On April 1, 2022, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda made a welcoming speech to all the new employees at Toyota City where he made a very remarkable statement about EVs. He said, “As we work to create a carbon-neutral society, cars are currently undergoing a great transformation. ‘All must become battery electric vehicles.’ I’m sure you’ve all heard such comments. I do not think that is quite right. Toyota’s cars are used by customers all over the world. In deserts. In sub-zero temperatures. Even in such harsh environments, Toyota’s cars sustain people’s lives and livelihoods.”
Basically, Mr. Toyoda is saying that because Toyota’s cars serve everyone for every purpose, from sports cars to pickups to off-roading legends, not everything needs to be electric. Think of it this way, someone who lives in northern Siberia needs to get around from point A to point B without ruining his suspension. What does he drive? More than likely he’ll be driving a Toyota Hilux or maybe a Toyota Sequoia. Some sort of SUV, right? And if he lives in Siberia, they get cold as their default weather.
Making a heavy EV SUV with a lot of range is going to be hard considering the maker would need to accommodate for the range lost due to heater use to keep the car warm. That’s why a lot of cars in Siberia, Vladivostok, Canada, and Sweden are either powered with petrol or natural gas.
Toyota sees this because they sell a lot of pickups in the deserts and jungles, and offroad capable SUVs in the mountainous and snowy regions. It just isn’t a very efficient option to make these cars only electric. Perhaps making them hybrid, which they already have is the better solution. Mr. Toyoda also said that he wants to reach carbon neutrality “while keeping as many options as possible open for our customers around the world.”
So, what does this mean? We have all noticed Toyota’s late entrance into the EV market with their debut of the 2022 Toyota BZ4X last year which will be said to be shipping out this summer. This may be the reason why Toyota is so late to the game.
I like electric cars; I see them every day and a few of my friends drive EVs. However, I see Mr. Toyoda’s point of not closing options for other customers just for the sake of carbon neutrality. I feel for the Siberian villager who maybe wants a new Hilux but doesn’t want to waste half the battery just on a heater.
Therefore, other EV makers like Tesla and GM are really starting to see success in their sales. Tesla never had a reputation or customer base as being the “truck of the middle east.” Or the “SUV off-roader of Siberia.” GM may have that reputation in America, but I highly doubt the GMC Sierra is the most liked truck in Africa or Iraq where they drive old Hilux pickups.
While I doubt Toyota will fully embrace EV-only production, at least at this stage, I think that they will continue to show success as both a hybrid and EV automaker.
By the way, Torque News’ YouTube Channel made a video about Toyoda’s thoughts on EVs. Check that out if you want a better insight.
What do you think? Should Toyota embrace full EV-only production? When do you think this would be feasible?
Harutiun Hareyan is reporting Toyota news at Torque News. His automotive interests and vast experience test-riding new cars give his stories a sense of authenticity and unique insights. Follow Harutiun on Twitter at @HareyanHarutiun for daily Toyota news.