2021 Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell Hybrid Car
Peter Neilson's picture

What Is Toyota's Plan With All Their Hybrids?

In the U.S. Toyota only seems to be interested in one thing, hybrids. What does this mean for their future if the whole world seems to be going electric?
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If we all had access to a time-traveling DeLorean and decided to go back to the late '90s, we would laugh at the naysayers who looked at Prius and said no. Toyota rolled the dice, put it all on black, and sent it. Other automakers laughed, some people questioned it, but the fact is, Prius made the hybrid world what it is today.

Fast forward over 20 years, and where have we come from that time? Toyota has added a substantial amount of hybrid cars to their line up and plans to keep doing so, and why not? They have proven technology that has carried them through decades of vehicle sales and happy consumers.

My question is if cars like Tesla, Rivian, and others are going to be the future, why is Toyota not on board with going electric? Take a look at what I think is going on and why Toyota is rolling that dice again.

If It Is Not Broke Do Not Fix It
There is something to be said about reinventing the wheel. Sure, there may be a few tweaks here and there you can do to make some improvements, but honestly, to what benefit? Toyota has made a massive market with selling hybrid cars like the Prius. Toyota seems to be staying the course with hybrids and show many signs of adding more.

2020 corolla hybrid white driving

Toyota has made a market that they specialize in, so why would they want to change what they are doing? I do not think they do want to change, rather be the leaders in new technology. What I mean by that is Toyota has dabbled in the EV market but never taken it over. Instead, they have emphasized a https://www.torquenews.com/8113/new-battery-could-make-toyota-prius-ultimate-plug-hybrid-hybrid base that is showing little sign of promise at the moment.

Toyota is not in a rush to jump into a market; they do not fully believe in electric cars. They have an award-winning line up of hybrids they know will sell to consumers who love the products.

Bets Are On A New Fuel Source
Hydrogen Fuel-Cell, ever heard of it? Few have, and for a good reason, there are hardly any out there. Toyota has placed a massive stake in a technology that still needs further development.

Hydrogen may be the most abundant element on earth, but harnessing said power is somewhat tricky. Currently, hydrogen must be stripped away from natural gas to be harnessed and stored. The issue with that is we are still leaving a huge carbon footprint. It takes a lot of energy to compress and store hydrogen, and we are also using a "fossil fuel" to produce the hydrogen. Even though fuel cell technology has zero tailpipe emissions, the cost of getting it to that point nearly outweighs the benefits.

Toyota is not a stupid company; they take very calculated risks and know right where they need to land. So why fuel cell over EV? My theory is that they are banking on EV never meeting the potential of FC (fuel cell) and that people will want a more conventional type of car over an EV.

Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell Stack

Utilizing FC technology also allows Toyota to keep its existing hybrid technology that is proven. Making the transition from gasoline hybrid to FC hybrid is far less of a learning curve for conventional gasoline/diesel drivers. You still drive the car like a hybrid and fill it almost the same way as a traditional gasoline car.

Conclusion
I bet that Toyota will ride the FC train until it takes off for sure, or it dies out miserably. There has been little talk of Toyota doing a full EV lineup or even having one at all.

Toyota is producing more hybrids to stay as competitive as they can in the market. They are leveraging this time to continue building out a fuel cell fleet and the infrastructure to fuel them. Right now, hybrids are their key to a brighter future, but we will see how that plays out with the massive rise in EV sales.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to seeing you in the next story. Toyota, Honda and Hyundai Crusade For Hydrogen While Tesla Stock Soars

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Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter is also an Instructor of Automotive Technology at Columbia Basin College. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting. Read more of Peter's stories at Toyota news coverage on Torque News. Search Toyota Prius Torque News for more in depth Prius coverage from our reporters.


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Comments

Toyota is electrifying as the market accepts electrification. People are totally good with going with a PHEV like the RAV4 Prime, but most are not ok going full EV. I predict Toyota will continue to expand their PHEV offerings. When the market is truly willing to embrace full EVs, then Toyota will evolve their lineup, with cars, SUVs and trucks that they know from experience their customers want and will buy in large enough numbers to make sense. They don't need to engineer a totally new vehicle to go all EV, just evolve already popular models to an EV platform, bringing along a large customer base in the process.