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Toyota Claims That Consumer Preference Determines The Rate Of Electrification

Toyota Claims That Consumer Preference Determines The Rate Of Electrification
Toyota Motor Corp rebuffed critics who claimed it was reluctant to embrace battery electric cars (BEV), stating that it needed to offer a variety of car options to cater to diverse markets and customers.
At its annual general meeting on Wednesday, the world's largest automaker by sales reiterated its commitment to the technologies, such as fuel cell vehicles and hybrids, that have made it a leader in cleaner automobiles for the past two decades.
Aside from concerns about its electrification approach, Toyota executives addressed a variety of issues, including CEO succession plans and the persistent chip shortage.
Toyota, once a favourite of environmentalists for its famous hybrid Prius model, has come under fire for failing to phase out gasoline-powered vehicles and for lobbying on climate policy.
"The goal is carbon neutrality," Toyota's Chief Technology Officer Masahiko Maeda told the meeting, responding to questions submitted by Danish pension fund AkademikerPension, which also asked Toyota to refrain from lobbying to undermine the transition to BEVs. read more
However, "buyers must choose," according to Maeda, in order to popularise electric vehicles such as plug-in hybrids. He believes that a variety of options should be offered, and that the automaker should not limit those options.
"Toyota used the pretext of customer choices to avoid answering the question about lobbying activities ... to slow the transition towards fossil-fuel-free cars," AkademikerPension said in a statement after the AGM.
"As investors, we expect more in 2022 against the backdrop of the climate crisis threatening to limit much more than customer choices in a not-so-distant future."
Toyota claims that hybrids still make sense in markets where infrastructure isn't ready to enable a faster transition to BEVs, and it's looking into the practicality of green fuels for internal combustion engine automobiles, such as hydrogen.
According to Seiji Sugiura, a senior analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute, there is a divide between Toyota, which handles decarbonization in a "pragmatic" manner, and environmental groups, which demand fast action.
The perspectives are not diametrically opposed, he said, adding that Toyota has been working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the vehicle manufacturing stage.
Last year, the business pledged to invest 8 trillion yen ($60 billion) in electrifying its vehicles by 2030, half of which will go toward the development of completely electric vehicles.
Nonetheless, it anticipates annual sales of such vehicles to reach only 3.5 million by the end of the decade, or around one-third of current sales.
Toyota just released its first mass-produced all-electric vehicle in the United States, albeit for lease only, while gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles remain significantly more popular in Japan.
When asked about succession planning, CEO Akio Toyoda, who has managed the company for 13 years, said he was "considering timing and the selection of a successor."
There has been no hint that Toyoda intends to retire.
Toyoda, the grandson of business founder Kiichiro Toyoda, led Toyota through a difficult period in which sales plummeted following the recall of millions of automobiles and the company recorded billions of dollars in losses.
"I'd pick someone who understands the company's philosophy as my successor," he added.
Toyoda has attempted to change Toyota's corporate culture by spending more time with younger executives and reducing the number of senior roles.
He appointed corporate veterans Maeda and Kenta Kon to key positions in 2020. Both were 51 years old at the time, a youthful age for top Toyota executives.
Toyota, which sold 10.5 million vehicles in 2021, considerably outstripping closest rival Volkswagen AG, has reduced production several times this year due to a global semiconductor shortage.
It expects the chip scarcity to persist, albeit there are signs of recovery, according to Kazunari Kumakura, head of its purchasing group, on Wednesday.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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