Toyota received a Tesla shock when Model Y outsold Corolla: report

Dietmar Rabich / Wikimedia Commons / “Dülmen, Auto Bertels, Toyota GR Supra -- 2021 -- 9563” / CC BY-SA 4.0

Toyota was arguably the carmaker that truly brought the idea of lean car manufacturing to the automotive industry. But with the electric vehicle revolution leaving Toyota behind, the automaker now has to adapt to catch up to industry leaders like Tesla, which has come up with a legitimate formula to produce electric vehicles efficiently and profitably. 

Tesla is an automaker that adopts out-of-the-box solutions, both in its factories and in the designs of its vehicles. Thanks to its unorthodox strategies, Tesla has effectively beaten Toyota at its own game. This is about to change, according to Yoshio Nakamura, Toyota’s deputy chief of global production.


In an interview with Automotive News, Nakamura admitted that Tesla’s technology is admirable. And it is this very edge that motivates Toyota to work even harder. He also stated that if Toyota would be learning from Tesla, the innovations that would be adopted by the veteran automaker would not be a complete copy.

“Of course, we admit Tesla has wonderful technology. But that just motivates us to work harder to catch up. If we are to learn from them, it won’t be a copy. We will improve upon them through kaizen,” Nakamura said. 

What is quite interesting is that it is younger automakers today that are changing the face of the industry. Tesla has highlighted this with the success of the Model 3 and Model Y, both of which are selling at scale and at a healthy profit. One of the reasons why younger automakers are able to do this is because they are free of the weight of legacy technologies and supply chains.

This trend could be described as a “Tesla shock” of sorts. And as per an insider to the publication, Toyota was perhaps the automaker that was shocked the most, particularly when the Tesla Model Y crossover outsold the ubiquitous Toyota Corolla as the world’s best-selling car in the first quarter. “That was a big blow that really started tipping things,” the insider told the publication. 

So far, much of Toyota’s electric vehicle strategy is still yet to be proven. The company’s last EV effort, which brought the bZ4x to market, could be considered a failure. The company’s revamped strategy for electric vehicles, which was outlined recently, is then understandable. Sandy Munro, CEO of Munro & Associates in Michigan, has stated that many of Toyota’s new production ideas actually mirror those of Tesla. 

These include a focus on vertical integration, as well as the implementation of innovations such as gigacastings and the mass deployment of robots on the factory floor. “The Toyota plan that I see is very similar to the Tesla production plan, and that is good because, currently, that’s the best in the marketplace. Toyota needs to also look outside for contrary points of view on how to run the company,” Munro said. 

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Toyota received a Tesla shock when Model Y outsold Corolla: report
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