Kurt Verlin
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Toyota Doubles Down on EV Strategy, Again

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2022 Toyota Tundra i-FORCE MAX Hybrid Powertrain
Photo: Toyota

Amid criticism that it isn’t jumping aboard the EV train quickly enough, Toyota is doubling down on its electrification strategy. During an annual dealer conference in Las Vegas, president and CEO Akio Toyoda reinforced what could now be considered the company’s motto when it comes to delaying a full EV lineup: “That’s our strategy and we’re sticking to it,” he said.

Toyota’s stance is that while carbon neutrality is important, EVs are not the only solution for automakers to reach it. Toyoda believes mainstream EV adoption is “going to take longer than the media would like us to believe.” Facing pressure to meet tightening global emissions standards, Toyota will “present the hard facts” to government officials about consumer adoption and the environmental impact of hybrid vehicles.

Related: Toyota reveals all-new 2023 Crown hybrid luxury sedan

Since the Prius — the first mass-produced hybrid car — launched in 1997, Toyota has sold over 20 million electrified vehicles globally. According to the company, these sales have helped avoid 160 million tons of CO2 emissions, equivalent to about 5.5 million battery-electric vehicles. “Our investments may appear smaller than others’, but when you look at what Toyota has been doing over the last 20 years, the total amount might not necessarily be small,” Toyoda said.

In other words, while Greenpeace has put Toyota at the bottom of its ranking of global automakers’ decarbonization efforts, Toyoda argues that with its roster of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell cars, the company his grandfather founded is actually a “top runner” in reducing worldwide carbon emissions.

The Toyota CEO added that the main hesitance toward fully committing to EVs has to do with the lack of recharging infrastructure, which he expects will slow down EV adoption rates. Toyota doesn’t think it is feasible for automakers to simultaneously meet increasingly strict environmental standards, serve diverse markets, and boost sales without offering a diversified vehicle lineup that includes every type of powertrain.

That’s not to say Toyota isn’t investing in EVs at all. The company pledged to spend approximately $28 billion to produce 30 different EV models by 2030, including $13.5 billion in solid-state battery technology and North American electric manufacturing alone. But that’s only a fraction of what some of its competitors are spending. Whether it will be enough remains to be seen.