Toyota today revealed its next-generation battery electric vehicle production line and several new technologies in Japan. The new demonstration line could herald a new era of manufacturing for the Japanese auto giant, as it aims to catch up with its American and European rivals in the EV race.
One of the highlights of the new line is the giga casting technology at its Myochi plant, which the brand announced in June 2023. Giga casting refers to the use of large, single-piece castings for major structural components of a vehicle to reduce weight, improve structural integrity, and streamline the manufacturing process.
Toyota claims to have a “wealth of knowledge” about molds used for low-pressure molding and die casting. The brand has apparently honed casting technologies from engine manufacturing. With giga casting, the lead time for mold change will reportedly reduce from 24 hours to just 20 minutes.
The carmaker will also use a proprietary analysis technology to improve the quality of the castings to reduce the number of defective products. Moreover, Toyota's new modular structure for EVs (pictured below), and self-propelled production will account for half the process and plan investment on the new line at the Motomachi plant in Aichi prefecture.
Toyota BEVs will use a three-part modular structure for the front, center, and rear which apparently "reduces processes and increases productivity." The automaker also highlighted “self-propelled conveyance,” where finished EVs will be guided through the assembly line with sensors at an “extremely low speed” to improve line layout and flexibility.
The brand also released an image of its solid-state battery development line. Toyota appears to be at an advanced stage of solid-state battery development and promised in June 2023 that its breakthrough will lead to a solid-state battery capable of delivering 745 miles range and recharge in just 10 minutes. It aims to bring its solid-state batteries to market by 2027-2028.
Under CEO Koji Sato, Toyota aims to launch 10 new EVs by 2026, with a target of selling 1.5 million EVs annually thereafter. The plan includes a three-row electric SUV that will be assembled in the US, at the brand’s manufacturing plant in Georgetown Kentucky. It is also investing an additional $2.1 billion at its North Carolina battery plant.
Gallery: Toyota Next-Gen Production Line
Even though Toyota continues to be the world's largest carmaker by volumes sold, its BEV sales are only a fraction of Tesla's numbers, and notably less than rivals like Ford and General Motors. It could be a long and arduous journey for the Japanese automaker before it can catch up with its rivals in terms of pure EV sales.