UPDATE 2-Toyota President Calls Meeting California's Zero Emissions 'Difficult'

UPDATE 2-Toyota President Calls Meeting California’s Zero Emissions ‘Difficult’

(Adds comments from Toyota President, White House meeting details, dealer comment, background)

By David Shepardson

LAS VEGAS, Sept 29 (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp Chairman Akio Toyoda said California’s new zero-emissions requirements aimed at ending sales of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035 will be “difficult” to meet. respect.

“In realistic terms, it seems rather difficult to really reach them,” Toyoda said Thursday through a translator during a panel discussion with reporters.

Toyoda, who has led the company since 2009, has defended Toyota’s electric vehicle strategy and development plans, which have come under fire from some environmental groups and investors who want the company to accelerate the adoption of battery electric vehicles. (BEV).

“But just like the fully self-driving cars we were all supposed to be driving now, BEVs are going to take longer to become mainstream than the media would have us believe,” Toyoda told dealers at a meeting on Wednesday, according to a video of the event.

Automakers face growing pressure from regulators to sell more zero-emission vehicles. New York Governor Kathy Hochul said Thursday that the state plans to adopt California’s requirements.

In August, Toyota announced it would increase its planned investment in a new battery plant in the United States from $1.29 billion to $3.8 billion, partly in response to growing consumer demand for electric vehicles. Toyota, California’s top-selling auto brand, last month recognized the state’s authority to set vehicle emissions standards under the U.S. Clean Air Act.

Toyoda, the grandson of the company’s founder, said in Wednesday’s video that “playing to win means playing with all the cards in the deck – not just a few. So that’s our strategy and we stick to it.” .” Video from the day before was released during Thursday’s event.

Toyoda likened the automaker to a “department store” selling a variety of vehicles to customers with different needs.

Toyoda highlighted the challenges of adopting electric vehicles, including impacts on the power grid and the lack of easy access to electricity for around 1 billion people around the world.

Toyota dealership Steve Gates, who does business in Kentucky and Indiana, said the automaker’s approach of selling a variety of vehicles makes sense. “You can’t make a living just selling electric vehicles,” Gates said.

Toyota’s corporate vision “is to bring freedom of mobility to everyone…and we don’t want to leave anyone behind,” Toyoda added.

Last year, the Japanese automaker committed about $30 billion to developing battery-electric vehicles. It expects the company’s annual sales of these cars to reach just 3.5 million vehicles by the end of the decade, or about a third of its current annual gasoline car sales.

Toyota has received praise from the Biden administration for its electric vehicle investment plans after clashing with the White House over a proposal for an electric vehicle tax credit dropped by the administration that would have benefited unionized automakers.

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden on a trip to Detroit briefly met Tetsuo Ogawa, Toyota’s top executive in North America, officials told Reuters.

Biden wants 50% of new vehicles by 2030 to be electric vehicles or PHEVs, but he hasn’t approved a firm date to end sales of gasoline vehicles.

Toyoda showed off his dance moves on Wednesday, telling dealers he celebrated after Toyota dethroned General Motors Co in 2021 as the top-selling automaker in the United States, the first time GM hasn’t held the first place since 1931.

“I actually did a little ‘happy dance’ in my office,” Toyoda said. “Fortunately, no one saw him! (Reporting by David Shepardson in Las Vegas Editing by Leslie Adler and Matthew Lewis)

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