Toyota may debut EV production in the US by 2025 as CEO accelerates pace

The Japanese automaker may begin producing electric SUVs in the US in two years.
22 February 2023

Toyota may debut EV production in the US by 2025 as new CEO accelerates pace on EVs (Photo by Brandon Bell / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

  • Toyota is looking to achieve an output of over 10,000 EVs monthly by 2026.
  • Toyota may announce plans to build an EV assembly facility in Kentucky, US.
  • The company also aims to sell about one million EVs globally by 2026.

Toyota is long known for its hybrid vehicles and its cautiousness in investing in fully electric vehicles (EVs). Until 2021, the Japanese automaker made little to no progress on its intention to build EVs even as the global auto industry transitions to a battery-powered future

Then finally, in April 2021, Toyota announced an EV strategy, and it started with a goal of 15 new battery EVs (BEVs) by 2025.

By December 2021, Toyota, one of the world’s largest automakers, revamped its EV strategy and shared its plans to invest 4 trillion yen (US$35 billion) to build a full lineup of 30 battery-powered EVs by 2030. It aims to increase global battery EV sales by 3.5 million units annually by the decade’s end. The target was a 75% expansion on its previous goal of two million.

But those aspirations were set during Toyota’s era under the helm of CEO Akio Toyoda. In January this year, the company announced that Toyoda would step down as president and chief executive to become chairman from April 1. Japan’s biggest automaker would be led by the company’s top branding officer, Koji Sato. One of Sato’s earliest orders of business was pledging to reform the company’s EV strategy too “drastically.”

Toyota's new CEO, Koji Sato.

Toyota’s new CEO, Koji Sato
Source: AFP

Sato’s move came when Toyota was criticized by investors, environmental activists, and EV enthusiasts for falling behind in the global EV race. Therefore, he aims to accelerate the rollout of new EVs to reinvent the world’s largest automaker as a mobility company.

Sato said he is prioritizing a three-pronged strategy after he takes over from Akio Toyoda as CEO on April 1. The priorities will be to ramp up the carmaker’s EV strategy, strengthen its Woven-related software-first initiatives, and focus on achieving carbon neutrality in Asia. “I don’t think a one-size-fits-all solution works,” Sato told Automotive News

He noted that the renewed focus on EVs is not in reaction to increased competition from US and Chinese start-ups, but traditional rivals like General Motors and Volkswagen. Sato’s top priority is to rethink Toyota’s electric battery product plans. “The first is business reform starting with next-generation BEV. To deliver attractive BEVs to more customers, we must streamline the car’s structure, and with a BEV-first mindset, we must drastically change how we do business,” he said.

Toyota and its plan on EVs and SUVs in the US

According to a report by Nikkei Asia this week, Toyota will begin producing mid-to-large-sized electric sports utility vehicles (SUVs) at its Kentucky plant as early as summer 2025. The report stated that the Japanese automaker is aiming for a monthly output of more than 10,000 by the year’s end.

Nikkei even shared that Toyota aims to sell about 1 million EVs globally by 2026. The company has yet to announce full details because a decision has still to be made as to when EV production would start in the US. Toyota has invested US$3.8 billion in a battery plant in North Carolina that’s expected to become operational in 2025.

After selling a mere 1,220 units of its first electric SUV, the bZ4X, in the US last year, the company could use some help scaling production. After all, as Electrek puts it, producing electric SUVs in the US would allow Toyota to streamline production and get EVs into customers’ hands more quickly while avoiding expensive transport fees. In that case, ramping up EV manufacturing production in the US would be a big step for Toyota.