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Toyota boss hits out at Tesla

·2 min read
Toyota chief Akio Toyoda
Toyota chief Akio Toyoda

Toyota’s boss has taken a swipe at Tesla, predicting Elon Musk’s electric car company will lose out to established motor manufacturers as they catch up in battery vehicles.

Akio Toyoda, grandson of Toyota’s founder, warned not to dismiss the automotive industry’s giants as his company posted quarterly results which included doubling its full-year profit forecast. 

“Tesla says that their recipe will be the standard in the future, but what Toyota has is a real kitchen and a real chef,” said Mr Toyoda in a reference to Tesla’s hopes its technologies will become widely adopted.

“They aren’t really making something that’s real - people are just buying the recipe,” he added.

“We have the kitchen and chef, and we make real food. "When it comes to products, we have a full menu that will be chosen by customers.”

Toyota Mirai
Toyota Mirai

Toyota dwarfs Tesla, selling about 10m vehicles a year, while Tesla has sold just over 10pc of that amount in its entire existence.

Tesla stole an early lead on established automotive players but they pumped hundreds of billions into R&D, and are now bearing down on Elon Musk's company.

Although Toyota was a leader in hybrid cars with its Prius, it has until recently lagged in electric technology though has pushed hydrogen cars.

According to analysts, Tesla has recently lost the top spot for sales of electric vehicles in Europe, as manufacturers such as Volkswagen Group and the Renault-Nissan Alliance push electric vehicles to hit tough emissions controls.

Mr Toyoda’s warnings came as VW boss Herbert Diess described his company’s “advantages” over Tesla that come from long experience of building cars and understanding the issues the face.

In an interview with Bloomberg he described electric cars from VW Group, which owns Audi, Porsche and Bentley, as being a “different product substance” and having “really premium quality”.

Tesla has long been criticised for its build quality and after sales service, two of the most challenging areas of the automotive sector.

But Mr Diess did not dismiss the threat posed by companies such as Tesla, and  VW is investing €40bn into electric cars and new technology to make sure it stays relevant.

He said he used the demise of mobile phone maker Nokia as a warning that the German car maker must not be complacent.

“Nokia is probably a good example of how such a change can happen—if you’re not fast enough, you’re not going to survive. I’m always telling our people this example.”