Toyota lists multiple moves, including renaming its R&D base in China, consolidating R&D resources at three joint ventures, and betting on autonomous driving technology.
(A Toyota electric concept car on display during the April 2023 Shanghai auto show. Image credit: CnEVPost)
Toyota is consolidating its R&D resources in China to increase its bet on electric vehicles (EVs), at a time when Japanese carmakers are generally lagging behind in the world's largest EV market.
As China's EV market continues to expand, Toyota has decided to further intensify local research and development of smart, electric technologies to offer competitive products to Chinese customers, the company announced in a press release today.
Toyota listed several initiatives, including renaming its R&D bases in China, integrating R&D resources from joint ventures, and betting on autonomous driving technology.
Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing (China) Co Ltd (TMEC), Toyota's largest R&D base in China, will be officially renamed Intelligent ElectroMobility R&D Center by Toyota (China) Co Ltd (IEM by Toyota) on August 1.
Engineers from the R&D centers of Toyota's three joint ventures in China -- FAW Toyota, GAC Toyota and BYD Toyota -- will join the IEM by Toyota-led R&D programs, the automaker said.
Toyota will intensify local R&D of EVs, including battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), and fuel cell vehicles (FCEVs), it said.
In addition, Denso, the supplier with which Toyota works most closely, and Toyota subsidiary Aisin will also participate in IEM by Toyota's R&D activities to accelerate the development of electric powertrains, Toyota said.
The company will also accelerate the design, research and development of smart cockpits for better user experience, as well as self-driving technologies and advanced safety technologies that are more in line with China's road conditions, it said.
Toyota will expand local suppliers, improve component designs, and reform production technologies and manufacturing processes to achieve significant reductions in manufacturing costs, the automaker said.
Below is the IEM by Toyota facility headquartered in Changshu, Jiangsu province in eastern China, which was included in Toyota's press release.
China's automobile market is growing at an unprecedented pace, and Toyota will make every effort in the Chinese market to rapidly develop and deliver products that satisfy Chinese customers and are competitive by promoting local R&D centered on IEM by Toyota, Tatsuro Ueda, Toyota's CEO in charge of the China region, said.
The results of R&D and lessons learned in China will be utilized not only in the Chinese market, but also in the global market, Ueda said.
This is Toyota's latest move in China, as Japanese carmakers fall behind in the country's fast-growing EV market.
GAC Toyota has terminated the contracts of about 1,000 dispatched workers early and offered them compensation, Reuters said in a report last week.
In a response to local media outlet Shanghai Securities News, GAC Toyota said the move was made in light of the current situation because of fierce competition in the market.
In the first half of the year, GAC Toyota's retail sales were 429,662 units, down 5.2 percent from the same period last year, according to the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA).
FAW Toyota sold 368,283 vehicles in the first half of the year, up 4.8 percent from a year earlier.
China's retail auto sales in the first half of the year were 9.53 million units, up 2.93 percent year-on-year. A total of 3.09 million new energy vehicles (NEVs) were sold in the first half of the year, up 37.58 percent year-on-year.