New Toyota CEO Says Lexus Will Lead the Way to EVs

Toyota won’t give up on hybrids and hydrogen, but says a new all-electric platform is coming around 2026.

byAaron Cole|
New Toyota CEO Says Lexus Will Lead the Way to EVs

Lexus will lead Toyota’s newfound electrification push, which will also include a new all-electric vehicle platform coming in 2026, Toyota’s new CEO Koji Sato said Monday in Tokyo. Sato will take the reins from outgoing CEO Akio Toyoda on April 1 who was criticized for being too slow to adopt electric cars at the automaker his grandfather founded. Sato’s new role as Toyota CEO will be to not only speed up that transition toward more electric and electrified vehicles but also honor the automaker’s resolve that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to decarbonization. 

"This is not a fast pivot towards battery EVs," he said, according to Reuters. "To the point that we have been slow at battery EV projects, I think around half of it is a communication issue.”

Lexus will take the lead for the Japanese automaker, despite largely being a marque geared toward North America. Lexus has already said it would be an EV-only brand by 2035 and sell 1 million EVs by 2030, although the newfound focus from Sato could speed up that timeline. Sato previously served as brand chief for Lexus and Gazoo Racing, two bookends of the Toyota lineup that don’t produce nearly as many cars as the core brand. Sato said bringing electric cars to Toyota en masse would require cheaper costs and more efficiency.

“The competitiveness and cost of BEVs is going to be a very big challenge,” he said, according to Automotive News.

Sato didn’t say much about the automaker’s new EV-only platform, which could arrive around 2026. It’s likely to underpin several vehicles for Lexus and Toyota, which has used a single flexible platform for vehicles ranging from the Prius to the Camry, and the Highlander, Sienna, and Tundra. 

As a whole, Toyota and Lexus are very much on the back foot in EVs. Last year, the global automaker only sold roughly 24,000 EVs across the world, a small fraction of the 10.5 million EVs sold in 2022. That compares to 2.6 million hybrids sold by Toyota last year alone. Sato’s job will be to catch Toyota up in the EV race with other giants including Volkswagen and General Motors, which may not happen quickly.  

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