Exclusive: Japan has backed hybrids following pressure from Toyota executives

Exclusive: Japan has backed hybrids following pressure from Toyota executives
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TOKYO, June 24 (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp. (7203.T) A senior lawmaker told a ruling party meeting that the president had lobbied the Japanese government to make sure it supported hybrid cars as much as battery power or that it would lose support from the automotive industry.

The lobbying by Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota and chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) industry group, comes at a time when the automaker is facing growing scrutiny from green investors, who say they are slow to adopt battery-powered electric cars and put pressure on governments. slow in transition to them. read more

Akira Amari, a former industry minister and veteran member of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), called for a change in the government’s annual economic policy roadmap at a June 3 meeting and said he had spoken to Toyoda the day before, according to notes and votes. The meeting was reviewed by Reuters.

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The latest version of the document refers to “electric cars” and although environmentalists say there is a big difference, it seems that the residual fuel-burning hybrids are equated with zero-emission battery vehicles.

“I spoke to Chairman Toyoda yesterday and he said that JAMA would not be able to support a government that rejects hybrids,” Amari said at a LDP MPs policy meeting, according to notes and votes.

Amari said the use of synthetic fuels such as hydrogen would make hybrids “100% clean energy” cars, and the policy document should make that clear.

“If we do not clarify this, JAMA will withdraw with all its might,” Amari said, according to records and voices.

“If we do not say that hybrids fall into the category of electric cars, it will not look good,” he said, adding that the reference to electric cars should be changed to “so-called electric cars.” . “”.

Amari confirmed to Reuters that he wanted electric vehicles to be included “so-called” to make it clear that they were not limited to battery-powered electric vehicles and contained hybrids. He said he did not want any other changes.

He confirmed that he had talked to Toyoda.

“What Mr. Toyoda is trying to say is that hybrids that run on synthetic fuels are good for the environment because they are extremely fuel efficient. He said he would be extremely unhappy if the hybrids were rejected. He told me. LDP rejected hybrids and I said. that we do not do such a thing. “

Amari told Reuters that automakers would be able to produce zero-emission internal combustion engines by producing synthetic fuels. According to him, such fuels can be used in aircraft that can not run on batteries.

In a statement to Reuters, JAMA said the automotive industry was making every effort to achieve its goal of being carbon-neutral by 2050. He said it was important to expand the options and not be limited to specific technologies, as the goal is carbon neutrality.

It was also necessary to respond to different situations and customer needs in each country and region, he said.

A Toyota spokesman told Reuters citing JAMA.


The latest version of the document, which is available online, cites Japan’s target for all new domestic car sales by 2035 as “electric cars” and notes that the main text specifically includes hybrids of such cars.

The previous project, which will also be available online on May 31, only mentions hybrids in a note. The main text refers to the 2035 target that all new car sales will be “electric cars”.

The annual policy document is of great importance to the government and serves as a framework for its future policy.

Toyota, the world’s largest automaker in terms of sales, said the problem was not internal combustion engines, but residual fuels. In addition to the hybrids he popularized with the Prius more than two decades ago, it also defends hydrogen technology, although it has so far failed to catch battery-powered electric cars.

According to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association, hybrids, including plug-in hybrids, accounted for almost 44% of new cars sold in Japan last year.

This does not include mini cars, trucks or buses.

InfluenceMap, an energy and climate think tank, rated Toyota as the worst of the major automakers for its record of lobbying for climate policy, which includes public statements and interaction with governments.

He has been criticized for lobbying by his investors, including pension funds. The Danish company AkademikerPension sold a majority stake in Toyota last year.

Last year, Toyota pledged 8 trillion yen ($ 60 billion) to electrify its cars by 2030, half of which will be used to build rechargeable electric cars. However, he expects annual sales of such cars to reach a total of 3.5 million by the end of the decade, or about a third of current sales.

On Thursday, Toyota said it had recalled more than 2,000 of its first mass-produced electric vehicles, the bZ4X SUV, less than two months after the car was released due to the risk of tire overturning. read more

He says hybrids make sense in markets where the infrastructure isn’t ready to support a faster transition to battery-powered vehicles, and that customers need to make more choices for cleaner technology.

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Interview by Makiko Yamazaki; Additional report by Nobuhiro Kubo, Maki Shiraki and Kaori Kaneko; Edited by David Dolan and Kim Coghill

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

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