Akio Toyoda, the chairman of Toyota who stepped down from his role as CEO of the company earlier this year, in the wake of questions over his leadership resulting from the company’s slow adoption of EVs, says that slowing electric vehicle sales vindicate his resistance to EVs, and that “people are finally seeing reality” about the technology.
Akio cited the sluggish growth of EVs in the United States as evidence that his company was right to be cautious when it came to EVs. While speaking to reporters at the Japan Mobility Show this week, he said:
“There are many ways to climb the mountain that is achieving carbon neutrality.”
The market is expanding even if the rise in EV sales is witnessing a slowdown. According to the Wall Street Journal, the growth in global sales of electric vehicles was 63% in 2022 but stands at 49% (so far) in 2023. Particularly in the American market, this downturn has caused the likes of GM and Ford to think about reducing their output of electric pickup trucks.
This, according to Toyoda, is evidence that “regular users are the ones who suffer if regulations are created based on ideals.” After ExxonMobil and Chevron, Toyota was found to be the third-most obstructionist firm against government measures to mitigate climate change during Akio’s time as CEO. According to the World Health Organization, 250,000 more people will die annually between 2030 and 2050 as a result of climate change, with 3.6 billion people currently living in regions that are vulnerable to it.
However, after Tesla’s success, investors are starting to view this technology as the future as well, so it’s not just regulators who are pushing for electric cars. Koji Sato, the CEO who succeeded Toyoda, has prioritized the development of inexpensive EVs, and the Japanese automaker also unveiled some all-electric concepts including the FT-Se EV at the Japan Mobility Show. Meanwhile, Toyota has also tripled its EV target setting a new goal of making 600,000 EVs in 2025, a three-fold increase from its earlier target of producing 190,000 EVs in 2024.
According to Toyoda, the automaker’s deliberate slowness produced these concepts. The company, he claimed, considered all possibilities carefully and collaborated with battery manufacturers. According to his assertion, the Japanese automotive industry’s resilience in the electric vehicle (EV) era would stem from its numerous years of experience as well as its previous “experiences of failure.”
Toyota doesn’t have to look too far back to see an experience of failure in the EV space. The bZ4X was the first attempt for the brand that has fallen flat due to its disappointing battery range and specs. Fortunately, the automaker has been able to lean on its hybrid vehicles as a bridge into the electric era, which it claims is also the greenest way forward. Toyota is also betting big on hydrogen as an alternative to EVs to achieve carbon neutrality.
A computer animation professional with over 23 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations, TV channels & production facilities in Pakistan. An avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver quality content to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com