Toyota Electric Car Division Has Only Four Employees

After announcing recently that it is open to the idea of making electric cars, Toyota is putting its money where its mouth is. It has decided to establish an in-house venture company responsible for developing electric vehicles. It will be staffed by four people. How’s that for making a commitment?

Toyota electric car
Hot pink Toyota i-Road charging in Grenoble, France. Credit: Electric Cars Report

Toyota’s approach is the ultimate in streamlining the design process. The four will come from Toyota Industries Corporation, Aisin Seiki Company, Ltd, Denso Corporation, and Toyota Motor Company. The organization is a “virtual organization.” Called a “venture company,” it will operate outside of all internal structural organizations within the four participating companies. Kickoff is scheduled for December.

The venture company will draw on all the technological resources of the Toyota Group. The small organizational structure is meant to promote unconventional working procedures. That should help the project to move along swiftly and bring products to market in the shortest possible time.

Up until now, Toyota has been a steadfast proponent of fuel cell vehicles (aided by a big push from the Japanese government). In terms of cruising range, hydrogen fueling times, and other considerations, Toyota believes FCEV’s offer convenience equal to conventional internal combustion vehicles. That makes them the “ultimate eco-car” as far as Toyota is concerned

That’s the theory. The reality is that unless Toyota jumps into the deep end of the electric car pool soon, it risks seeing market share flee to other car companies in the very near future. Commenting on the establishment of the new venture company, Toyota president Akio Toyoda told the press,

“Over these past few years, which we have positioned for strengthening our planting of seeds for the future. We have taken such measures as establishing the Toyota Research Institute, made Daihatsu a fully owned subsidiary, and have begun work to established an internal company responsible for compact vehicles for emerging markets.

“The new organizational structure for EVs is a part of this effort. As a venture company that will specialize in its field and embrace speed in its approach to work, it is my hope that it will serve as a pulling force for innovation in the work practices of Toyota and the Toyota Group.”

The approach is novel and innovative. But will it be too little too late for Toyota? Every other car manufacturer has at least a two year head start. Tesla is now 6 years ahead, based on work on the Model S began. Make haste, Toyada-san. Tempes fugit.

Source: Electric Cars Report

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.