Toyota Motor Corp (NYSE:TM) (TYO:7203), the largest automotive manufacturer, is being accused by critics of lobbying against the adoption of electric vehicles in the U.S. Congress. The Japanese giant is seeking support for a hybrid future where its interests lie.
For Toyota, the automotive future is more hybrid than electric. This is why, according to The New York Times, a high-ranking senior executive for Toyota, Chris Reynolds, has apparently held meetings with members of Congress.
With these encounters, sources say, the company is pressing for the adoption of hybrid and hydrogen-powered vehicles, so it can have more time to catch up with its EV competitors, some of them well ahead in the race to electric vehicle adoption.
While Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F), Volkswagen Group (ETR:VOW3), Hyundai Motor Co (KRX:005380), and Volvo AB Class B (STO:VOLV-B) have all launched at least one EV model, Toyota has unveiled one electric prototype, the bZ4X, after announcing 15 more ready for deployment by 2025.
In the past, Toyota had its own view on electric vehicles. They were mainly destined to be urban and everyday cars, while hybrid or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles were better for medium to larger distances.
However, according to The Drive, the company’s long-term strategy is for hydrogen to become more prominent than battery-electric power.
“In the automaker's eyes, it just makes more sense as hydrogen vehicles are lighter due to fewer battery cells and refuel faster via the onboard fuel cell. However, the research into FCEVs seems to have slowed Toyota's actual development of modern BEVs.”
A big blow
For mobility expert James Carter, Toyota’s stance on EVs has drawn the ire of investors and environmentalists –groups they previously owned. “With [Tesla’s] Model 3 alone doubling Lexus passenger car sales in the U.S., customers might just agree.”
He asserts that the outwardly anti-EV stance has done enough to damage the company's reputation, “and there's going to be a need for a lot of work to undo the situation.”
However, he says, Toyota needs to get on the EV bandwagon, “and do it quickly before more damage is done.”
A company spokesperson was quoted as saying in the Times: “We agree and embrace the fact that all-electric vehicles are the future … Too little attention is being paid to what happens between today, when 98% of the cars and trucks sold are powered at least in part by gasoline, and that fully electrified future.”