Tesla engineers took a Tesla Model Y apart. And they found they were far behind Tesla when it comes to car manufacturing processes. And this realisation has already resulted in a new direction for Toyota. This is what happened.
When Toyota recently took a Tesla Model Y apart, they realized that they were lagging behind Tesla’s use of megacastings in the Model Y manufacturing process, which reduced hundreds of parts while improving efficiency. Toyota estimates that Tesla cut up to 100 kg while slashing costs. This ‘teardown’ of a Tesla Model Y was leaked to the media by several Toyota executives.
What is megacasting?
Megacasting is a manufacturing process that involves casting large and complex structures in a single piece, as opposed to using smaller parts and joining them together. This process is particularly useful in the production of structural components for electric vehicles (EVs) because it eliminates the need for welding, reducing weight and increasing strength.
In the case of Tesla, they used megacastings in the manufacturing process of the Model Y, which helped to eliminate hundreds of parts and reduce the overall weight of the vehicle by up to 220 pounds (100 kg). This reduction in weight, coupled with the use of a structural battery, has contributed to the Model Y’s efficiency and performance.
Toyota has a new CEO – and he plans to get things on track
Despite being the world’s largest automaker by the number of cars sold, Toyota has been criticized for being slow to embrace EV technologies compared to its rivals, such as Volkswagen and General Motors. However, incoming CEO Koji Sato has pledged to speed up the company’s shift to EVs. Toyota will focus on battery EVs in the future and will launch a new electric model under its Lexus brand by 2026.
“To deliver attractive BEVs to more customers, we must streamline the structure of the car, and—with a BEV-first mindset—we must drastically change the way we do business, from manufacturing to sales and service,” Sato said.
Koji Sato laid out several changes across the enormous business as it pushes harder toward electrification. The company will reshuffle senior executives, rejig its management structure (notably, all-male) and focus on electrification and intelligent cars.
Sato introduced the plan with a bold statement: “We must drastically change the way we do business, from manufacturing to sales and service.” To deliver EVs people want to drive, the company “must streamline the structure of the car,” he said, adding that Lexus — the luxury brand that he led — will spearhead the transformation. As part of this, the firm will restructure its vehicle production system at Kyushu and have a next-generation Lexus EV by 2026. All components in these models, “from the battery and platform to how a car is built,” will be geared for EVs.
Toyota’s new platform is not expected to be ready until 2026, but it is a crucial step toward competing with Tesla’s manufacturing efficiency. However, Toyota will need a cultural change to accomplish this goal, as it has been criticized for lacking the mindset required to match Tesla in EV production.
Toyota’s failed bZ4X crossover launched in 2022 suffered from disappointing performance due to its ICE platform. Toyota calls it e-TNGA, but it’s the TNGA with a battery and an electric motor. The Japanese automaker even assembles it on the same production line as other TNGA vehicles. And this platform just will not do for the future.
What this means is: Toyota will make changes, and will try to dominate EVs the way they did petrol and diesel vehicles.
Expect big announcements from Toyota in the coming year, as the company becomes clearer about what it plans to do to attain this dominance.