Newsflash: Lexus is in 2030 volledig elektrisch


+++ FORD will build a new Lithium Ion Phosphate (LFP) battery plant in Marshall, Michigan. The multi-billion-dollar EV battery plant originally slated for construction in the Commonwealth of Virginia was shut out by its newly elected governor, Glenn Youngkin. Virginia’s loss, $3.5 billion in initial investment and at least 2.500 hightech jobs, is Michigan’s gain. The Michigan facility will come online in 2026 under the same conditions previously stipulated in Virginia, including Ford’s announced partnership with China’s CATL; the component that soured the deal for the Virginia governor. Youngkin called the plant a Chinese “Trojan horse”. “Ford’s $3.5 billion investment creating 2.500 good-paying jobs in Marshall building electric vehicle batteries will build on Michigan’s economic momentum”, said Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer. “Today’s generational investment by an American icon will uplift local families, small businesses and the entire community and help our state continue leading the future of mobility and electrification. Let’s continue bringing the supply chain of electric vehicles, chips and batteries home while creating thousands of good-paying jobs and revitalizing every region of our state. Since I took office, we’ve secured over 30.000 auto jobs and landed multiple electric vehicle and chip-making factories. We’re on the move, so let’s keep our foot on the accelerator”. While CATL will participate in the new Marshall facility’s battery production operations, the plant itself will be Ford’s (via a wholly owned subsidiary). LFP offers more power density and capacity alongside cold-weather performance, but costs more than traditional Lithium Ion Phosphate batteries due to the materials required. LFP batteries are also more tolerant of frequent and extreme charge level swings, meaning customers can settle into the habit of fully charging and depleting the batteries in their cars with less of a long-term impact on charging capacity, and LFP batteries are more stable and less prone to catastrophic thermal events. “Ford’s electric vehicle lineup has generated huge demand. To get as many Ford EVs to customers as possible, we’re the first automaker to commit to build both NCM [lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese] and LFP batteries in the United States”, said Jim Farley, Ford president and CEO. “We’re delivering on our commitments as we scale LFP and NCM batteries and thousands, and soon millions, of customers will begin to reap the benefits of Ford EVs with cutting-edge, durable battery technologies that are growing more affordable over time”. LFP batteries will be offered alongside the existing Li-Ion packs in Ford’s current EVs. The F-150 Lightning and Mustang Mach-E will both be offered with LFP packs in order to help ease battery-related production constraints. Prior to the new Marshall facility coming online (slated for 2026), Ford will source those batteries directly from CATL. NCM batteries will continue to be utilized for existing long-range models of the Lightning and Mach-E. Ford expects LFP to represent about 20% of the company’s battery production capacity once its planned facilities are fully online. +++

+++ The restructuring of the Nissan and Renault partnership isn’t the legacy Carlos GHOSN had in mind. The announcement that Renault will gradually reduce its stake in Nissan is a repudiation of the former chairman’s plans to more closely unite an alliance the disgraced former auto titan spent almost 2 decades building. Instead, the companies are choosing more independent paths to navigate the technological and geographical shifts reshaping the global car industry. Renault is splitting into 2 main businesses: 1 focused on electric vehicles and another 1 on automobiles with legacy combustion engines. Nissan has long sought greater independence since Renault saved it from financial ruin with a well-timed cash injection in 1999 and sent in Ghosn to turn the business around. The workaholic Brazilian-Lebanese executive, who spent much of his time jetting between the carmakers’ headquarters and factories, was the glue holding together the alliance, which expanded in 2016 to include Mitsubishi. Before his shock arrest in 2018, Ghosn was aiming for a grand coalition of automotive enterprises to take on industry leaders Toyota and Volkswagen, as well as embracing electrification and self-driving. Just a year ago, Renault’s market capitalization was lower than the value of its holding in Nissan, one sign that it was no longer working as intended. But in the interim, investors have bought into CEO Luca de Meo’s vision for Renault’s future, almost doubling its market value from a March low. The carmaking world has changed since Ghosn was arrested for financial crimes (he denies the charges) and purged from the companies he once dominated. Nissan, for one, is worth less than half of what it was under him and the 3 alliance automakers have lost $28.5 billion (¥3.8 trillion) combined in market value. Nissan posted its biggest loss in 20 years in the fiscal year following the arrest, and it has slipped to become Japan’s third-largest carmaker after Toyota and Honda. While Renault and Nissan benefited by using their joint-purchasing power to drive down costs for parts and raw materials, they never figured out how to make full use of their engineering resources to build common car platforms. Nissan remains the bigger partner in the alliance, outselling Renault. The Yokohama-based company is making a big, long-term bet on solid-state vehicle batteries, an as-yet untested technology in the mass market. Together with Mitsubishi, Nissan is also making and selling electric mini vehicles, lining up against Chinese manufacturers and others pushing aggressively into the area. The charges filed against Ghosn and former director Greg Kelly have been a distraction for Nissan, as well as a lengthy internal probe and the former chairman’s dramatic escape from Japan at the end of 2019. Negotiations to revamp the alliance have sucked up management resources at a time when Nissan has a noticeable lack of new models to appeal to car buyers. Ghosn’s arrest also led to the exit of several alliance executives, most notably Jose Munoz, who is now Hyundai Motor’s chief operating officer. Hyundai is outselling Nissan globally and has become the world’s third-largest carmaker. The saga also triggered management turmoil at Renault that left the French carmaker without a permanent CEO for 20 months. Thierry Bollore was appointed soon after Ghosn’s arrest, but lasted just a year, and was followed by interim leadership until de Meo took over in mid-2020. The Ghosn years were also marked by Nissan sending hundreds of millions of euros into Renault’s coffers via dividends. The payouts halted 3 years ago when Nissan went on an aggressive cost-cutting drive, a painful loss of income for the French carmaker, and were only recently restored at a much lower level. Ghosn’s voluntary pay cut in 2011 after new disclosure rules in Japan triggered efforts by Kelly and others to find ways to retain and pay him after retirement, according to testimony given during criminal proceedings against Kelly and Nissan. That trial concluded last year with Kelly exonerated of most charges and Nissan paying a fine. The former alliance chairman asserts that he was ousted because he sought to bring the companies closer together. While there’s evidence to back the claims, his efforts clearly backfired. Ultimately, Ghosn’s visions, including bringing Fiat into the alliance, never came to pass. +++

+++ Amid new leadership changes, Toyota is reshuffling its business structure, claiming the “time is right” to accelerate battery electric vehicle (BEV) development. Toyota says it will take a new EV-first approach, starting with its luxury brand LEXUS . Last week, Toyota’s longtime CEO Akio Toyoda stepped down from his position amid mounting pressure (as some people would say: he was ‘fired upward’ to the chairman of the Board) to accelerate EV development and keep up in a rapidly changing industry. The news comes after the 66-year-old grandson to the company’s founder has been one of the most outspoken opponents of going all in on electric vehicles. Toyoda insisted on sticking with a hybrid approach (including fuel cell, EV, hybrid and gas vehicles) despite the industry moving forward with zero-emissions EV technology, putting the company on track to rank as one of the world’s most obstructive companies in 2022 with oil industry leaders. After announcing his departure, Toyoda alluded to the fact that his successor will be tasked with leading the automaker’s transformation as it enters a new mobility era. Incoming president Koji Sato is set to take the reins on April 1, 2023. Sato addressed the situation, saying Toyota will prove it’s committed to making cars better through “concrete actions and products, such as accelerating the shift to electrification”. He added the timing is now right to accelerate EV development with a new approach. Sato, previously the chief branding officer at Lexus, says he is looking to ramp up Toyota’s EV efforts with a new business structure and approach beginning in April. In a press release, Toyota announced it would implement several changes to transform the automaker into a mobility company. First, Toyota will focus on electrification, claiming, “Toyota must create cars with energy security in mind and contribute to achieving a carbon-neutral society”. Sato added: “Now that the time is right, we will accelerate BEV development with a new approach”. Toyota plans to use its luxury brand Lexus to spearhead the approach with a full lineup of fully electric zero-emission vehicles by 2030. In particular, the automaker plans to make EV-specific parts like batteries and a dedicated platform to optimize and help expand its lineup and streamline production. When Sato takes over as president of Toyota, he could pull the automaker out of the past and into the modern era. It seems that’s what he’s trying to achieve with the new EV-first approach. However, Sato still hinted at providing “diverse options” and stood by its “multi-pathway” strategy without getting too specific. has said it for a while now: if Toyota doesn’t turn things around quickly and get on board, they will fall behind as the industry moves forward without them. Many automakers are already achieving double-digit sales (or 100% EV sales) while Toyota’s zero-emissions sales accounted for less than 1% of its total US volume. Hopefully, Sato can get the new team on board. Otherwise, it will be a long road ahead for Toyota. When their design group did a Hyundai Ioniq 5 teardown, they were shocked at how more advanced it was than anything they had planned in their upcoming designs. They were also shocked at how much less expensive Teslas are to build. +++

+++ NISSAN maintained its full-year profit forecasts Thursday, saying it expects chip shortages and other Covid-related disruptions to hit sales volumes, but vowed to fight back through “strict financial discipline”. The Japanese auto giant said it still expects a net profit of 155 billion yen ($1.2 billion) in the 2022-23 financial year, and also left its operating income outlook unchanged. It trimmed its annual unit sales target by 8 percent to 3.4 million vehicles, however, predicting more production setbacks due to “semiconductor supply shortages, and the impact of the spread of Covid-19 infections in China”. Net profit in the 9 month period to December tumbled 43 percent on-year to 115 billion yen, Nissan said. But in the third quarter, net profit jumped 55 percent compared to the same period the previous year. “Strong currency fluctuations and increases in raw material prices continued to have a significant impact in the third quarter”, with sales volumes driven down by the chip shortage and resurgent Covid-19 infections, Nissan said. “The third quarter was also a very challenging business environment”, CEO Makoto Uchida added in a statement. “However, the new models we introduced in each market have been very well received by customers, and we are feeling a strong response for the future”. In the 4th quarter, “Nissan expects to offset the negative impact of volume decline by continued improvement in performance with strict financial discipline”, the company said. The results come hot on the heels of a landmark deal rebalancing Nissan’s fraught alliance with its French partner Renault. The revamped partnership, signed earlier this week, will end Renault’s decades-long dominance over Nissan that has often been dubbed the “unequal treaty”, slashing its share in the Japanese company to 15 percent from 43.4 percent. The agreement also involved Nissan taking a stake of up to 15 percent in Renault’s new electric vehicle venture Ampere. The rebalancing is the latest twist in Nissan’s recent years of tumult, from the arrest of former chief Carlos Ghosn to pandemic-triggered semiconductor shortages and the conflict in Ukraine. But even after the overhaul of the Nissan-Renault relationships, uncertainty will likely persist over Nissan’s path toward recovery, some analysts say. Underlying this view is “persistent turmoil in supply chains, seen in issues such as the shortage of semiconductors, price hikes of key materials, and expected increases in spending for electrification”, S&P Global Ratings said ahead of the earnings release. +++

+++ Nissan and RENAULT said Monday they would invest $600 million to make 6 new models in India, 1 of 3 markets in which the 2 automakers plan to coordinate closely in a revamped alliance announced last week. The move is intended to help address falling market shares for the Japanese and French companies in a market with rising global importance. “This investment is very significant not only on products but on technologies like EVs (electric vehicles) to really capture the growing Indian market, which is the third-largest market in the world, and also to use India as a base for export”, Nissan chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta told reporters. The 2 companies said in a statement that each would make 3 new models in India, all built on joint platforms (components and engineering that can be shared between designs). 2 models would be EVs, the companies’ first in India; the others would be SUVs. All will be made at the underemployed car plant that the companies jointly own in Chennai, southern India. They have a research and development center there, too. Under a new structure for their 2 decade old global alliance announced February 6, Nissan and Renault will also cooperate closely in Latin America and Europe. The 2 companies together had around 3% of the Indian market in 2022. Unlike Nissan, Renault does not have a significant presence China, the United States and Japan, raising the stakes for its success in India. Industry-wide sales in India surged 23% last year to 4.4 million vehicles, overtaking the Japanese market, according to S&P Global Mobility. The Chennai plant can produce about 500.000 vehicles a year, but last year Renault sold only 87.000 in India and Nissan 35.000. +++

+++ Ford has cut its stake in RIVIAN to 1.15%, as part of a plan to scale down its holdings in the electric-vehicle maker. Ford, which wrote down the value of its Rivian investment by $7.4 billion in 2022, had said last week that the monetization of its stake in Rivian was “nearly complete”. Ford held an 11.4% stake in Rivian at the end of 2021. Shares of Rivian fell 3.4% in afternoon trade. The stock had a poor run in 2022, losing about 82% of its value as the company reeled from supply chain disruptions and missed its full-year production target of 25.000 units. Stuart Goldberg of Big Sky doesn’t think his Rivian orders are ever coming in. As a stockholder, Goldberg put 2 deposits down on an R1T and an R1S in September 2019. The 53-year-old resident of the ski town says he’s a perfect example of a Rivian customer. He said he even offered to let the company film an ad for free on his property if they would just deliver his vehicles. In February, Goldberg received an email that his delivery date was pushed back, yet again, to the second half of 2024. “I read that as basically never”, Goldberg said. He’s embarrassed, he said, because he spent years hyping up Rivian to his friends and enthusing about his orders. Now, he dreads friends asking where his electric trucks are. “I’m the jerk who gets calls all the time like ‘you get your car yet?’ and I have to answer ‘no’ because at this point they’re never selling me a car”. Goldberg’s plight (and newfound distaste with Rivian after waiting nearly half a decade for his vehicles) are an early sign to some that the company has made more promises than it can deliver upon. The list is certainly long. Since its blockbuster IPO in late 2021, Rivian has attempted to launch 3 vehicles at once, deliver 100.000 electric vans to Amazon and hammer out 25.000 vehicles in its first full year of production; all while standing up a second factory in Georgia. While the company tries to keep all of these plates spinning, shareholders are losing patience. In its first full year as a publicly traded company, Rivian’s stock fell 82% as it pushed back deliveries, changed pricing and in the end, delivered just over 20.000 vehicles. On top of the investor about-face, the company’s production troubles are starting to irk a once-fanatic customer base, which could spell real trouble for the startup. Another Rivian customer told they placed a reservation last July. After not receiving any update about their order in more than 6 months, they canceled it this month. A Rivian spokesperson told that timing is “based on a number of factors, including delivery location, configuration and original preorder or reservation date”. “Not having a history of buyers, and the reputation that brings along with that base, can mean you don’t have the momentum you need to get through the economic turmoil we’re about to go through”, Sam Fiorani, an analyst for AutoForecast Solutions, told. In CEO RJ Scaringe’s email to staff about a 6% reduction in workforce earlier this month (the second round of cuts in 7 months) he mentioned “focus” 3 times. “In 2022, we took steps to focus our product portfolio and drive a lower cost structure”, Scaringe said. “To deliver over the long-term, we must focus our resources on ramp and our path to profitability while ensuring we have the right set of future products, services and technology. The changes we are announcing today reflect this focused roadmap”, he added. Moving toward profitability “requires us to concentrate our investments and resources on the highest impact parts of our business”. It’s clear that Scaringe knows just how much the next phase of the startup’s future depends on its ability to do exactly that. The Rivian spokesperson told Scaringe’s language refers to “how we deliver over the long term”. Despite having $13 billion in the bank (as of September 30), the fledgling EV-maker is struggling to build its flagship pickup line, an SUV, delivery trucks for Amazon, a charging business, and, most recently, a potential foray into the electric bike space; all while combating the same supply chain challenges hobbling the industry and racing to beat increasingly viable competitors to the market. By the end of 2022, Rivian had delayed its next-gen R2 platform and missed its 25.000-vehicle production guidance for 2022, building 24.337 and delivering 20.332. For the cars the company has gotten in customer hands, the challenges of a direct-to-consumer sales model could be starting to materialize. Still, Rivian is pushing to grow. It’s ambitiously expanding its domestic manufacturing footprint with a move in Georgia at a time when its current facility in Illinois isn’t yet operating at full capacity. Meanwhile, a constant flow of new competition targeting the delivery market is vying for Amazon’s attention while Rivian rushes to fill orders for the crucial contract. Ford cashed out 90% of its stake in 2022, and a joint venture with Mercedes to build electric vans was recently put on hold. In a release about the paused partnership, Scaringe again pointed to the need for “focusing” on the consumer business and existing commercial business. An employee laid off in Rivian’s first round of cuts last summer told it felt like growing pains many other companies have experienced. But the latest wave surprised one impacted employee. Coupled with Scaringe’s comments, it indicates more challenges ahead. “I think RJ knows what he’s doing: Focus on getting the product out and ramp up on the vans”, Martin French, managing director at consultancy Berylls, said. “They’ve got what looks to be a great product and the enthusiasm is still there. I don’t know if it’s panic time for Rivian. “But at the end of the day, the expectation is, you’ve promised to make all these vehicles”. The industry has seen this story before, perhaps with players that grabbed less investor attention than Rivian. Arrival, a UK-based commercial EV startup, has gone through multiple restructurings resulting in layoffs. The company hemorrhaged cash while pursuing all sorts of ventures, from a delivery van to an electric jet and trying to reinvent the legacy auto factory. Meanwhile, former employees at Xos have said the electric truck and van-maker’s bloated product line was also what spurred layoffs last summer (like Scaringe, a company spokesperson also said the cuts were part of efforts to “focus”). Rivian has distinct advantages over those and others. Despite its hefty quarterly cash burn, the company is still the most well-set financially to move forward – for now. Experts say it may have to raise more funds to make it past 2023. While the executive team has undergone changes, Rivian hasn’t quite experienced the level of turnover to the extent other EV-makers have. Despite just missing the mark of last year’s production guidance, Rivian didn’t have to reduce its target like some peers did. And it still had a healthy 114.000 order backlog at the end of the third-quarter. For these reasons, not all Rivian-watchers are anxious about the startup’s future. Another order-holder feels confident, telling the delays aren’t a concern. Even Goldberg said he’s holding onto his orders on the off-chance they ever arrive. Still, shareholders and analysts say, Rivian has a long road to prove it can deliver this year — and focus. +++

+++ ROLLS-ROYCE ’s first series-produced electric car, the Spectre unveiled in 2022, won’t be its last. The BMW-owned company announced that every new car it launches after 2030 will be electric-only, though it stressed that there’s still space in its range for V12-powered models. “All future Rolls-Royces, new ones, will be only electric while maintaining what Rolls-Royce stands for”, company boss Torsten Müller-Ötvös told. He added that this thinking explains the Spectre’s overall design. “That’s why we also decided to go with classical Rolls-Royce proportions. It needs to look like a Rolls-Royce: monolithic, great stature, it carries proudly the pantheon grille. It drives like a Rolls-Royce, it accelerates like a Rolls-Royce, it wafts like a Rolls-Royce, it has all of the same materials, while being electric”, he said. That doesn’t mean that Rolls-Royce’s design department is stuck in a rut. The modular platform that underpins the Spectre will serve as the foundation for other EVs, and Müller-Ötvös told he’s open to experimenting with “very different technologies” and “different shapes”, though he stopped short of providing specific details. “Electric technology fits perfectly with the brand”, he opined. Rolls-Royce expects the Spectre will be able to drive for up to 415 km on a charge. That’s not much, but the company explained driving range isn’t a big concern for its customers. They mostly use their cars in urban centers and they’re able to charge at home and at work. If you’re saving up for a V12-powered Rolls-Royce, it’s not too late. “I still foresee a very good business for us in future for Cullinans, for Ghosts”, noted Müller-Ötvös in the same interview. +++

+++ TESLA shares extended their breakneck rally last Thursday to double from the lows touched in early January, helped by a rising appetite for growth and technology stocks, and signs that demand for its electric vehicles is rebounding. The shares closed up 3% at $207.32 in New York, capping a 104% gain from their Jan. 6 intraday trough. The shares are bouncing off a 65% plunge in 2022. Riskier growth stocks, which were beaten down hard last year amid concerns about rising interest rates and a recession, have made a strong comeback in 2023 as optimism about the economy has returned and investors bet the Federal Reserve’s aggressive rate-hike cycle is nearing its end. At the same time, Tesla’s own earnings last month, and a spate of positive headlines on tax credits for electric vehicles, have provided further lift to the shares of the Elon Musk-led company. “Tesla is rising so fast because of a market that believes the Fed is coming to the rescue”, said Eric Schiffer, chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based private equity firm Patriarch Organization. Good fourth-quarter results and “price cuts to turbocharge demand” also helped, he said. Early in February, the Biden administration said it will expand the newly-revamped electric vehicle tax credit to allow SUVs costing up to $80.000 to receive those credits. That move is a positive for Tesla, analysts said. Separately, the company has seen a surge in demand for its cars after January’s big price cut, allowing it to institute a slight price hike. Still, Tesla’s gains of 68% this year far outpace those of the Nasdaq 100 Index, which is up 13%. A frenzy of speculative trading in recent weeks that has seen retail traders rush into some of their favorite stocks can explain some of that exuberance, given Tesla’s popularity among individual shareholders. “Tesla has definitely been the main target of retail buying so far this year”, said Marco Iachini, senior vice president of research at Vanda Securities. While retail investors buying the stock is not unusual, given Tesla is “an ultimate retail favorite”, Iachini said the persistence and magnitude of the flows are surprising. Given that Tesla’s sharp decline over the past year brought significant pain to mom-and-pop traders, the recent “hunger” for the stock could be due to a desire to chase it higher and make up for losses, Iachini said. Just this week, Tesla alone attracted a 33% share of overall net purchases across all US securities, according to Vanda. The heavy retail flows into the stock are coming ahead of the company’s investor day on March 1, where Musk is expected to unveil a third version of his “master plan”, Vanda analysts noted. Despite January’s gravity-defying rally, the EV-maker’s shares are still down 49% from the all-time high of $409.97 touched in early November 2021. And while some investors say that the worst could be over for Tesla, others advocate caution, especially with the risk of a recession still hovering and the EV industry’s brisk pace of growth expected to slow in the near-term. Meanwhile, skepticism about the company’s newest model, the Semi heavy-duty truck, are continuing to linger. The stock is now trading just above the average analyst price target tracked by Bloomberg (suggesting Wall Street doesn’t see much more upside. Meanwhile, Tesla’s relative strength index, a technical gauge that measures whether a stock is under or over bought) shows signs of excessive buying, typically seen by markets as an indication that a decline is imminent. Tesla shares can continue to rise until the end of the first quarter or early second quarter, “when signs of a potential hard landing may again slash valuation”, Patriarch’s Schiffer said. +++

+++ TOYOTA left its annual forecasts unchanged on Thursday despite ongoing disruption from the global chip shortage, as the cheaper yen offsets the impact of soaring materials prices. The world’s topselling automaker, which reshuffled its executive line-up last month, is still suffering production setbacks caused by the semiconductor shortage along with other industry players. “Dealers, suppliers and production sites worked hard under circumstances where production plans fluctuated greatly due to factors such as semiconductor shortages and natural disasters”, Toyota said in a statement. But it said it still expected net profit of 2.36 trillion yen (US$18 billion) in the 12 months to March 2023, down 17% on-year. Toyota said it was “striving to quickly evaluate alternative semiconductors and respond to design changes for securing stable procurement of semiconductors”. The company logged a third-quarter net profit of 727.9 billion yen, down 8% on-year, and for April-December, net profit dropped 18% to 1.90 trillion yen. While operating profit fell over the 9 months, it was up in the third quarter “as the positive effects of a weaker yen and volume increases exceeded the negative effect of soaring materials prices”, Toyota said. The carmaker has struggled to meet its production targets simply because “there are not enough semiconductors”, said Seiji Sugiura, senior analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute. But Toyota is in a better position than many of its smaller rivals as it “has strong bargaining power” with parts suppliers, Sugiura told. China’s decision to end its zero-Covid policy and any economic stimulus measures from Beijing are also positive factors, he said, although Toyota cautioned that Chinese customers’ enthusiasm remained lukewarm for now. In January, Toyota set a confident 2023 production target of 10.6 million vehicles; higher than in recent years, including the 9 million made in pre-pandemic 2019. Still, it warned that actual production could be 10% lower because of parts shortages. Vehicle sales rose 16% in the third quarter thanks to the recovery in the global market, especially in North America and Asia, Toyota said Thursday. The automaker made a surprise shake-up of its leadership last month, replacing Akio Toyoda, whose grandfather founded the company, with 53-year-old Koji Sato as CEO. Toyoda, 66, will become board chairman as Sato (previously chief branding officer, and president of Toyota’s luxury Lexus brand) takes up the roles of chief executive and president. Sato is taking the helm at a time of major upheaval for the auto industry, with electric vehicles now center-stage. Toyota pioneered hybrid cars, but some critics say the company has been slow to make the shift to battery-powered engines, even as demand soars for low-emission automobiles. A year ago, the automaker hiked its targets for the sector and announced it would roll out 30 battery-powered electric models by the end of the decade. Chris Redl of Gordian Capital Japan told he thought Toyoda had done a “very good job” as CEO. “Anybody could naturally assume that his stepping down has something to do with their bungled EV strategy”, he said. “But… I think that he actually is completely correct in staying lukewarm on the electrification of Toyota’s fleet” given the high price of lithium. +++

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