Toyota CEO will directly oversee newly-formed EV unit

Toyota CEO will directly oversee newly-formed EV unit

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda and other top executives will directly oversee the company’s newly-formed EV unit.

The company recently formed a skunkworks team to bring an electric vehicle to market, but an official statement claimed the initiative was staffed by just four workers. The quartet is said to include single individuals from Toyota Motor and Toyota Industries, along with representatives from suppliers Aisin Seiki and Denso.

The initial statements suggested the division may have been exploring electric powertrains as a potential hedge against hydrogen technology and hybrids, however the leadership choices point to a more serious commitment to launching battery-powered vehicles.

“By putting the president and vice presidents in charge of the department, we plan to speed up development of electric cars,” a Toyota spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters. “The president will directly oversee the department’s operations to enable decisions to be made quickly and nimbly.”

Further reflecting the seriousness of the project, Prius chief engineer Koji Toyoshima has been assigned to lead the EV engineering efforts and join the four-person strategy team.

Toyota’s hydrogen-powered Mirai has struggled to gain traction as refueling infrastructure remains scant in California and virtually nonexistent in the rest of the country. A $349 discount lease program helped spark a surge in sales last month, but the year-to-date total barely surpassed 800 units through the first 10 months of the year.

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