Toyota delivers Tesla-like tech package, with software, for 1/10 of the price, and nobody blinks an eye

Toyota's superstar Satoshi Ogiso arrived by subway

Toyota’s superstar Satoshi Ogiso arrived by subway

Toyota launched a refresh of the JDM version of its bread and butter car, the Corolla, today in Tokyo. Refreshs usually would go by unmentioned at the DailyKanban, would Toyota’s low-end car not come with gadgetry similar to what caused a media storm a few months ago when it was announced for the Tesla Model S electric luxury car.

For the price of three Tesla tech packages, you get a complete Corolla

For the price of three Tesla tech packages, you get a complete Corolla

Just like the latest Model S, the new Corolla can be bought with a forward-looking camera. Just like the Model S, the new Corolla can be bought with forward-looking radar sensor. The Model S can be ordered with a few short range ultrasonic sensors which are helpful only for parking. You can have those in a Corolla as well.

So much for the similarities. Here is what’s different. The new Corolla comes complete with software that makes those sensors work. The sensor package of the Model S, announced last October with great fanfare, still hasn’t any software, and until it does, it is utterly useless. Tesla’s software-less optional tech package costs $4,250. Toyota’s fully functional tech package, which goes by the name Toyota Safety Sense C, is standard with higher grade models. With lower grade models, it can be optioned for 50,000 Japanese yen, or $417. Actually, for the price of three Tesla tech packages, you get a new Corolla. In Japan, the car starts at $12,200, including tax.

Competition for the hybrid

Competition for the hybrid

The JDM Corolla can be had with a gasoline or with a hybrid engine. Interestingly, the gasoline engine was announced as achieving “hybrid-like thermal efficiency.”

The by far biggest hit at today’s reveal was Satoshi Ogiso, formerly head of advanced powertrains at Toyota, and the main driver behind Toyota’s fuel cell tech. Ogiso is now managing officer for product planning, and he was mobbed by reporters. He said the Safety Sense technology would arrive stateside this year.

Ogiso arrived at the event by subway, yet another aspect that sets Toyota apart.