Recently, Toyota Chairman and former CEO Akio Toyoda spoke about the harsh reality of the EV market at the Japan Mobility Show in Tokyo. Toyoda has been highly critical of the EV agenda and its purported goal of saving the planet.
The Toyota chairman highlighted the declining consumer interest in battery-powered vehicles while arguing it demonstrates people are beginning to realize the cars are not the clean energy solution they claim to be.
“People are finally seeing reality” Toyoda said. “There are many ways to climb the mountain that is achieving carbon neutrality,” he said, implying that the flaws of EVs do not fit with the overall narrative that they will save the planet from carbon emissions.
Toyoda’s comments come as data shows the pace of EV adoption slowing down significantly. According to reports, EV sales increased by 49 percent during the first half of 2023. However, this substantially decreased from the 63 percent growth rate in the prior year.
In recent years, Toyota has garnered a reputation in the auto industry for expressing skepticism toward the mass rollout of EVs. Instead, the company has focused more on the availability of its hybrid vehicles, which Toyota deems a safer bet. Other senior leaders have expressed similar sentiments to Chairman Toyoda, citing the immaturity of the EV market as a hindrance to mass consumer adoption.
“For as much as people want to talk about EVs, the marketplace isn’t mature enough and ready enough, at the level we would need to have mass movement,” said Jack Hollis, executive vice president of sales at Toyota Motor North America.
Furthermore, at this point in the EV industry’s life cycle, buying an electric car might require significant lifestyle changes to accommodate the inconveniences presented by the lack of infrastructure and other shortcomings of these vehicles.
“We want to provide each person with a way that they can contribute the most to solving climate change. And we know that that answer is not to treat everybody the same way,” said Gill Pratt, Toyota chief scientist and CEO of the Toyota Research Institute.
Environmentalists have slammed Toyota’s hesitation to jump head-first into the EV agenda like other auto manufacturers have. “The fact is: a hybrid today is not green technology. The Prius hybrid runs on a pollution-emitting combustion engine found in any gas-powered car,” stated Katherine García, director of the Sierra Club’s Clean Transportation for All campaign.
The American Tribune has reported extensively on the pullback in the EV market, where many prominent automakers have revised their outlook and scrapped significant plans for their respective electric lineups. For example, Detroit-based General Motors had to revisit its EV targets as consumer demand was not meeting expectations.
“As we get further into the transformation to EV, it’s a bit bumpy, which is not unexpected,” GM Chief Executive Mary Barra said during a GM earnings call. “What we’re moving to is something that we can react in a much more agile way to make sure that we have the right vehicles.”
GM Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson also signaled that the company would be scaling back its EV production. According to the CFO, GM is “moderating the acceleration of EV production to protect our pricing, adjust to slower near-term growth in demand and implement engineering changes that will bolster profits”
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