Sat. Sep 23rd, 2023
    Toyota’s Advances in Battery Electric Vehicle Manufacturing

    Toyota, the world’s top-selling automaker, is employing self-propelled assembly lines, die casting, and hand polishing techniques to make strides in the battery electric vehicle (EV) market. By combining new technology with its renowned lean production methods, Toyota aims to close the gap with industry leader Tesla.

    During a recent plant tour in central Japan, Toyota showcased its latest advances in EV manufacturing. One example of the automaker’s ingenuity is a technique to create high-gloss bumpers without the need for paint. The mold is meticulously hand polished, resulting in a mirror finish that gives the bumper its luster.

    To improve productivity, Toyota has automated three-decade-old equipment using robotics and 3D modeling. This advancement allows the equipment to operate during non-working hours, tripling its productivity. Chief Product Officer Kazuaki Shingo highlighted Toyota’s strength in adapting to changing times, with its engineering and technology expertise rooted in the Toyota Production System (TPS).

    Toyota revolutionized modern manufacturing with its lean production system, just-in-time delivery, and “kanban” workflow organization, which have been adopted across various industries and studied in business schools worldwide. While Toyota’s focus on continuous improvement and cost reduction propelled its growth, it has been outpaced by Tesla in the EV market.

    Under the leadership of CEO Koji Sato, Toyota unveiled an ambitious plan to ramp up its production of battery EVs. With only around 0.3 percent of the global EV market share, Toyota aims to strengthen its offerings. Competing automakers, including Detroit’s Big Three, have also faced challenges in transitioning to EVs and cited Tesla’s competitive pressure.

    One notable innovation emphasized by Toyota is its self-propelled production lines. This technology eliminates the need for conveyor equipment, offering greater flexibility in production. Additionally, Toyota showcased its “gigacasting” technology, allowing for the production of larger aluminum parts. By adopting modular production and improving die-casting processes, Toyota estimates a 20 percent increase in productivity.

    Toyota has also introduced self-driving transport robots at its Motomachi plant, which transport vehicles across a large parking lot, a task previously done by human drivers. This automation reduces physical burden and increases efficiency in the manufacturing process. Toyota aims to have 10 robots operating in Motomachi by next year and may explore selling the technology to other companies.

    In conclusion, Toyota is leveraging its manufacturing expertise and implementing innovative technologies to catch up in the battery EV market. Its focus on efficiency, flexibility, and productivity improvements indicates the automaker’s commitment to becoming a major player in the industry.

    – Article: “Toyota aims to narrow Tesla’s lead in electric vehicles” by Tetsushi Kajimoto, Ritsuko Ando, Joe White, David Evans, and Norimitsu Onishi
    – Goldman Sachs analysis on Toyota’s global EV market share