Toyota believes it can catch up in electric vehicles by pairing new manufacturing technologies with its famous lean production principles honed over decades.
The automaker has lagged behind Tesla and others in EV development. But Toyota is now touting innovations like self-guided “autonomous” assembly lines to remove conveyor costs and enable manufacturing flexibility.
Toyota is also adopting Tesla-pioneered “gigacasting” to produce large aluminum parts faster. By rapidly swapping molds, Toyota claims it can boost productivity 20% in die-casting.
As Toyota President Akio Toyoda acknowledged, the company’s failure to innovate left it behind in EVs initially. But by augmenting proven lean methods with emerging tech, Toyota aims to reclaim lost ground.
The blend of new innovations like “gigacasting” with lean efficiencies could prove a powerful combination. As Tesla has shown, “gigacasting” slashes manufacturing costs while accelerating production. Applying lean principles could enhance the benefits.
Toyota was once the industry leader in efficient manufacturing. Now in the EV era, the company is hoping to leverage its traditional strengths to stage a comeback against younger rivals.
By acknowledging past stumbles and actively learning from EV disruptors like Tesla, Toyota’s prospects look brighter. The company that perfected lean production may have more lessons to teach as the auto industry enters a new phase.