Toyota Chairman calls for a third of cars to be hybrids by 2016
In a speech today to the Economic Club of Washington DC, Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada challenged the auto industry to make fully a third of cars sold in the US hybrids by the end 2016. Mr. Uchiyamada is often called the father of the Prius. In his speech today he noted just how popular the Prius has become for Toyota and called on the auto industry to do much more to make the US vehicle fleet hybrid driven.
Mr. Uchiyamada’s speech began with a little history of the Prius. Saying the car was not easy to build, but rather extremely challenging, he revealed that the gas mileage goal put huge stress on him personally. He said “This was major pressure, the most intense I had ever experienced.” That is saying something given the fact that he played a key role in the company during the 2008 financial collapse, 2010 unintended recall fiasco, and the tsunami which wiped out much of Toyota’s key supply base.
Revealing that he sees the Prius as “most important vehicle for our (Toyota’s) future” he went on to explain that in his view the full hybrid and plug-in hybrid is not really a “bridge” technology to get the world to some other propulsion system. If it is, he sees it as a “very long bridge.” Highlighting that Plug-in Hybrids come with many of the same environmental gains as electric vehicles, but with no range anxiety, this visionary pointed out some basic truths about EVs without speaking much about them. He also touched on the fact that Toyota has a fuel cell car coming in the next couple of years.
Mr. Uchiyamada’s speech will be remembered as the time that Toyota’s Chairman called on all automakers to work together to sell a cumulative 5 million hybrids in the US market by the end of the 2016 business year. Considering that Toyota had sold 3 million Prius vehicles by June of this year, this should be a goal that can be met. Another important point not made is that although Mr. Uchiyamada is talking about full hybrids (that can run on electricity part of the time), more and more hybrid technology is seeping into the fleet with every redesign. We may very well reach the objectives of the goal sooner and not even realize it was hybrids that made it possible.