Akio Toyoda has a message for the Japanese government.
It's no secret Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda is not a fan of battery-electric vehicles. He's not outright against the technology, but rather convinced the automaker founded by his late grandfather shouldn't be putting all of its eggs into one basket. This is in contrast to General Motors and other rivals who've already pledged commitments to an all-electric future. Toyoda has been criticized for his beliefs but the guy refuses to back down, specifically regarding Japanese government policy.
Speaking at the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, via Toyota Times, the automotive scion warned that Japan's greenhouse emissions reduction goals will seriously damage the country's economy. Japan aims to be carbon neutral by 2050. "In achieving carbon neutrality, the enemy is carbon dioxide, not internal combustion," he said.
"To reduce carbon dioxide emissions, it is necessary to have practical and sustainable initiatives that are in line with different situations in various countries and regions." That's why the carmaker sells hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and the hydrogen fuel cell Toyota Mirai. It's called diversifying the powertrain portfolio. Suddenly changing entirely to EVs will also cost Japan dearly, Toyoda believes.
"Japan is an export-reliant country. Thus, carbon neutrality is tantamount to an issue of employment for Japan. Some politicians are saying that we need to turn all cars into EVs or that the manufacturing industry is an outmoded one. But I don't think that is the case. To protect the jobs and lives of Japanese people, I think it is necessary to bring our future in line with our efforts so far."
Around 10 million vehicles are built yearly in Japan from domestic brands including Toyota, Honda, and Subaru. Around 5 million vehicles are exported. By 2030, Toyoda points to data predicting total domestic output will drop to 8 million vehicles annually, all of which will have combustion engines. If those vehicles are banned roughly five years later from many markets, including the US, then Japan's auto industry will be in serious trouble. Some 5.5 million jobs could be eliminated. "If they say internal combustion engines are the enemy, we would not be able to produce almost any vehicles."
Toyoda is of the firm belief that hybrids and PHEVs are the best solutions for the foreseeable future. This would allow suppliers and factories to remain running, few (if any) layoffs, and a more balanced economic path towards carbon neutrality.