Toyota CEO doubles down on EV strategy amid criticism it's not moving fast enough

Toyota CEO doubles down on EV strategy amid criticism it’s not moving fast enough

A Toyota bZ4X on display at the New York Auto Show, April 13, 2022.

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

LAS VEGAS — Toyota Motor is sticking with its electric vehicle strategy, including hybrids like the Prius, following criticism from some investors and environmental groups that the company is moving too slowly to electric vehicles.

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda, who has crafted a corporate strategy around the idea that electric vehicles are not the only solution for automakers to achieve carbon neutrality, said on Thursday that the company will forward with plans to offer a range of so-called electrified vehicles for the foreseeable future – ranging from hybrids and plug-ins to all-electric and hydrogen-powered electric vehicles.

“It will be up to customers to decide,” he said through a translator at a small media roundtable, a day after addressing the company’s Toyota dealerships at their annual conference. in Las Vegas.

Toyoda addressed the need to win over skeptics of the company’s strategy, including government officials focusing regulations on fully electric battery-powered vehicles, saying the automaker will “present the hard facts” on consumer adoption. consumers and the overall environmental impact of producing electric vehicles versus hybrid electrified vehicles. .

Since the launch of the Prius in 1997, Toyota claims to have sold more than 20 million electrified vehicles worldwide. The company says these sales avoided 160 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, equivalent to the impact of 5.5 million fully electric battery vehicles.

Toyoda’s remarks echoed comments he made to thousands of Toyota dealers and employees on Wednesday, saying the company will play “with all the cards in the deck” and offer a wide range of vehicles to all clients.

“That’s our strategy and we’re sticking to it,” Toyoda, who described himself as a “car guy or car nerd,” said in a recording of remarks shown to reporters.

Toyoda doubled down on company expectations that the adoption of all-electric vehicles “will take longer to become mainstream” than many realize. He said it would be “difficult” to meet recent regulations that call for a ban on traditional internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035, as California and New York have announced they will adopt.

Toyota executives, while increasing investment in all-electric vehicles, have argued that these cars and trucks are a solution, not the solution, to meeting tougher global emissions standards and achieving carbon neutrality. Toyota continues to invest in alternatives as well as hybrid vehicles such as the Prius, which combine electric vehicle technology with traditional internal combustion engines.

The company said its strategy was justified as not all regions of the world will adopt electric vehicles at the same rate due to the high cost of vehicles as well as lack of infrastructure.

Toyota’s strategy 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 for the past two years.

Toyota plans to invest about $70 billion in electrified vehicles, including $35 billion in all-electric battery technologies over the next nine years. It plans to offer around 70 electrified models worldwide by 2025.

Toyota expects to sell about 3.5 million all-electric vehicles a year by 2030, which would be only about a third of its current annual sales.

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