Has it got a lot to do with what car buyers are shopping for?
Once praised for introducing hybrid technology to the mass market, the tables have turned for Toyota. The company is repeatedly being criticized for not committing to an electric future, even though it's promised a slew of EVs that will arrive in the coming years. The angular Toyota bZ4X is already available locally but some say this isn't enough. Surely a powerhouse like Toyota should have had several more offerings already available by 2022?
Well, it's all down to customer preference, reports Reuters. Speaking at Toyota's AGM, Chief Technology Officer Masahiko Maeda said the company has to provide a wide variety of vehicle options for consumers. This answer hasn't gone down well with some groups; Danish fund AkademikerPension has accused Toyota of working against the industry-wide transition to EV and despite huge plans for EV infrastructure.
It told Reuters in a statement that "Toyota used the pretext of customer choices to avoid answering the question about lobbying activities... to slow the transition towards fossil-fuel-free cars."
Whatever the case may be, Toyota cannot be criticized for not introducing electric vehicles at all. Just this week, rumors emerged which suggest the company will introduce a smaller C-HR-based EV as soon as next year. As mentioned, the Japanese automaker also pioneered hybrid technology on the Prius and continues to innovate with the Mirai.
The sleekly styled, hydrogen-powered Mirai sedan is a unique way of approaching carbon-neutral motoring - something Toyota believes can be achieved through taking different paths. Toyota's train of thought (also shared by BMW's CEO) is that hybrids make more sense in areas where there's no infrastructure to support purely electric vehicles.
Seiji Sugiura, a senior analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute, told the news agency he believes Toyota's approach is where the problem lies. "There is a gap between Toyota, which approaches decarbonization in a 'pragmatic' way, and environmental groups that call for immediate action."
The Japanese automaker is placing a lot of faith in alternative energy sources. Aside from the Mirai pictured below, the company has applied hydrogen technology in the motorsport realm and is already working on a hydrogen version of the Corolla Cross.
Toyota didn't become the world's largest automaker by chance; it ascended to pole position by implementing intelligent decisions throughout the years and by serving the customer. We agree that EVs should be offered to clients and markets where they make sense but, as it stands, many countries simply aren't ready to adapt to a fully-electric future.
Serving those areas and providing alternatives such as hybrid vehicles (while pursuing hydrogen technology) seems to make the most sense - and it's something Porsche hopes to do as well. The Taycan and upcoming Macan EV will serve a key purpose, but the Zuffenhausen-based brand is not giving up on eFuel, a synthetic alternative that may see the combustion engine live longer than expected.