Search CarGuide.PH

December 5, 2021

Chinese Manufacturers Are Cutting Corners Says Toyota

When BYD launched their Tang Plug-In Hybrid, Toyota executives got to drive it along with several other Chinese models at its corporate proving ground in Toyota City, Japan. They were floored. How can BYD, like many other Chinese brands, come up with cars whose design and quality that showed maturity but remained 30 percent cheaper than Toyota’s comparable models? It could be down to a case of cutting corners, its engineers said.

Toyota’s planning process is rigid and thorough. Once it has decided on the technologies, components and systems at the outset of a car’s three-to-four-year development process, it rarely changes designs.

During the process, Toyota typically does three design prototypes and three manufacturing prototypes. Some are driven about 150,000 kilometers to bulletproof quality and reliability when testing for emissions or bad-road durability.

At BYD, engineers do far less prototyping–there are typically just two—and designs can be changed as late as two years into the process, definite no-nos at Toyotas.

However, as a result of those last-minute changes, the technology in a BYD car is much more up to date than in a Toyota when it hits the market, and is often cheaper. This, along with the fact that BYD produces a wide array of its own components, have helped it close potential gaps in quality and reliability that could come from such last-minute design changes.

Up to now, Toyota still questions the long-term reliability of Chinese vehicles, but the speed at which their development evolves cannot be ignored.

BYD’s lithium-iron-phosphate batteries will have Toyota turning to them to engineer an affordable all-electric Corolla-sized sedan destined to join the brand’s new “bZ” range.

Lithium-iron-phosphate batteries are less energy dense than lithium-ion batteries but are cheaper, have longer shelf life, and are less prone to overheating. It’s the same technology found in certain variants of Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y.

The fact that Toyota has been compelled to turn to BYD to solve its low-cost EV conundrum shows how far the competitive balance of the global auto industry has tipped in the past decade.

On one hand, it’s a turning of the tables for BYD, whose F3 sedan was “inspired” by the Corolla in 2005. On the other, it’s a new challenge to take for Toyota: should they embrace BYD’s quicker engineering turnaround, or should it remain labeled as risky, especially for a carmaker whose reputation is founded on reliability and durability.

With a report from Reuters.


  1. It's an open secret that Chinese car companies cut corners in product development as this was confirmed by my Chinese professor in graduate school in Beijing. Only time will tell if this new battery technology will last for several years or needs replacement after 2 to 3 years.

  2. The title of the article implies something negative, while the source port from Reuters is actually more positive towards Chines manufacturers.

    But of course, this title is more catchy eh? I understand the editors here.

  3. My 2 year Chinese phone battery is still working as well as it did when I first bought it. Am sure their EVs will do just fine too.


Feel free to comment or share your views. Comments that are derogatory and/or spam will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to moderate and/or remove comments.