Toyota joined the electric vehicle scene later than others, but they’re trying to catch up. However, they’re not in a rush to go fully electric unless necessary.
In 2023, Toyota set a record by selling more cars than ever, but electric vehicles didn’t contribute much to this growth. Out of the 11,233,039 vehicles they sold, only 104,018 were electric.
That’s just 0.926 percent of all the cars sold by Toyota, Lexus, and their subsidiaries. Because of this, the company believes there’s still a demand for traditional combustion engines.
These numbers both show and mirror the company’s belief that the era of traditional combustion engines isn’t ending anytime soon.
In a speech to 200 corporate managers and executives, Chairman Akio Toyota restated the company’s commitment to a “major engine development project.” This aligns with his announcement at the 2024 Tokyo Auto Salon, where he emphasized their intention to continue focusing on engine development.
When talking to journalists, Toyota didn’t only discuss decarbonization. He also addressed the sensitive topic of jobs:
Toyota chairman:“If we suddenly switch to electric vehicles, I’m certain the 5.5 million people in Japan’s auto industry, who have dedicated their lives to working on engines, will begin to wonder, ‘What was the purpose of it all?’ Some of our suppliers involved in engine-related components struggle to secure loans from banks.”
In the Q&A session, Toyota shared his belief that battery electric vehicles (EVs) won’t surpass a 30 percent market share, even with technological progress. He predicts the other 70 percent will include gasoline cars, hybrids, and fuel-cell EVs. The chairman also hinted that hydrogen-burning combustion engines might be a potential solution, but there was no mention of diesel.
Toyota is taking a different approach compared to many other brands. While some have committed to ditching gasoline-powered vehicles, even Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus plans to stop selling them by 2035.
However, decisions can change, as seen with General Motors reversing its stance on plug-in hybrids in North America.
Toyota firmly believes that electric vehicles alone can’t achieve carbon neutrality, standing by this controversial stance.
It’s important to note that not all markets are in the same place regarding the shift to electric, and electrification won’t happen uniformly worldwide and simultaneously.