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"We are behind": Toyota's stunning admission about arch rival - but here's how the Japanese giant plans on levelling the score with the Tesla Model Y and Model 3

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Toyota says its playing catch-up against an rival
Toyota says its playing catch-up against an rival

Toyota has made a stunning admission about an arch rival, admitting "we are behind", before detailing exactly how the Japanese giant plans on catching up.

That rival is Tesla, with Toyota admitting it is behind on battery technology – featured in its first EV, the bZ4X – compared to the units used in the Tesla Model Y and Tesla Model 3.

But it says it is in the process of catching up.

"Of course to compare (Toyota's) battery to Tesla, we are behind. That's true. However, we are catching up, not only the product but also the ecosystem surrounding the BEV area, such as the home charging or energy management," Ted Ogawa, CEO of Toyota Motor North America, told Automotive News.

The Toyota boss went on to detail his brand's plan to catch up, headlined by a US$13.9 billion battery plant under construction in the USA, and – more importantly for Australia – Toyota in Japan's renewed focus on BEV research and development for global demand.

"We are consistent in that we are seeing a merged (hybrid and EV) pathway all the time, but it depends on the customer demand,": he says.

"However, the BEV was our missing piece two years ago, so that's why we were very much criticised – 'Toyota is too slow, has no BEV'.

"But now over these two years, we are building internally. For example, at Toyota Motor Corp, our headquarters, we are building a very exclusive (BEV) factory, exclusive R&D and R&D organisations. This will accelerate the BEV lineup.

"So this is kind of the starting year of the real multi-path way, like the hybrid, which we already have, and then plug-in, something between hybrid and BEV, and then BEV, which it is time to introduce to the market."

Part of Toyota's battery plan is the introduction of solid-state batteries, which the brand hopes to have in markets soon as 2026. The game-changing technology promises a driving range of up to 1200kms, vastly out-performing any battery currently on the market.

"We will be rolling out our electric vehicles with solid state batteries in a couple of years from now," Vikram Gulati, the head of Toyota Kirloskar Motor, told Reuters earlier this year.

"It will be a vehicle which will be charging in 10 minutes, giving a range of 1200kms, and life expectancy will be very good."

Andrew Chesterton
Contributing Journalist
Andrew Chesterton should probably hate cars. From his hail-damaged Camira that looked like it had spent a hard life parked at the end of Tiger Woods' personal driving range, to the Nissan Pulsar Reebok that shook like it was possessed by a particularly mean-spirited demon every time he dared push past 40km/h, his personal car history isn't exactly littered with gold. But that seemingly endless procession of rust-savaged hate machines taught him something even more important; that cars are more than a collection of nuts, bolts and petrol. They're your ticket to freedom, a way to unlock incredible experiences, rolling invitations to incredible adventures. They have soul. And so, somehow, the car bug still bit. And it bit hard. When "Chesto" started his journalism career with News Ltd's Sunday and Daily Telegraph newspapers, he covered just about everything, from business to real estate, courts to crime, before settling into state political reporting at NSW Parliament House. But the automotive world's siren song soon sounded again, and he begged anyone who would listen for the opportunity to write about cars. Eventually they listened, and his career since has seen him filing car news, reviews and features for TopGear, Wheels, Motor and, of course, CarsGuide, as well as many, many others. More than a decade later, and the car bug is yet to relinquish its toothy grip. And if you ask Chesto, he thinks it never will.
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