By Piero Facchin

The top priority of Toyota’s new CEO is to revamp the electric vehicle strategy. Toyota’s new CEO Koji Sato has pledged to “significantly” accelerate the rollout of new EVs as part of his goal to reinvent the world’s largest automaker as a mobility company.

While unveiling a new leadership team on Feb. 13 during a video conference, Sato said the EV offensive would be centred on a next-generation platform, which is expected to arrive around 2026.

The announcement comes as Toyota Motor Corporation is being criticized by investors, environmental activists and electric vehicle enthusiasts for falling behind in the global EV race.

Sato said he is prioritizing a three-pronged strategy after succeeding Akio Toyoda as CEO on April 1. The priorities will be to ramp up the automaker’s EV strategy, strengthen its early Woven-related software initiatives and focus on achieving carbon neutrality in Asia.

That said, Sato pledged that Toyota would stick to the diversified powertrain strategy launched by his predecessor, in which the automaker continues to develop hybrid, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen cars, in addition to further developing electric vehicles.

“I don’t think that one solution can work”, Sato told Automotive News while promising big changes on the electric vehicle front. He noted that the renewed focus on electric vehicles is not in response to increased competition from U.S. and Chinese startups, as well as traditional rivals like General Motors and Volkswagen.

Rather, Toyota sees it as a time to develop a next generation of electric vehicles that will better channel its brand identity and competence as an efficient, low-cost manufacturer. “The competitiveness and cost of BEVs are going to be a very big challenge,” he said.

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