Although more and more major automakers are diving deep into the world of electric vehicles, Toyota continues to remain cautious.
Toyota is among the world's biggest automakers, and the most profitable, though it has dragged its feet in the area of EVs, preferring to focus on hybrids as its primary solution for reducing emissions.
However, even with governments proposing, and in some cases confirming, plans to ban the sale of vehicles with internal-combustion engines, Toyota has no intention of going all in on EVs. The stance was reaffirmed by Toyota President Akio Toyoda on 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 am often criticized in the press because I won't declare that the automotive industry should commit 100% to BEV,” he said. “I believe we need to be realistic about when society will be able to fully adopt battery-electric vehicles and when our infrastructure can support them at scale.”
Toyoda compared the rush to EVs as similar to companies a few years back promising we'd all be riding around in self-driving cars by now. He said EVs, like self-driving cars, will take longer to become mainstream than most pundits proclaim.
He also said Toyota isn't a company that takes a “one-size-fits-all approach” to its products and that there are alternative solutions for meeting carbon neutrality goals. At Toyota, some of these solutions include carbon-neutral synthetic fuels, hydrogen fuel cells, and even engines that burn hydrogen. Toyoda said he sees hydrogen as just as promising as EVs in the fight against carbon emissions, especially for the transport industry, and that he recently drove a Yaris powered by hydrogen and was “blown away by its performance.”
Toyota Project Portal 2.0 fuel cell-powered semi-trailer truck
Toyoda also mentioned the importance of reducing carbon emissions throughout the production process, and not just at the local level. He said this extends to how materials are sourced, how cars are built, how their fuel is supplied, and how cars are disposed of.
“We must remember that carbon is the real enemy, not a particular powertrain, and that we can't reach carbon neutrality on our own,” he said. “It must be a group effort and include other industries beyond automotive.”
Despite the stance, Toyota will soon have one of the biggest EV lineups available, spanning both the Toyota and Lexus brands. In the U.S., it currently only offers the Toyota bZ4X crossover, and Lexus will soon offer the RZ crossover. The automaker a year ago said it plans to have 30 EVs available by 2030, and to sell around 3.5 million EVs annually by the same date. For reference, the automaker in 2021 sold around 10.5 million vehicles across its brands.