Akio Toyoda Denies Toyota Is Skeptical of BEVs, States It Will Offer All Options

For a large number of climate change activists, not committing to selling only battery electric vehicles (BEVs) implies you are against them. After all, the only reason for that would be to protect their investments in combustion engines, right? That’s what makes only companies born to make EVs credible. Joking aside, most climate change activists hate cars and want them gone. Akio Toyoda addressed these folks in a recent press conference in the U.S., starting from the basics: he loves cars.
Akio Toyoda explains Toyota's strategy with electric cars 13 photos
Photo: Toyota
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More than that, he is the CEO of a company that sells vehicles for a living. Toyoda suggested he could not afford to bet on a single solution because that could jeopardize the business and the objects he loves. This is why Toyota works like a department store dedicated to cars: customers should be able to find whatever they want to buy, not something regulations impose.

Talking about them, the Toyota CEO stated that “establishing regulations should be the final step. It is unfortunate that regulation inevitably leads the way, restricting the options for potential solutions.” In other words, he said the same Carlos Tavares did when he warned European regulators that betting on a single solution could put the automotive industry at risk.

When asked if Toyota was skeptical of electric vehicles, Toyoda said that the 5.2 million hybrids the company sold since it presented the Prius saved 82 million metric tons of carbon. That is equivalent to the carbon emissions of 10.5 million households for one year – or Texas if that makes visualizing that scenario easier.

The Toyota CEO also reinforced the Japanese automaker’s department store approach, which works with a sensible argument: different markets will have different paths toward carbon neutrality. Ironically, it is precisely the current size of carmakers that makes such approaches more difficult.

Let’s say a government opted for hybrids or renewable fuels. If Toyota decides to go fully electric, it will have to ignore that market unless it has local engineering teams to develop vehicles for those customers. Carmakers without that will or the financial capacity to create cars for local tastes will just ignore those countries. Depending on the size of these markets, it will not make sense to sell there, leaving these clients without options apart from used cars and these automakers with lower sales volumes.

Toyoda also addressed the combustion engines burning hydrogen that Toyota is developing. The Toyota CEO was candid and admitted, “pursuing hydrogen-powered engines may not seem rational right now.” His defense for the project is that “that’s part of pursuing new, innovative technology.” The issue is that there is nothing innovative about combustion engines, especially those using pistons and cylinders.
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About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
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Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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