When Tesla overturns and smashes the old rules of the automobile industry, the final dignity of the traditional fuel vehicle manufacturers, if GM and Volkswagen can not hold on, then Toyota must fulfill this responsibility.
If three or four years ago Forbes / fortune’s ranking of auto companies was still based on Toyota and Volkswagen PK, the focus of today’s struggle would be quite different. Just like that indicator – the market value of automobile manufacturers, although Volkswagen is less than half of that of Toyota in recent years, it once reached a record of $600 billion in 2005 when it fought with Porsche through speculation – now, the market competition has become a contest between Toyota and that barbarian outside the door.
Tesla, finally in 2020, has become the first in the automotive industry in terms of market value, and has broken the $200 billion mark. Fans of fuel vehicles may still insist that “long and short” reduces the value of the market and the gold content of the stock price, but after all, the indicators are linked to the growth of the enterprise, the follow-up growth expectations of the traditional automobile enterprises, and their achievements in the pure electric field, are they really inferior to Tesla?
In addition to its blind expansion more than a decade ago, Toyota has always acted in a quiet and steady way. Electrification, even in the field of pure electric vehicles, is no exception.
In “Toyota, the arrow has left the string”, we describe Toyota’s pure electric business after three years of incubation, to the “see the dragon in the field” power stage. In June last year, Toyota launched its electrification strategy at the foot of the ferris wheel in Palette Town, Qinghai Province, Tokyo, which made the world see “radical Toyota” for the first time in ten years. After that, it launched an explanation at the Tokyo auto show and exhibited practical models at the Expo for the first time. Finally, “Toyota pure electric vehicle” wants to get in close contact with terminal consumers.
As a result, the theme of the 7th Toyota technology space makes people see that the traditional car companies still need to rely on the orderly and slow way to stop Tesla.
Is it an electric car or Toyota?
If we look back on the shocking electrification strategy of Toyota last year, most people in the industry will rub their eyes and wonder if they are wrong – will Toyota be so radical?
Comparison of new and old electrification targets of Toyota
As early as 2017, Toyota planned to sell more than 5.5 million electric vehicles annually by 2030 and zero CO2 emission by 2050. The new target of 2019 will advance the sales target of more than 5.5 million electric vehicles in 2030 to 2025. Among them, the sales of HEV and PHEV will be more than 4.5 million, while the sales of EV and FCEV will be more than 1 million.
Since the annual sales volume of Toyota’s hybrid electric vehicles in 2012 broke through the one million mark, the global sales volume of Toyota’s electrified vehicles in 2018 exceeded 1.6 million, and by the middle of 2020, it has accumulated more than 15 million. The results of Toyota’s electrification are really remarkable, but that goal is too radical, and how feasible is it?
I once made a conversion: according to the old plan, the annual sales volume will reach 5.5 million vehicles by 2030, with an average compound year-on-year growth rate of 10.8%; Under the new target, an annual growth of 19.3% is required, almost doubling. Reviewing the growth curve of Toyota’s electric vehicle sales, in addition to nearly doubling in 2012 due to the policy environment and model changes, the growth rates of Toyota’s hybrid electric vehicle sales from 2013 to 2017 were 5%, – 1%, – 5%, – 16% and 8% respectively. It can be seen that 5% to 10% belong to the normal, but with a high speed of 20%, it is difficult to imagine.
In 2018, Toyota’s global car sales increased by 2.0% year on year to 10.594 million vehicles. Around 2025, Toyota’s global car sales will reach about 13-14 million vehicles. 5.5 million vehicles means that 40% of the vehicles are electrified, and the EV and FCEV with pure electric drive account for about 7-8%. In other words, six years from now, two out of every five new cars sold by Toyota will be electrified, and one out of every 12 will be pure electric.
But Toyota’s stability and conservatism will not change.
By summarizing all the information of last year’s Tokyo auto show, Jinyi Expo and this year’s technology space exhibition, and even related to the previous Toyota technology publicity, it is not difficult to find that under the “radical” appearance of Toyota, it is still the Toyota that pursues accumulation and development.
“Toyota’s EV technology is based on the mature HEV technology”, which is the emphasis on the technical route; It’s the stability of business model to partner with many vehicle enterprises and suppliers“ Lexus ux200e, first of all, is a “Lexus”, which is cautious in terms of communication caliber and concept inculcation.
In the rhythm of Toyota’s pure electric products landing, safety is still the best: Japan’s first pure electric product is ultra compact, which can be regarded as the electric version of K-car; The introduction of pure electric vehicles in China is led by c-hr / Yize EV and Lexus ux200e. On the one hand, the positioning of these models is younger, and the new generation of consumers are more likely to accept pure electric vehicles. On the other hand, new designs and new technologies are more likely to be incorporated into brand-new models. In the worst case, these new cars can withstand the test of market failure. After all, there are Carola and Lexus Camry, Rongfang and other mature big brothers are holding the position.
On the technical level, Toyota has wisely linked HEV and ev technology. Although there are very obvious differences in specifications, they all belong to the category of electrification, so versatility is used to the extreme.
From the 1990s to 2000, Toyota defined it as the cognitive period of hybrid electric vehicle (HEV). Toyota power control unit (PCU) pioneered the temperature sensor built-in IGBT, but the power density was low. The volume per KVA was 17.4l, and the battery transited from cylindrical Ni MH to square; Then, the second generation technology in the expansion period, and the three power companies continue to upgrade comprehensively; In the formal popularization period around 2010, the battery adopts brushless motor, and the motor speed doubles to 13500rpm; During the whole vehicle series promotion period around 2015, not only the power density of PCU reached 2.5 times of that of the first generation, but also the battery entered the lithium ion development stage. The motor speed was 17000rpm, and the volume was reduced from 5.1l of the first generation to 2.2L.
During a previous visit to Toyota Motor R & D Center (China) Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “TMEC”) in Changshu, the technical personnel told “Daiichi Motors” that several new energy vehicle models have great generality in terms of electric motor control. “Based on HEV, take off the gasoline engine assembly and enlarge the battery motor, that is ev; If the HEV battery motor is amplified, and the gasoline engine is connected to the battery, it can be charged, it is PHEV; It is FCEV to replace gasoline engine with hydrogen fuel cell to charge battery In other words, in the era of vigorously attacking HEV, Toyota missed part of the EV market, but the technical level has virtually paved the way for the follow-up efforts, connecting several technical routes from the road “line” to the “surface”.
Toyota’s electrification technology route
When Tesla puts more emphasis on “novel experience” and takes the lead in presenting automatic driving and OTA to consumers, trying to build “apple in the car”, what is Toyota emphasizing? From the point of view of this technical space propaganda, we still follow the concept of “Toyota can’t drive bad”, that is, reliability and durability, but there is a new dimension in the era of electrification – 100% battery capacity maintenance rate.
According to an Shanghong, senior executive deputy general manager of TMEC, Toyota has reached the world’s top level in terms of technologies such as effective inhibition of battery aging through optimization of battery materials, packaging structure and braking system. The 100% battery capacity maintenance rate is measured by the range from new cars to ten years of driving and electric vehicles, Obviously, from the first generation Prius PHEV to the second generation Prius PHEV, and then to the c-hr / Ezer EV and Lexus ux200e, the battery decay rate is decreasing, and the endurance retention ability has been significantly improved.
If you only look at ashanghong’s PPT, you may feel that “there are no quantitative indicators at all.”. Don’t worry. Toyoshima Haoer, who was the chief engineer of Prius in 2019 and later took charge of the pure electric business, once revealed a figure: Toyota’s goal is to maintain 90% of the vehicle battery life after 10 years, so as to promote the preservation of the value of new cars, because in Toyota’s view, the brand image of Toyota is closely related to labels such as “high quality” and “durability”, For the company, it is not a good thing if the value of a pure electric car shrinks soon after it is sold.
The essence of Toyota is still to operate the electric vehicle business with the ancient oriental philosophy. It’s the Toyota that puts “reliable” in the first place. Yes, even if it puts on the electric coat and radical hat.
The choice between fast and slow
The three symmetrical concepts of the West and the East, the extreme and the equilibrium, the fast and the slow, run through history, society and commerce with the unity of opposites of philosophy.
If we say that in the automotive industry, Volkswagen and Tesla respectively use western thinking in the field of fuel vehicles and electrification to “achieve the best”, then Toyota is integrating Oriental philosophy into the operation of the automotive industry, pursuing balance and stability, and has not changed from the era of fuel vehicles to the stage of electrification. Therefore, Toyota PK Tesla, at its root, is a struggle between eastern and Western philosophies. However, the representative of the West has changed from GM and Volkswagen in the era of fuel vehicles to Tesla, just as the symbol of American manufacturing industry has changed from steel automobile to ICT, and the holy land has changed from Detroit to Silicon Valley.
Compared with Tesla, Toyota is obviously too slow and conservative.
In the product promotion and test drive of technical space, Toyota has been emphasizing battery reliability, suspension performance (curve roll, etc.). This is obviously a combination of advantages and disadvantages. It can better “please” the current fans of fuel vehicles and facilitate the transition of consumers’ use habits, but it may also lose some opportunities. The mileage label and the conservative car engine, but also exposed Toyota’s shortcomings.
Looking back at the pure electric vehicle products in the Chinese market, “super long driving range” is the focus of most enterprises. After all, consumers can not completely get rid of the driving anxiety. Just like Xiaopeng’s P7 has reached 705km endurance, and I do feel in the process of experience that with the air conditioner on, every 1km decrease in the “remaining mileage” on the screen, the actual mileage on the map is more than 1km. Toyota’s first batch of practical pure electric vehicles are too conservative in this respect. The 400 km long driving range was good-looking a few years ago, but now it’s really not bright.
I understand why Toyota emphasizes “100% battery capacity maintenance rate” and reliability and durability rather than super long driving range and novel man-machine interface. After all, Toyota’s precious word-of-mouth heritage is reliability and durability. It is used to enjoying such word-of-mouth bonus and brand potential.
However, in this era, more and more attention is paid to the flow, speed, and attraction. If you are too sincere, you will miss some opportunities. Just as in the era of fuel vehicles, product configuration strategies tend to pile up some “flagship models”, with high performance and price. In fact, there are few buyers, but they can be used to show the market: I have such powerful technology, I can provide such advanced models. Therefore, Toyota might as well try to build a model like “super endurance flagship model” and make a gimmick with 600-700 km endurance.
Of course, Toyota is also trying to “switch to the fast track”, but it still focuses on the company structure and business model, and the business closer to the terminal is still slightly “too slow”. This is also reasonable. Before speeding up the pace, we need to consolidate the foundation and cultivate the yuan. Just as Zhuge Kongming mentioned before the war of tongues among scholars in the eastern Wu Dynasty, we should use meat porridge to make up our body before taking strong medicine. Toyota’s emphasis on the pure electric business started from the business model and entered a fast pace, rather than simply urging the product department to promote the landing of new cars.
In 2016, Toyoma Haoer was selected as the leader of pure electric vehicle business by Toyoda Zhangnan. At the beginning, it was almost at the end of Qingping. The investment in seed stage was only 960 million yen (equivalent to 8.9 million US dollars), and the team had only four people. Until 2019, when the product development entered the critical period, the core team had only 350 people, and less than half of the employees came from Toyota, The remaining members are from the companies they work with.
However, small has small advantages, green has the advantage of green. That is, similar to start-ups, they get rid of the shortcomings and cumbersome processes of giant companies, and can make decisions and respond to changes faster. Toyoda hopes to use the speed and creativity of the start-up company to inject vitality into new business units such as electrification, which also means building a new structure outside Toyota’s traditional Byzantine bureaucracy. The end result is to create a more streamlined, efficient and flat development process.
This is a complete transformation for Toyota. Toyota has always been used to bureaucratic review. The normal decision-making process of major issues requires 10 signatures, including Toyoda Zhangnan himself. The pure electric vehicle business only needs three signatures: project leader, Toyoshima Haoer and Toyota executive vice president Sishi maoshu. In order to speed up the development efficiency, Toyota not only provides more space and opportunities for the technical department, but also breaks through the limitations of the old fixed thinking in the design field, so that the team imagination can be brought into full play.
Fast and slow, there is a paradox in the choice, also have both. When Tesla is on its way, the trend of pure electric is inevitable. Traditional automobile manufacturers not only need to defend the current position and transition stage, but also have to carry a heavier historical burden to race against the light-weight Tesla.
How to blend fast and slow? How to deal with the impact of Tesla and electrification trend? Toyota handed in its answer sheet. We can’t brag that it’s a full mark test paper out of the habit of gasoline car fans, but at least in the dilemma of persistence and innovation, we can see the hope and possibility more clearly.
Editor in charge: PJ