Toyoda believes the electrical grid isn't ready for widespread EV adoption.
It's no secret that Toyota has been lagging behind the rest of the automotive industry regarding the changeover to EVs. Most manufacturers have already set a target for full electrification, though it's worth pointing out that some of them have backpedaled a bit.
While we're big fans of EVs and their positive attributes, we're certainly not blind to the challenges facing the automotive industry. Our recent one-year update on EV charging proved that infrastructure remains the most significant problem standing in the way of widespread adoption, and Toyota's CEO agrees.
In a recent press conference, Akio Toyoda mentioned the effects on the electrical grid and the lack of adequate charging infrastructure as the main stumbling blocks.
Toyoda was responding to recent legislation passed by the State of California. The State of New York also recently announced that it would adopt the same strategies, and on a federal level, President Biden is pushing for 50% EV sales by 2030.
"Realistically speaking, it seems rather difficult to really achieve [these goals]," Toyoda said during a roundtable interview with Reuters. "But just like the fully autonomous cars that we were all supposed to be driving by now, BEVs are just going to take longer to become mainstream than the media would like us to believe."
That's a fair jab at the media from one of the leading experts in the field. Mr. Toyoda has been leading the largest automotive manufacturer in the world since 2009, so we're inclined to pay attention when he makes the odd controversial statement.
Though the government has successfully forced several manufacturers to invest in American battery production, Toyota remains committed to its vision. "Playing to win means playing with all the cards in the deck - not just a select few. So that's our strategy, and we're sticking to it," said Toyoda.
He's referring to Toyota's future plans, which include every alternative fuel source available. Toyota invests heavily in BEVs, PHEVs, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles like the Mirai. Hyundai/Kia and BMW follow the same strategy, not putting all their eggs in one battery-powered basket.
The automotive industry is like a container ship. It takes a long time to change direction and doesn't cope particularly well with sudden changes.
Toyota does not want to leave anyone behind and knows that going full EV is not viable for some segments. A small city-bound crossover like the bZ4x is excellent, but the Japanese manufacturer will not build an electric truck until it can meet the needs of customers as well as an ICE car.
This statement is telling, especially when you look at the complete picture. While it's true Toyota has been slow to launch a BEV, it's not as far behind as some believe. Solid-state batteries are considered the next big step in the EV segment. Toyota owns 1,331 solid-state battery patents, more than any other manufacturer. The second place belongs to its main battery partner, Panasonic Holdings. It holds 445 patents.
Listening to Mr. Toyoda's comments might be a wise course of action. Toyota outsold General Motors in 2021, removing it from the top spot for the first time since 1931.