Wed. Oct 4th, 2023
    Toyota Aims to Catch Up with Electric Vehicle Sales with Innovative Production Methods

    Toyota, the world’s top-selling automaker, is determined to close the gap on electric vehicle (EV) sales with competitors like Tesla. The company plans to combine its decades-old lean manufacturing methods with new technology to increase efficiency and reduce costs in EV production.

    During a recent plant tour in central Japan, Toyota showcased its latest advancements in EV manufacturing. The automaker demonstrated self-propelled assembly lines, massive die casting, and even hand polishing techniques. One notable example of thrifty ingenuity was a method to create high-gloss bumpers without the use of paint. Instead, the mold is hand polished to a mirror finish, giving the bumper its shine.

    Toyota has also implemented automation and robotics, improving the productivity of three-decade-old equipment used to process parts. These enhancements have tripled equipment productivity and allowed for night and weekend operations.

    Chief Product Officer Kazuaki Shingo emphasized Toyota’s engineering and technology expertise rooted in the Toyota Production System (TPS). The TPS revolutionized manufacturing by introducing lean production, just-in-time delivery, and efficient workflow organization.

    While Toyota’s approach helped establish its prominence in the automotive industry, it has struggled in the EV market. In 2022, the company accounted for only 0.3% of global EV sales. However, under the leadership of new CEO Koji Sato, Toyota has committed to ramping up its EV production.

    To address the challenges in transitioning to EVs, Toyota is focusing on innovations such as self-propelled assembly lines and gigacasting—a die-casting technology that produces larger aluminum parts. The automaker plans to produce EVs in modular sections, reducing the number of parts required and boosting productivity.

    Furthermore, Toyota has introduced a self-driving transport robot at its Motomachi plant in Toyota City. This robot significantly reduces the physical burden on truck drivers who typically fetch cars, as it can ferry vehicles across the parking lot.

    In its pursuit to catch up with rivals in the EV market, Toyota is leveraging its expertise in lean manufacturing methods and integrating them with innovative technologies. By implementing these advances, the automaker aims to improve efficiency, increase production volume, and establish a stronger presence in the growing EV sector.

    – David Dolan, Reuters (September 19, 2022)
    – Toyota Press Release (June 2022)