Toyota, in reverse, says it will move faster to electric vehicles


Toyota Motor Corp.

TM 2.21%

, the last warning voice on electric vehicles among the world’s top automakers, on Tuesday declared itself a believer and said it would produce 3.5 million EVs a year by year 2030.

Toyota says it wants all models in its premium Lexus brand to be electric by 2030 in the US, China and Europe. And it introduced more than a dozen of the 30 EV models it plans to sell that year.

However, they warn that many of its customers, especially in the United States outside the coasts, are not yet ready for a battery-powered vehicle and likely won’t be around for some time.

Just seven months ago, in May, Toyota sets a goal sell around two million electric vehicles by 2030. On Tuesday, it nearly doubled that target, citing the November climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, and Executive Order of the Biden Administration to increase sales of electric vehicles.

Toyota’s president, Akio Toyoda, said at a news conference that the company felt compelled to update plans to achieve carbon neutrality after the summit. “Every country is making announcements and clarifying the energy policies they have,” he said.

Until recently, Mr. Toyoda distinguished himself with his cautious remarks about electric vehicles. He questioned whether consumers would want to buy a battery-powered car and said electric vehicles may not be as good for the environment as the gas-electric hybrids Toyota specializes in, because many The world’s electricity is generated from fossil fuels.

In total, Toyota says it will spend about $35 billion on electric vehicles over the next decade.


Kiyoshi Ota / Bloomberg News

Mr. Toyoda also warn that a hasty change for electric vehicles could undermine the network of suppliers for traditional gasoline-powered cars, a scenario in which “the current business model of the car industry would collapse,” he said. in December 2020.

On Tuesday, such skepticism was mostly shelved.

Mr. Toyoda praised electric vehicles as fun to drive, and he showed a video of himself laughing as he hit the gas while driving a Lexus EV in development. “Another world! Wow!” he says in the video.

At the press conference, he said: “The efficiency of electric motors far exceeds that of gasoline cars.”

The company said it would increase spending on battery research and production to 2 trillion yen, or $17.6 billion, up from a previous plan of 1.5 trillion yen. A battery factory planned for North Carolina. In total, the company says it will spend about $35 billion on electric vehicles over the next decade.

“We’re not saying we’ll use it up. This is a sign that we are ready,” said Chief Technology Officer Masahiko Maeda.

Lexus is expected to become an all-electric brand globally by 2035, and models are expected to include a sports car that will go from zero to 60 miles per hour in two seconds.

However, Toyota’s move to electric vehicles has been slower than that of some of its competitors. Mr. Toyoda attributed that to a lack of charging infrastructure and power supplies in many of the countries where Toyota sells cars.

Toyota recorded 9.9 million total retail vehicle sales in the year ended March 31, meaning that its 3.5 million EV target for 2030 would represent about a third of global sales. , assuming overall sales remain stable.

Ford Motor Have.

is aiming to have 40% of my sales coming from electric vehicles by 2030.

Volkswagen AG

, the automaker closest in size to Toyota, plans for half of its sales to be electric vehicles by 2030. The luxury car maker

Daimler AG

is aiming for its Mercedes-Benz the brand goes completely electric at the end of the decade.

In the US, Toyota says it believes it can sell electric cars to people living on the East or West Coasts. “They will prefer vehicles that are environmentally friendly and have good infrastructure,” said Mr. Maeda, chief technology officer. “But when you go into the Midwest, the usage environment is different. It will be difficult to immediately switch to battery electric vehicles.”

Volkswagen is investing more in electric vehicles than other legacy automakers in the US. The WSJ goes inside an engine factory that is being turned into a battery factory when the German giant wants to change its image and become a rival to Tesla. Artwork: George Downs

Simon Humphries, Toyota’s chief design officer, says the company needs to keep in mind the gap between what people say they want and what they actually buy. While most people agree that carbon neutrality is desirable, “whether they’re willing to accept that in practice is the next big hurdle,” he said. “We will have to change the way customers think. Then perhaps, we can achieve the variety of numbers in question. “

In the 1990s, Toyota developed the highly fuel-efficient Prius, combining a gasoline engine and an electric motor in an innovative hybrid design that set its environmental standards. Recently, however, its reputation has been marred by its reluctance to match the enthusiasm of the rest of the industry for battery-powered cars. Toyota has urged governments including the United States is cautious in promoting EVs.

Mr. Toyoda acknowledged that some might criticize the company for not committing to a higher share of sales, but said he did not think the criticisms were fair. Three and a half million vehicles, Mr. Toyoda said, is a large number, equivalent to the entire output of a company like Daimler. “The type of company size: It’s the size and volume we’re talking about,” he said.

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