Toyota’s top man professes BEV love
The president of the Japanese OEM’s BEV factory, which launched in May, emphasises his commitment
Takero Kato is the man in charge of developing Toyota’s next-generation BEVs scheduled for release in 2026. And for a carmaker that often stands accused of being at best ambivalent to the e-mobility revolution, he is keen to stress his affection for the technology.
“I love battery EVs,” he told a recent Toyota shareholder meeting, when he was called on by the firm’s chairman to make a comment. “That was not lip service — I meant every word,” Kato tells an internal Toyota interview.
"Electric vehicles have unique qualities and driving performance only found in EVs. This goes beyond the pleasure of a motor drive to the way the car seems to stick to the asphalt, in rain or shine. Such characteristics are a key part of the cruising that I love so much,” he continues.
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Kato’s desire “to build a car that hugs the road” is inspired by his previous ownership of two Subaru Legacy all-wheel drives, which convinced him that “anything with a low centre of gravity was good.” And he aims to bring that same conviction to the current development of Toyota’s next-generation BEVs.
“While we could not produce that with engine cars in the past, developing the bZ3 made me feel it is possible with electric vehicles,” Kato says. “That is the kind of car I want to make.”
From 2019, Kato was the Toyota lead on its EV partnership with China’s BYD that led to the development of the bZ3, before returning to his newly created role within the firm’s Vehicle Development Centre in April this year. So he has professional pedigree to go alongside his professed love of BEVs.
But two challenges may remain. One is that the bZ3 is not an uncaveated success story. “Toyota has received messages from customers that they think there is still room for improvement, particularly with the bZ4X,” company CFO Yoichi Miyazaki said earlier this month of Chinese consumer feedback.
The second is whether Kato can navigate a Toyota corporate culture that seems unwilling to fully commit to BEVs above hybrids and/or hydrogen-powered vehicles, either FCEV or ICE, as future drivers of the firm’s success.