Despite automakers embracing fully electric cars, Toyota will still focus on hybrids for the foreseeable future.
While automakers are starting to embrace electric cars, Toyota is best known for its revolutionary hybrid-electric cars – a segment the Japanese automaker will continue to prioritize over the next ten years and beyond, despite the onslaught of EVs flooding the market. "We believe that hybrids will come ahead of full electrics," Shinzuo Abe, Toyota's executive general manager of Toyota's powertrain division, said in an interview with Wards Auto. Though the company recognizes that some companies are focusing on pure EVs.
"We believe that our biggest weapon for meeting fuel-efficiency and CO2 regulations, not just in Europe but globally, will continue to be hybrids," he continued. Abe said Toyota expects sales of conventional hybrids to hit four million units in 2030 out of a total 10 million units. While Toyota is planning to launch 10 new EVs in the near future, the automaker only expects to sell "several hundred thousand" units in 2030. Why is Toyota reluctant to jump on the EV bandwagon? Abe believes the biggest problem with EVs right now is lithium batteries because they're expensive, large and heavy.
He's also unhappy with their "deterioration characteristics," as batteries lose capacity over time and the inconvenience of having to charge them up. "We need to make it possible for users to charge their cars with no inconvenience," he said. According to Abe, if Toyota developed a Prius-sized electric car it would require a 40 kWh lithium-ion battery to have a range of around 250 miles. The battery could cost between $7,338 and $9,173, and even if batteries prices were halved by 2025 he still doesn't think pure electric cars would have mass appeal. "It is not so simple as the cost of batteries coming down. The cars themselves must appeal to consumers," he said.
Abe clearly isn't a fan of lithium-ion batteries, but he's much more enamoured with high-performance solid state batteries and said Toyota intends to start producing them "as soon as possible." Reports had suggested Toyota will introduce a solid state EV in the early 2020s, but Abe admitted that it won't be possible to mass produce them in that time and that 2030 is a "more realistic timeframe."