Akio Toyoda speaks his mind. Again. He doesn't mince words.
Toyota president Akio Toyoda has, once again, publicly called into question the decision by several automakers to phase out internal combustion passenger vehicles in favor of pure battery electrics only. As a brief recap, the Toyota scion, lifelong car fan, and racing driver has previously called out the drawbacks of EVs, such as the necessary infrastructure required to support them and the need to acquire vast amounts of rare-earth minerals to build their batteries.
Speaking to The Wall Street Journal and other media outlets earlier this week in Thailand, where an electric Hilux pickup was revealed, Toyoda clearly continues to express doubt about the exclusive use of EVs. Only this time he said that a "silent majority" shares his beliefs. They're just too afraid to speak out.
"People involved in the auto industry are largely a silent majority," he said. "That silent majority is wondering whether EVs are really OK to have as a single option. But they think it's the trend so they can't speak out loudly."
Toyoda added that he continues to express these thoughts to governments and stakeholders. "Because the right answer is still unclear, we shouldn't limit ourselves to just one option," he added. General Motors and Honda are just two prime examples of automakers who have already set dates for the final phase-out of combustion-engined vehicles. Toyota, however, continues to invest in multiple powertrain technologies, specifically hydrogen fuel cell, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids.
The latest generation Prius was just launched, and potentially, more powerful versions could arrive later. The bZ4X EV is already on sale, and the RAV4 and Corolla hybrids continue to sell in very high numbers. The hydrogen-powered Mirai is only available for sale in California.
Don't expect Toyoda's latest comments to spark any major industry changes immediately (if at all), but they serve as a reminder that internal combustion won't be leaving the scene anytime soon.
Last August, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) passed a plan that requires all new passenger vehicles sold in the state to be electrified by 2035. "Electrified," in this case, means either BEV or PHEV.
That's good news for Toyota and not placing all of its eggs into one basket, especially if battery material costs keep rising. It's impossible to predict the future, but with Toyota's business strategy, it'll be in a better position to protect itself from potential industry, government, and supply chain disruptions.