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Toyota Will Lean on Lexus to 'Accelerate' Its Electric Vehicle Plan

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It looks like Lexus is going to play a big role in Toyota's plans for EVs. Toyota CEO Koji Sato said in a recent interview that Lexus will be used to push their latest EV technology.

1st Gear: It’s About Communication
Upon assuming the post, Toyota’s new CEO Koji Sato inherited — among other things — an electrification strategy criticized as slow and unambitious by most. Sato provided a little more background on those plans during a Monday briefing, announcing that the company will use Lexus to push its newest technologies and processes in the battery-electric realm. From Automotive News:

“The first is business reform starting with next-generation BEVs,” Sato said. “To deliver attractive BEVs to more customers, we must streamline the structure of the car and with a BEV-first mindset, we must drastically change the way we do business.”
Sato said more details will likely be announced in April after he takes office.
But the overhaul, he said, will lead off with Lexus, which already has a brand goal of going fully electric worldwide by 2035 and selling 1 million EVs globally in 2030. [...]
“It is inevitable to streamline and reform the manufacturing process,” Sato said.
The EV overhaul will focus on new engineering and new manufacturing for the vehicles in an attempt to give them a uniquely Toyota-brand character as well as make the cost competitive.
Thermal management, electricity management and aerodynamics are all areas of study.
“We are trying to find a characteristic unique to Toyota,” Sato said. “We need to go to the next step. We are going to accelerate specific and concrete activities.”
Now, don’t take Sato’s talk of “accelerating” things to mean that Toyota is going to go all-in on EVs. In another portion of the briefing quoted by Reuters, the chief executive said that “to the point that we have been slow at battery EV projects, I think around half of it is a communication issue.”

Top brass still believes hybrids — conventional gas-electric and plug-in — will be relevant for many years to come, and their previous goal to achieve 3.5 million battery-electric sales globally by 2030 has not changed. In case you’re curious, Toyota only moved 24,466 EVs last year. But when Toyota does get moving on pure electric cars in earnest, it’s going to arrive by way of Lexus. Which makes sense, because EVs are expensive and Lexus can offset that to some extent with much higher profit margins.
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