Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda Talks EV Skepticism, ‘Happy Dance,’ His Legacy | Jobs Reply

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda speaks during a small media roundtable on Sept. 29, 2022 in Las Vegas.

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las vegas – Toyota Motor CEO Akio Toyoda said last week simply what he wants his legacy to be: “I love cars.”

The 66-year-old racer, car enthusiast and company heir apparent will be remembered for his approach to all-electric vehicles versus gas-powered performance cars, such as the Supra or hybrids, like the once-groundbreaking Prius will play out in the coming years.

Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, plans to invest $70 billion in electrified vehicles over the next nine years Half of that will be for all-electric batteries. While that’s a significant investment in EVs, it’s smaller than some competitors plan, and some don’t want to give Toyota a global footprint.

Despite criticism from some investors and environmental groups, Toyota this past week doubled down on its strategy to continue investing in a range of electric vehicles, in contrast to competitors such as Volkswagen and General Motors, which have said they are going all-electric.

The plans could arguably cement Toyota’s “I love cars” legacy or tarnish it, depending on how quickly drivers adopt electric vehicles.

“To me, playing to win means doing things differently. Doing things that others may question, but we believe will put us in the winner’s circle the longest,” he said Wednesday during Toyota’s annual dealer meeting in Las Vegas. Way, was It’s called “playing to win”.

Akio Toyoda with the new Toyota Supra

Paul Eisenstein CNBC

Toyoda, who describes Toyota as a large department store, said the company’s mission “remains the same, to please a wide range of customers with the widest possible range of powertrains.” These powertrains will include hybrids and by 2025 hybrids and plug-in hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell cars like the Mirai, and 15 all-electric battery models.

In addition to EV plans, Toyota discussed other aspects of the company’s business last week during dealer meetings and a small roundtable with US media.

EV regulations and materials

Toyoda reiterated that he doesn’t believe all-electric vehicles will be adopted as quickly as policymakers and competitors think, for several reasons. He cited lack of infrastructure, pricing and how consumer preferences vary from region to region as examples of potential roadblocks.

Analysts say Toyota is best positioned to catch Tesla

He believes it will be “difficult” to meet recent regulations that call for a ban on traditional vehicles with internal combustion engines by 2035, as California and New York have said they will adopt.

“As far as the fully autonomous cars we’re supposed to drive so far, it will take longer for EVs to become mainstream than the media would have us believe,” Toyoda said in a recording of dealer comments shown to reporters. . “In the meantime, you have a lot of options for customers.”

Toyoda also believes that there will be “severe shortages” of lithium and battery-grade nickel in the next five to 10 years, causing production and supply chain problems.

Carbon neutrality

Toyota aims to be carbon neutral by 2050, and not just through all-electric cars. Some have questioned the environmental impact of EVs when factoring in raw material mining and overall vehicle production.

Since the Prius was launched in 1997, Toyota says it has sold more than 20 million electrified vehicles worldwide. The company said these sales avoided 160 million tons of CO2 emissions, equivalent to the impact of 5.5 million all-electric battery cars.

“Toyota can produce eight 40-mile plug-in hybrids for every 320-mile battery electric vehicle and save up to eight times the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere,” according to prepared comments for Toyota to the media.

Toyota’s reluctance to launch all-electric vehicles has been criticized by environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, which has ranked the Japanese automaker at the bottom of its auto-industry decarbonization rankings over the past two years.

Standing pat with dealers

Toyota has no plans to overhaul its franchised dealership network as it invests in electrified vehicles, as some competitors have announced.

“I know you’re worried about the future. I know you’re worried about how this business will change. While I can’t predict the future, I can promise you this: you, me, us, this business, this franchise model is not going anywhere. . It’s just the way it is,” he said to applause from vendors.

The franchised dealer model is under pressure Tesla And new EV startups have begun selling directly to consumers rather than through traditional dealers.

GM has offered to buy out Buick and Cadillac dealers who don’t want to invest in EVs, while Ford announced last month that dealers looking to sell EVs must be certified under one of two programs — with an investment of $500,000 or $1.2 million.

‘happy dance’

As part of his light-hearted and humorous remarks to dealers, Toyoda said he was dancing when the automaker overtook GM for the first time in the U.S. last year.

Despite Toyota executives saying the achievement was unsustainable — GM led in the first half of the year — Toyota still thought it was cause for celebration.

“At Toyota, we like to keep our heads down and not talk about our successes,” Toyoda said before reenacting the dance on stage. “But when I heard you were number one in the US last year, I actually did a little happy dance in my office.”

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