The transition to electric mobility is well underway. This transition is happening much faster than a lot of the big companies expected. In China for example, the plugin vehicle market share was a cool 33% in February. In Germany, another large and important market, the share is now close to 20%, and what was really cool in February was that the Tesla Model Y was only second to the iconic VW Golf on the sales charts. The Golf is now in its 8th generation and it has been reported that it may not get ICE models in its 9th generation. An electric VW Golf could be on the way in future, which would be really great for such an iconic car.
So that’s a traditional giant looking to electrify one of its star models in future and one that already has some all-electric ID models that are doing reasonably well in a number of markets, but is a bit behind the leaders in the EV sector. The leaders in the EV game at the moment are Tesla and BYD.
Another traditional giant, Toyota recently announced that it is stepping up its EV game, which is great for the industry. The more EVs from all possible sources the better! Toyota needs to catch up fast though, as the EV train is really on the move now in big markets around the world. Toyota launched the Toyota bZ4X a while ago and after a slow start including some recalls, the Toyota bZ4X seems to have found its way in Norway. Norway is an important EV market and currently leads the way in terms of market share with about 90% of new vehicle sales being plugin vehicle each month now. In March, the Toyota bZ4X was the second bestselling EV in Norway, selling 1,016 units and only behind the trailblazing Model Y, which sold 7,436 units.
Yesterday, Toyota announced that it will expand its lineup by releasing ten new BEV models by 2026, which would amount to 1.5 million vehicles of annual sales. Toyota adds that this new generation of BEVs “will double driving range by using batteries with far greater efficiency, while also offering designs and driving performance to set hearts racing. We will also transform manufacturing. Drawing on the strengths of our Toyota Production System, we will change the way we work to reduce the number of processes by half. This will entail a shift to more efficient lines, including autonomous inspections and unmanned transport powered by connected technology. We will completely transform the landscape of our production plants. We also aim to achieve carbon neutrality at all of our global plants by 2035. Also, we will overhaul existing supply chains by working with suppliers to procure superior quality parts at lower prices.”
This is great, but perhaps Toyota can look to China to accelerate plans for one of its new models that is launching this month and expand this offering to places like Norway right away. In China, Toyota is releasing a new all-electric sedan, the bZ3. The bZ3 was initially thought to be priced from around $27,500 but is now launching with some very good discounts of close to $3,000, meaning that it will be offered for a short time at around $24,500 or thereabouts. The move to offer this discount could have been motivated by the ongoing “price war “ in the Chinese auto sector.
Last month I wrote an article on how the Toyota bZ3 could be the Corolla that Africa needs. But now with the progress the Toyota BZ4X is making in Norway, it would be a good idea for Toyota to follow that up very quickly with another model, and the bZ3 is probably the most “ready” model they can quickly call upon. The bZ3 is a battery-electric sedan jointly developed for the Chinese market by BYD TOYOTA EV TECHNOLOGY CO., LTD. BTET is a joint venture established by Toyota and BYD Company Ltd. (BYD) and FAW Toyota Motor Co. Ltd. (FAW Toyota). It is produced by and sold through the FAW Toyota dealer network. The Toyota bZ3 has BYD’s revolutionary Blade battery. You can get the bZ3 in two options, a 49.92 kWh pack or a 65.26 kWh pack. These give a CLTC range of about 500 km and 600 km respectively. The bZ3 supports fast charging from 30% to 80% in about 30 mins. It has a rear mounted motor (135 kW and 180 kW options) with peak torque of 303 Nm.
With an estimated annual production capacity of around 200,000 units at the moment for the bZ3, Toyota should have no problems sending some to Norway and then expanding overseas options for this sedan thereafter. BYD knows how to scale EV production very quickly, as we have seen in China, where it has quickly rolled out the BYD ATTO 3/Yuan Plus and has also started to aggressively rollout exports of the ATTO 3 as well as many other EV models. Blade Battery production is also ramping up nicely and BYD’s experience could be valuable to help push any accelerated ramp up. Interestingly, the all-electric Toyota Proace Van is recording significant sales in Norway as well. It is a rebadged version of some of the Stellantis vans.
An accelerated deployment of EVs in several key markets should be a priority now for any automaker and Toyota has the worlds top-selling car, the Corolla’s crown to defend making it even more important for the company. The Corolla is the top selling car of all time, and also topped the charts last year with over 1 million units sold. However, its reign is under serious threat from the Model Y. Elon Musk has often said that he thinks the Model Y will be the top selling car in the world soon.
It is often said attack is the best form of defense, and therefore it would be good for Toyota to unleash the bZ3 now in the global market. Why not rebadge it a Corolla in other markets and move swiftly to defend the crown by increasing the share of BEV units sold under the Toyota stable. Healthy competition is good, and with the competition well ahead at the moment, Toyota could use Norway as a relaunch pad for its BEV era just as many automakers have done in recent times.
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