Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda speaks throughout a small media roundtable on Sept. 29, 2022 in Las Vegas.
LAS VEGAS — Toyota Motor CEO Akio Toyoda final week merely said what he would really like his legacy to be: “I like automobiles.”
Simply how the 66-year-old racer, automotive fanatic and firm scion will likely be remembered relating to his strategy to all-electric automobiles in comparison with gas-powered efficiency automobiles, just like the Supra, or hybrids, just like the once-groundbreaking Prius, will play out within the years to come back.
Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, plans to take a position $70 billion in electrified automobiles over the subsequent 9 years. Half of that will likely be for all-electric battery ones. Whereas it is a substantial funding in EVs, it is smaller than some rivals’ plans, and never as a lot as some would really like given Toyota’s international footprint.
Regardless of criticism from some traders and environmental teams, Toyoda this previous week doubled down on his technique to proceed investing in a variety of electrified automobiles versus rivals similar to Volkswagen and Basic Motors, which have stated they’re going all-in on all-electric automobiles.
The plans may arguably cement Toyoda’s “I like automobiles” legacy or tarnish it, relying on how shortly drivers undertake electrical automobiles.
“For me, taking part in to win additionally means doing issues in a different way. Doing issues that others might query, however that we imagine will put us within the winner’s circle the longest,” he stated Wednesday throughout Toyota’s annual seller assembly in Las Vegas, which, by the way in which, was referred to as “Taking part in to Win.”
Akio Toyoda with new Toyota Supra
Paul Eisenstein | CNBC
Toyoda, who described Toyota as a big division retailer, stated the corporate’s objective “stays the identical, pleasing the widest potential vary of shoppers with the widest potential vary of powertrains.” These powertrains will embody hybrids and plug-in hybrids just like the Prius, hydrogen gasoline cell automobiles just like the Mirai and 15 all-electric battery fashions by 2025.
Apart from the EV plans, Toyoda mentioned a number of different points of the corporate’s enterprise final week through the seller assembly and a small roundtable with U.S. media.
EV laws and supplies
Toyoda reiterated that he doesn’t imagine all-electric automobiles will likely be adopted as shortly as coverage regulators and rivals suppose, as a consequence of a wide range of causes. He cited lack of infrastructure, pricing and the way clients’ decisions differ area to area as examples of potential roadblocks.
He believes it will likely be “tough” to meet current laws that decision for banning conventional automobiles with inner combustion engines by 2035, like California and New York have said they will adopt.
“Just like the fully autonomous cars that we are all supposed to be driving by now, EVs are just going to take longer to become mainstream than media would like us to believe,” Toyoda said in a recording of the remarks to dealers shown to reporters. “In the meantime, you have many options for customers.”
Toyoda also believes there will be “tremendous shortages” of lithium and battery grade nickel in the next five to 10 years, leading to production and supply chain problems.
Toyota’s goal is carbon neutrality by 2050, and not just through all-electric vehicles. Some have questioned the environmental impact of EVs when factoring in raw material mining and overall vehicle production.
Since the Prius launched in 1997, Toyota says it has sold more than 20 million electrified vehicles worldwide. The company says those sales have avoided 160 million tons of CO2 emissions, which is the equivalent to the impact of 5.5 million all-electric battery vehicles.
“Toyota can produce eight 40-mile plug-in hybrids for every one 320-mile battery electric vehicle and save up to eight times the carbon emitted into the atmosphere,” according to prepared remarks for Toyoda provided to media.
Toyota’s hesitancy to launch all-electric vehicles has been criticized by environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, which ranked the Japanese automaker at the bottom of its auto-industry decarbonization rankings the past two years.
Standing pat with dealers
Toyota has no plans to overhaul its franchised dealership network as it invests in electrified vehicles, like some competitors have announced.
“I know you are anxious about the future. I know you are worried about how this business will change. While I can’t predict the future, I can promise you this: You, me, us, this business, this franchised model is not going anywhere. It’s staying just as it is,” he told dealers to resounding applause.
The franchised dealer model has been under pressure after Tesla and newer EV startups began selling directly to consumers than rather through traditional dealers.
GM has offered buyouts to Buick and Cadillac dealers that don’t want to invest in EVs, while Ford last month announced dealers that want to sell EVs must become certified under one of two programs — with investments of $500,000 or $1.2 million.
As part of lighthearted and comedic comments to dealers, Toyoda said he danced when the automaker outsold GM last year for the first time ever in the U.S.
Despite Toyota executives saying the accomplishment wasn’t sustainable — GM led through the first half of this year — Toyoda still felt it was cause for celebration.
“At Toyota, we like to keep our head down and not talk about our success,” Toyoda said before reenacting the dance on stage. “But when I heard you became No. 1 in the U.S. last year, I actually did a little happy dance in my office.”