goal of 1.5 million units by 2026. Toyota aims for significant growth in the BEV market. It is a smart move, considering that BEVs might be the future of the whole auto industry. Many countries are choosing to phase out internal combustion engine vehicles and support clean, energy-efficient cars.

Part of Toyota’s strategy for growth includes localization in China and the United States. 

“In areas where there is an acceleration in the shift towards battery EVs, like China and the US, we need to be bold with local production,” said Toyota’s new CEO in a group interview over the weekend.

China’s Place in the BEV Market

The Chinese auto market is the world’s largest vehicle market, making it a prime target for Toyota’s goals. China is vigorously supporting clean energy vehicles, including BEVs and plug-in hybrids. 

Japanese automakers posted the sharpest sales decline in China against foreign brands. The Financial Times attributed Toyota’s sales decline to its slow rollout of BEVs. FAW Toyota and GAC Toyota in China ranked 9th and 10th—respectively—in the China Passenger Car Association’s (CPCA) list of Top 10 Chinese automakers by retail sales. For comparison, Tesla–which only sells BEVs–ranked 7th place.

The CPCA reported Toyota’s 23.5% year-over-year (YoY) decrease in sales in January–including ICE and BEV sales. By February, Toyota reported a decline of 12.2% YoY in sales, with a slight increase of 0.9% year-to-date (YTD). Lastly, in March 2023, Toyota sold 136,400 units in China, down 18.5% YoY. Its sales volume in China by the end of Q1 2023 was 379,900, down by 14.5% YoY. 

The US IRA’s Impact on the BEV Market

The United States has also shown full support for battery electric vehicles, specifically with the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The IRA provides incentives to support BEV production within the United States or any country with a free trade agreement with the US. It also includes tax credits for BEV purchases. 

The IRA has significantly affected the BEV market worldwide since it passed. Many companies outside of the United States have already started working with American companies to build BEV components in the United States. For instance, South Korean battery supplier LG Energy Solutions is working on the construction of battery production facilities in the United States with Ford and Tesla. 

Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) reported saw an uptick in electrified vehicle sales in the first quarter. In March, electric vehicles made up 27.5% of TMNA’s total sales volume. TMNA sold a title of 469,558 vehicles in Q1 2023, down by 8.8% by a volume and daily selling rate (DSR) basis. It sold approximately 118,836 elective vehicles, accounting for 25.3% of total sales volume. 

“With 22 electrified vehicle options between both the Toyota and Lexus brands, the most among any automaker, we’re giving customers a choice that fits their lifestyle, pocketbook and needs,” said Jack Hollis, TMNA’s executive vice president of sales. “We continue to make improvements to our vehicle inventory to satisfy customer demand, while doing all we can to exceed expectations as we introduce more electrified vehicles throughout the balance of 2023.”

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Toyota focuses on localization in China & the US to boost EV production
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