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

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

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

LAS VEGAS – Toyota Motor is standing by its electric vehicle strategy, which includes hybrids like the Prius, after criticism from some investors and environmental groups that the company is transitioning too slowly to electric vehicles.

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda, who built a corporate strategy around the idea that EVs Not the only solution for automakers to achieve carbon neutrality, the company said on Thursday the company will continue with its plan to deliver a range of so-called electrified vehicles for the future. near-hybrid – from hybrid and plug-in to all-electric and hydrogen electric vehicles.

“Everything will be decided by the customer,” he said through an interpreter during a small roundtable meeting with the media, a day after speaking to the company’s Toyota dealers at the annual conference. theirs in Las Vegas.

Toyoda mentions the need to convince skeptics of the company’s strategy, including government officials to centralize regulations on all-battery vehicles, that the automaker will ” presents the hard truth” about consumer acceptance and the overall environmental impact of producing electric versus hybrid electric vehicles. .

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

Toyoda’s comments echo comments he made to thousands of Toyota dealers and employees on Wednesday that the company will play “with all the cards in the deck” and offer a wide range of vehicles for all customers.

“That’s our strategy and we’re sticking to it,” Toyoda, who has described himself as “a car guy or a car geek,” said in an audio recording of comments for reporters.

Toyoda has doubled down on the company’s expectation that fully electric vehicle adoption will “take longer to become mainstream” than many thought. He said it would be “difficult” to implement recent regulations calling for a ban on traditional vehicles with internal combustion engines by 2035, such as California’s. and New York said they would adopt.

Toyota CEO, while increase investment in all-electric vehicles, argued that such cars and trucks were a solution, not a solution, to meeting tightening global emissions standards and achieving carbon neutrality. Toyota continues to invest in alternatives as well as hybrid vehicles such as the Prius, which combines EV technology with a traditional internal combustion engine.

The company says its strategy makes sense, as not all regions of the world will adopt electric vehicles at the same rate due to high vehicle costs and lack of infrastructure.

Toyota’s strategy has been criticized by environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, which have ranked the Japanese automaker at the bottom of a ranking of decarbonization in the auto industry for the past two years.

Toyota plans to invest about $70 billion in electric vehicles, including $35 billion in all-electric battery technology over nine years. It plans to deliver around 70 electric vehicle models globally by 2025.

Toyota plans to sell about 3.5 million all-electric vehicles a year by 2030, just about a third of its current annual sales.

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