The disassembly of a Tesla Model Y unit impressed Toyota, causing a tectonic shift in the Japanese
Toyota has recently begun the development of a new platform dedicated exclusively to electric cars. An architecture destined to replace the current e-TNGA. Now, according to reports, one of the reasons for the rapid turnaround is that Toyota CEO Koji Sato, along with other Toyota executives, was impressed after taking apart and analyzing a Tesla Model Y.
Interestingly, Tesla bought the Fremont factory from Toyota in 2010. The terms of the sale made Toyota a Tesla shareholder with no less than 3% of Tesla for just 50 million dollars. A bargain gave the evolution of the value of the manufacturer from Palo Alto that has reported very important capital gains to Toyota. A 3% that today would go from 50 million to 19,500 million dollars.
The Japanese used this deal to develop the second-generation electric RAV4 in 2011, which used Tesla components, and only 2,500 units were built. The minimum required by the California Air Law at the time.
We all wonder what would have happened if Toyota had kept its stake in Tesla and deepened the partnership. No doubt the story would possibly have been very different. Still, Toyota sold its stake in Tesla in 2017 and pursued its own electric vehicle projects, culminating in the 2022 launch of the bZ4X.
A model that has not managed to shine as expected for different reasons. But there is a basic one such as the use of a platform that despite being called e-TNGA among them, the TNGA was the same as the one used by the combustion models. The result is a model that has failed to offer great results in terms of efficiency or fast charging speed.
That is rumored to have led the board of directors to move the chair of the previous president,
Akio Toyoda will leave his position this coming April 1. An output that has left a fairly clear message from Toyoda himself: “The new team can do what I cannot do. Now I need to step back to allow young people to enter the new chapter of what the future of mobility should look like.”
New CEO Koji Sato will take over in a few weeks and has already hinted at a change in strategy. While Sato pledged to continue developing hybrid and hydrogen powertrains, he also spoke of a review of Toyota’s future plans. A new journey where electric cars will be the most urgent matter.
One of the first signs of change came at the end of January when Toyota announced that it was working on a new platform developed exclusively for electric cars. A new architecture that will not be ready until 2026.
The disassembly of a Tesla Model Y by Toyota has changed everything
The question is what has caused these tectonic movements in such a large and traditional manufacturer, which, let us not forget, is the world’s leading manufacturer by the number of sales. Something that should not mean a change of its president.
According to the Automotive News portal, Toyota decided to develop the new architecture after engineers and executives witnessed the disassembly of a Tesla Model Y. The American electrician impressed Toyota’s staff, causing a change in the Japanese company’s strategy.
Although the Model Y on the outside looks the same as the one seen during its launch, inside it has undergone quite profound changes. The exploded view showed that Toyota’s manufacturing capabilities in terms of electrical systems were far behind Tesla’s. And this is despite its experience in electrification, which dates back to the first hybrid Prius in 1997.
One of the keys to it all is the enormous simplification that Tesla has achieved. The use of mega-press systems has allowed the elimination of hundreds of parts that were no longer necessary. Added to this is the use of a structural battery which also contributed to the overall efficiency.
According to Toyota estimates, Tesla reduced the weight of the assembly by up to 100 kg with this technique, while improving the efficiency of the process and reducing the cost of manufacturing. Something that definitely convinced Toyota executives of the urgent need to terminate the e-TNGA platform prematurely and make way for a new architecture designed from scratch.
The main problem is time. And it is that no one doubts that Toyota has enough money and capabilities to equal or surpass Tesla. But this time is of the essence and not only because of the competition from the Americans, but also because of the brilliant rise of Chinese brands. Some groups with enormous economic and technological resources have even begun to enter Japan. Something significant.
But in addition, Toyota lacks another essential ingredient: mentality. The nip ones need a cultural change to be able to engage in this new era of the automobile that leaves behind conservatism and pragmatism, to compete with groups that are more like manufacturers of mobiles than cars, with constant launches and updates.