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]

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance most likely world’s largest automaker, Volkswagen to be 2nd

We interrupt our self-imposed Christmas holiday with the news that in all likelihood, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance will end the year as the world’s largest automaker group. Volkswagen Group most likely will come in second. [Continue Reading]

Toyota rolls out “BEVs in earnest.”

BEVs in earnest. Picture (c) Bertel Schmitt

The common narrative among the disruption-demographic is that large “legacy” automakers are asleep at their four wheels. The not-so-common version is: Step aside when they wake up. The step-aside moment was today, when world’s largest automaker Toyota laid out its electrification plans.

In a press conference at Toyota’s Megaweb in Tokyo, EVP Shigeki Terashi started out complaining to reporters that some of his limelight was stolen during Akio Toyoda’s announcement of a battery joint venture with Panasonic. Then he revealed that: [Continue Reading]

That’s going to hurt Elon Musk: Battery-partner Panasonic romantically involved with Toyota

The happy couple meets the press. Picture (c) Bertel Schmitt

Tesla-chief Elon Musk should need a few extra Ambiens tonight after he hears the news from Tokyo. His Gigafactory battery partner Panasonic today announced some sort of engagement with the world’s largest automaker Toyota, with the goal of developing the best batteries for EVs, the type of batteries that definitely are not on the table in the domestic partnership between Tesla and Panasonic. Will it lead to a giga-divorce?

Officially, Toyota and Panasonic today announced a rather innocuous-sounding “agreement to begin studying the feasibility of a joint automotive prismatic battery business,” and Tesla’s propaganda arms undoubtedly will assure the faithful that nothing is to be feared from it, and that, should it unexpectedly lead to something, “Elon will have it first.”

If you went to today’s press conference on the matter, you went home thereafter with a totally different impression.  The presser was called with only four hours of notice, always a sign that something important is afoot. We were invited not to come to Toyota’s usual basement-bunker meeting room, but to the grand ballroom at Tokyo’s swank Conrad. Despite the tight timing, every seat was taken.  So enormous was the occasion, that Toyota even laid on a feature-length YouTube video.

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Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi maintains the lead in final stretch of world’s largest automaker race

Come-from-behind Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance continues to amaze. Only a major disaster can keep it from ending the as World’s Largest Automaker. Not even a small disaster in Japan could sufficiently dent the Alliance’s chances. Volkswagen and Toyota will fight neck-and-neck until the last minutes of the year.

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50 years and 6 million units later, the Toyota Hiace still gets no respect

Not much of a birthday party. (c) Bertel Schmitt

Life isn’t fair. Tesla built a little over 80,000 units last year, end everybody is going gaga. Then there is a vehicle that is built more than 200,000 times each year, and it gets no respect. Tesla built some 250,000 cars since inception. That other vehicle was built more than 6 million times. In the last 48 hours, 10% of the 3,100 stories scanned by the DailyKanban Newsbot were about Tesla. None were about the Toyota Hiace. This morning, the Hiace celebrated its 50th birthday, and 12 hours later, even that festive occasion won’t rate a single headline. Meanwhile, the mediocre Tesla smartphone battery gets 845,000 hits on Google.

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I have seen the taxi of the future, and it is indigo blue

Ribbon-cutting ceremony for the JPN Taxi (c) Bertel Schmitt

Yesterday, I was given an early glimpse of the taxi of the future. It looks a little bit like the offspring of a mésalliance between a London taxi and an Escalade. It will be piloted by a legacy human driver, it won’t have Wifi, it will be powered by propane gas, and its color will be deep blue, if Toyota gets its wish.

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