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Amid new leadership changes, Toyota is reshuffling its business structure, claiming the “time is right” to accelerate battery electric vehicle (BEV) development. Toyota says it will take a new EV-first approach, starting with its luxury brand Lexus.

Last week, Electrek reported Toyota’s longtime CEO Akio Toyoda was stepping down from his position amid mounting pressure to accelerate EV development and keep up in a rapidly changing industry.

The news comes after the 66-year-old grandson to the company’s founder has been one of the most outspoken opponents of going all in on electric vehicles.

Toyoda insisted on sticking with a hybrid approach (including fuel cell, EV, hybrid, and gas vehicles) despite the industry moving forward with zero-emissions EV technology, putting the company on track to rank as one of the world’s most obstructive companies in 2022 with oil industry leaders.

After announcing his departure, Toyoda alluded to the fact that his successor will be tasked with leading the automaker’s transformation as it enters a new mobility era.

Incoming president Koji Sato is set to take the reins on April 1, 2023. Sato addressed the situation, saying Toyota will prove it’s committed to making cars better through “concrete actions and products, such as accelerating the shift to electrification.” He added the timing is now right to accelerate EV development with a new approach.

Toyota will accelerate EV development with new approach

Sato, previously the chief branding officer at Lexus, says he is looking to ramp up Toyota’s EV efforts with a new business structure and approach beginning in April.

In a press release Monday, Toyota announced it would implement several changes to transform the automaker into a mobility company.

First, Toyota will focus on electrification, claiming, “Toyota must create cars with energy security in mind and contribute to achieving a carbon-neutral society.” Sato added:

Now that the time is right, we will accelerate BEV development with a new approach.

Toyota plans to use its luxury brand Lexus to spearhead the approach with a full lineup of fully electric zero-emission vehicles by 2030. In particular, the automaker plans to make EV-specific parts like batteries and a dedicated platform to optimize and help expand its lineup and streamline production.

Lexus just revealed the price of its first EV, the RZ 450e, starting at $59,650 with up to 220-mile range.

Electrek’s Take

After it was announced Sato would take over as president of Toyota, we questioned whether or not he could pull the automaker out of the past and into the modern era.

It seems that’s what he’s trying to achieve with the new EV-first approach. However, Sato still hinted at providing “diverse options” and stood by its “multi-pathway” strategy without getting too specific.

We’ve said it for a while now if Toyota doesn’t turn things around quickly and get on board, they will fall behind as the industry moves forward without them. Many automakers are already achieving double-digit sales (or 100% EV sales) while Toyota’s zero-emissions sales accounted for less than 1% of its total US volume.

Hopefully, Sato can get the new team on board. Otherwise, it will be a long road ahead for Toyota.

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