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Toyota Should Have Invested in Charging Infrastructure Like Tesla and This Is What Would Happen

Imagine what would happen if Toyota used its vast resources and started to build a charging network for electric cars 10 years ago.

Yesterday I published a story at Torque News discussing Toyota's hybrid and PHEV strategy. In that story I said that Toyota's PHEV and hybrid vehicle strategy vs its EV strategy is a calculated move, and is not that Toyota missed the bus on electric vehicles.

One of my readers commented and said, "Toyota is part of the problem. They could have invested in charging infrastructure over the last 10 years like Tesla and meaningfully address consumer concerns about EVs but it’s more profitable in the short term for them to throw shade on EVs and pump out gas guzzlers for as long as they can get away with it."

Is this true? What would have happened if Toyota invested in EV charging network ten years ago like Tesla?

Remember that Toyota is the world's largest automaker. It has been a major player in the gas-powered car industry for decades. However, Toyota's approach to electric vehicles has been hesitant at best. While Tesla, a relative newcomer compared to Toyota, has aggressively built out its own charging network, Toyota has focused on promoting hybrid technology and downplaying the viability of EVs. This strategy, while potentially profitable in the short term, could leave Toyota behind in the long run.

What Is The Biggest EV Buying Concern and How Tesla Addressed It?

One of the biggest hurdles to widespread EV adoption is what's known as "range anxiety." Car buyers worry about running out of power before reaching a charging station, especially on long trips. Tesla addressed this concern by building a vast network of Superchargers, high-speed charging stations strategically located along major highways. This network provides Tesla owners with peace of mind and a significant advantage over drivers of other EVs.

Toyota, on the other hand, has taken a different approach. Toyota has publicly questioned the environmental benefits of EVs, pointing to the carbon footprint of battery production. They've also foocused on promoting their hybrid technology as a "bridge" to full electrification, implying that pure EVs aren't quite ready for prime time.

What Would Have Happened If Toyota Built an EV Charging Infrastructure Alongside Tesl?

Imagine a scenario where Toyota, alongside Tesla, had invested heavily in charging infrastructure over the past decade. Here's what could have happened: faster EV adoption, standardized charging network, increased competition and Toyota's leadership in sustainability.

1. A robust charging network would have alleviated range anxiety, a major barrier for many potential EV buyers. This could have led to a much faster transition to electric vehicles, with a significant impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combating climate change.

2. Tesla's Supercharger network uses a proprietary connector, meaning drivers of other EVs cannot use it without an adapter. If Toyota had joined forces with other automakers to develop a universal charging standard, it would have created a more seamless experience for all EV drivers.

3. A well-developed charging infrastructure, led by a consortium including Toyota, would have spurred competition in the EV market. This could have resulted in a wider variety of EVs at more competitive prices, benefiting consumers.

4. By taking a proactive stance on charging infrastructure, Toyota could have positioned itself as a leader in the transition to sustainable transportation. This could have enhanced their brand image and attracted environmentally conscious consumers.

Toyota's Benefits Would Have Domino Effect Beyond Charging Stations

The positive effects wouldn't have stopped at charging stations. Here's a ripple effect of potential benefits if Toyota invested in EV charging network alongside Tesla: battery innovation, grid modernization and renewable energy growth.

A larger EV market would have driven demand for more efficient and affordable batteries. This would have pushed battery research and development, leading to breakthroughs that could benefit all electric devices, not just cars.

Widespread EV adoption would necessitate upgrades to the power grid to handle the increased demand for electricity. This investment could lead to a more resilient and efficient grid that benefits everyone, not just EV drivers.

A shift towards EVs would create a greater demand for clean energy sources like solar and wind power. This could accelerate the development of renewable energy infrastructure, creating a cleaner energy future for all.

Challenges and Considerations of Building a Nationwide EV Charging Network

Of course, building a nationwide charging network isn't without its challenges. These include: cost, location planning and standardization

The initial investment required to build a comprehensive infrastructure is significant. Public-private partnerships and government incentives would be crucial to make this viable.

Strategically placing charging stations along major highways and in urban areas is key. This requires careful planning and collaboration with local governments.

As mentioned earlier, a universal charging standard is essential for a smooth user experience. Collaboration among automakers and industry leaders is key to achieving this.

Currently What Charging System Does Toyota Use?

For their electric vehicles (bZ4X model):Toyota uses the standard J1772 connector for Level 1 and Level 2 AC charging. This is a common connector used by most EVs in North America.They also include compatibility with the CCS1 connector for DC Fast Charging (Level 3). This allows for faster charging at compatible stations.

While Toyota hasn't built their own extensive charging network like Tesla, their EVs are compatible with existing public charging infrastructure that uses J1772 and CCS1 connectors. Additionally, their recent announcement to adopt the North American Charging Standard (NACS) in 2025 signifies a shift towards greater access to public charging networks, including Tesla Superchargers.

Toyota's Road Ahead: A Chance to Course Correct

While Toyota may have missed the early boat on charging infrastructure, it's not too late to course correct. By investing in charging networks alongside other automakers and advocating for government support, Toyota can still play a significant role in accelerating EV adoption. This can benefit not just their bottom line but also the environment and the future of transportation.

The transition to a sustainable transportation future will require collaboration between automakers, governments, and the energy sector. By working together to build a robust charging infrastructure and invest in renewable energy, we can create a cleaner and more efficient transportation system for everyone. Toyota, with its vast resources and experience, has a unique opportunity to be a leader in this crucial endeavor. The question remains: will they seize it?

Do you think it's too late for Toyota to catch up in the EV race, or can they still become a leader in electric transportation? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Armen Hareyan is the founder and the Editor in Chief of Torque News. He founded in 2010, which since then has been publishing expert news and analysis about the automotive industry. He can be reached at Torque News TwitterFacebookLinkedin, and Youtube. He has more than a decade of expertise in the automotive industry with a special interest in Tesla and electric vehicles.


Yan (not verified)    April 10, 2024 - 8:03AM

1 thing for very sure when mentioned Toyota, they rather play it safe. The term 'reliability' goes hand in hand with Toyota. If EV is the way forward Toyota might have jumped and leaped 10 or 100 times forward with this technology, but it is obvious they are not, which tells a lot.

Tim Polit (not verified)    April 10, 2024 - 8:05AM

Toyota is one of the only few major car brands that listens to its customers and continues building cars that the "vast majority" of people need, want and can afford!

Gerald (not verified)    April 10, 2024 - 8:07AM

Toyota makes way too much money keeping things the way they are. They're not interested in change they're doing fine as is.

Gerald (not verified)    April 10, 2024 - 8:14AM

In reply to by Christopher (not verified)

Chris you do know that hydrogen cars are electric cars, right? With a hydrogen car, the hydrogen produces electricity which powers electric motors which make the car move. Hydrogen cars ARE electric cars.

Matt Moreno (not verified)    April 10, 2024 - 10:09AM

It's too late for Toyota. They are too far behind on EV technology and will be the Kodak/Nokia of cars in the next decade. They don't have the leadership or the capital to survive.

Scott V (not verified)    April 10, 2024 - 10:10AM

In reply to by Matt Moreno (not verified)

Matt, Fisker, Ford, Tesla, all are struggling. Tesla is probably in the best position though, but have kept lowering their prices on their vehicles to generate sales, which then devalues other Teslas as well. Ford is laying off folks and stopping production of batteries and their Lightning. Fisker is preparing to file for bankruptcy... for the second time since 2012.
You have to question, are EVs really viable in the long-run or are they a fad, promoted and pushed by our government, despite what the market and consumers really want?