Tesla too late as Volkswagen and Toyota join their truck forces

Shimo and Renschler – (c) Bertel Schmitt

Should you be among the people highly excited about Tesla’s prospects with heavy trucks, count yourself lucky that you weren’t in the ballroom of Tokyo’s Grand Prince Hotel this afternoon. Would you have been, you went home with all hopes abandoned.  In said ballroom, two global players in the heavy truck business announced that they would join hands, because doing it alone is fraught with dangers.  Unsaid, but quickly evident: Newcomers, don’t even try.  Also, the allied bus and truck makers, will not bet on either battery electric or fuel cell. They will do both. [Continue Reading]

Sunseeker, take cover: Lexus enters the big boat market

The 65footer by Lexus

Today in Yokohama, Toyota’s head-turning Lexus speedboat was awarded the “Boat of the Year” title. That’s probably the last we hear of the boat, because it won’t be built. Instead, Lexus will enter the boat market with a 65foot sports yacht, Toyota Marine boss Shigeki Tomoyama said today.

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Japan unites industry in push for fuel cell cars, enthusiasm varies

United for hydrogen. (c) Bertel Schmitt

To allow for millions of new cars to be added without suffocating the globe, we need to switch to zero emissions in a hurry. Electric appears to be the way to go, and there are two ways to power the electric motors: Battery, and fuel cell. Batteries are easy, limited in range, and take long to charge. Fuel cells are technically involved, can give the car a long range, and take only minutes to refuel. They have a big drawback: The lack of hydrogen fuel stations. Yesterday, Japan made the first serious attempt to break that deadlock. [Continue Reading]

World’s Largest Automakers 2018: The new race begins with VW in the lead

And they are off: The race for World’s Largest Automakers 2018 ended the first of its 12 laps with Volkswagen way ahead of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance and Toyota. Separated by only 529 units, the Alliance and Toyota are neck and neck.

With a 10.1% unit growth over January 2017, Volkswagen continues its strong showing of the last two months of 2017, giving the lie to those who mused that the Germans could have brought a few units forward into 2017 to regain the top spot.

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Toyota: News of the death of the ICE have been greatly exaggerated

It’s not Elvis. It’s a new ICE engine by Toyota. There will be more. (c) Bertel Schmitt

I came home tonight, and Frau Schmitto-san, ever the caring wife, asked: “How was your day?”
“I was at Toyota, they launched a completely new line of gasoline engines, transmissions, drivelines.”

Frau Schmitto-san was perplexed: „They still make those?”

This about sums up the level of EV hype, and its utter disconnection from the truth. The short trip to Toyota was a journey back to reality. [Continue Reading]

Will China hold our electric future at ransom? Not if Toyota can help it

Toyota’s Akira Kato demonstrates lean neodymium. (c) Bertel Schmitt

If the supply of electric vehicles is to grow as predicted, the demand for strategic materials will increase along with it. The various oil crises of the past, and the wars that came with it, illustrate where such a dependency can lead. As far as electric vehicles are concerned, two choke points have been identified: The supply of cobalt needed to make batteries, and the supply of rare earth minerals needed to make the magnets in electric motors.

There are two ways to address the problem. We can hope it will take care of itself. Or we can do something about it. Toyota is in the second camp, and it aims to reduce the dangerous dependency on neodymium. Expensive neodymium already is the main cost driver in the production of magnets, we heard today at a meeting at Toyota’s Tokyo HQ. If electric vehicles will gain popularity as expected, shortages of neodymium could occur as early as 2025, Akira Kato, general project manager at Toyota’s R&D company, told us today. [Continue Reading]

Trump’s present to Toyota: A yuge net profit

Kobayashi (c) explains it to the reporters. (c) Bertel Schmitt

I think it’s better we keep this a secret, and don’t let President Trump hear that he made a big present to an unlikely recipient: Toyota, a company that used to receive a lot of hate from The Donald. [Continue Reading]

‘Fool cell’ Toyota Mirai trounces ‘S-curve’ Tesla Model 3

Hand made Mirai. (c) Bertel Schmitt

Last October, we raised the possibility that Tesla’s alleged mass market car, the Model 3, could be out-sold by Toyota’s not-at-all-mass-market car, the fuel-cell powered Mirai. We called that a “strong possibility,” and a Toyota tipster said “if Tesla maintains its graceful pace of some 130 a month, for sure we will have made more Mirai this year by end of December.”

As the world is well aware by now, the Model 3 ramp-up was disgraceful, and as hard as it may have tried, Tesla could report only 1,770 Model 3 as sold to (mostly in-house) customers in 2017.

Today was December and calendar year 2017 numbers day in Japan, an opportunity to ask Toyota how its Mirai has been doing. [Continue Reading]