While more and more major automakers are diving deeper into the world of electric vehicles, Toyota is being cautious.
Toyota is one of the world’s largest automakers, and most profitable, although it has dragged its feet on EVs, preferring to focus on hybrids as the primary solution to reducing emissions.
However, even with the government proposing, and in some cases confirming, plans to ban the sale of vehicles with internal-combustion engines, Toyota has no intention of moving into EVs. Toyota President Akio Toyoda reaffirmed this position Wednesday in a speech marking 60 years of operations in Thailand, where Toyota also showed off an electric truck concept based on the Hilux Global mid-size pickup.
Toyota Hilux BEV Concept
“I often get criticized in the press because I won’t declare that the automotive industry should commit 100% to BEVs,” he said. “I believe we have to be realistic about when society will be able to fully adopt battery-electric vehicles and when our infrastructure can support them at scale.”
Toyota compared the crowd to EVs as the company promised a few years ago that we’d all be riding in self-driving cars. He says EVs, like self-driving cars, will take longer to become mainstream than most pundits predict.
He added that Toyota is not a company that takes a “one-size-fits-all approach” to its products and has alternative solutions to meet carbon neutrality targets. At Toyota, some of these solutions include carbon-neutral synthetic fuels, hydrogen fuel cells and even hydrogen-burning engines. Toyoda said he sees hydrogen as promising as EVs in the fight against carbon emissions, especially for the transportation industry, and that he recently drove a hydrogen-powered Yaris and was “amazed by its performance.”
Toyota Project Portal 2.0 fuel cell powered semi-trailer truck
Toyoda also noted the importance of reducing carbon emissions throughout the production process, not just at the local level. It extends to how materials are collected, how cars are built, how they are fueled and how cars are disposed of, he said.
“We must remember that carbon is the real enemy, not a specific powertrain, and we cannot reach carbon neutrality on our own,” he said. “It must be a group effort and include other industries beyond automotive.”
Despite the location, Toyota will soon have one of the largest EV lineups available spanning both the Toyota and Lexus brands. In the US, it currently only offers the Toyota bZ4X crossover, and Lexus will soon offer the RZ crossover. The automaker said a year ago that it plans to have 30 EVs available by 2030 and sell about 3.5 million EVs annually by the same date. For reference, in 2021 the automaker has sold around 10.5 million vehicles across its brands.