Toyota Adjusts Course on Electric Vehicles

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Toyota Motor appears to have belatedly decided that battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are indeed one part of the future, as the company has revealed that it will be introducing two BEV models to the North American market by the end of this year.

While Toyota has long embraced gas-electric hybrids and more actively promotes hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, the automaker has long resisted deep investment in fully electric cars. The last BEV it had available in the North American market was pulled seven years ago, when many analysts were still laughing at the ambitions of firms such as Tesla.

Toyota has not provided any details about the names or specifications about its two new BEV models, only saying that they will be available this year.

Bob Carter, Toyota Motor North America executive vice president of sales, stated, “We continue to be leaders in electrification that began with our pioneering introduction of the Prius nearly 25 years ago. Toyota’s new electrified product offerings will give customers multiple choices of powertrain that best suits their needs.”

Toyota’s own press release regarding the release of the two new BEVs was bizarrely grudging about its view on fully electric vehicles, taking pains to insist that its hybrid models “provide similar environmental benefits” according to the company’s internal research.

“[Greenhouse gases] of a currently available BEV model and [a hybrid] model are roughly the same in on-road performance when factoring in pollutants created by electricity production for the average US energy grid used to charge batteries,” Toyota claims.

In December, Toyota President Akio Toyoda lashed out at the Japan government’s reported plans to ban new gasoline car sales by the mid-2030s, declaring that such a policy would “collapse” the Japanese auto industry. He went on to declare, “The more EVs we build, the worse carbon dioxide gets. When politicians are out there saying, ‘Let’s get rid of all cars using gasoline,’ do they understand this?”

Toyoda was referencing his view that if Japan were forced to enhance electricity production on its national grid, that this would more than wipe out any environmental benefits of having BEVs on the roads.

Some electric vehicle advocates have been acid in response to Toyoda’s views. Fred Lambert of Electrek, for example, declared, “This small-mindedness could spell the end for the automaker if they don’t quickly let go of such ideas.”

So it would seem that while Toyota has adjusted its course on fully electric vehicles, it remains openly opposed to fully embracing them.

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