CHIBA, Japan (AP) – Toyota is proposing to replace the interior of cars on the road with cleaner technology, such as fuel cells and electric motors, in an effort to accelerate the global drive toward sustainable vehicles.
“I don’t want to leave any car enthusiast behind,” CEO Akio Toyoda said Friday on stage at the Tokyo Auto Salon, an industry event similar to world auto shows.
The message was clear: Toyota Motor Corp. He wants the world to know that he’s not behind on electric cars, as some detractors say.
Japan’s top automaker, behind luxury brands Lexus and the Prius hybrid, is underlining its authority: It has all the technology, engineering, financial resources and industry expertise needed to remain a strong competitor in green cars.
Toyoda told reporters that it will take a long time for all cars to become zero-emissions, as they make up only a fraction of the cars sold. Greening or “converting” older cars is a better option, he said.
Toyoda, the grandson of the company’s founder and an avid racer, also hoped to break the stereotype that clean cars aren’t as much fun as regular cars.
At Toyota’s Gazoo Racing stand, the maker of Lexus luxury models and the Camry sedan showed a video of its victory in world rallies, as well as battery- and hydrogen-powered versions of the Toyota AE86 series, including the Toyota Corolla Levin. Toyoda called his “turnaround” strategy.
The automotive industry is undergoing a transformation due to growing concerns about climate change. Car manufacturers are often blamed as the culprits.
Toyoda said environmental efforts in the auto industry are becoming appreciated in many countries, but he feels underappreciated in Japan.
Toyota has dominated the industry with its hybrid technology, exemplified in the Prius, which has both an electric motor and a gasoline engine, switching back and forth to provide the most efficient drive. This often reflects a reluctance to go all-electric.
Battery electric cars make up about 20% of the car market, despite the bad news about relative newcomers like Tesla and even Dyson. Europe is ahead of the US and Japan in progressing towards electricity.
Is it unfair to classify Japanese automakers as green laggards?
First, shortages of certain components, such as lithium, could drive up EV prices and keep consumers sticking to hybrids, says Matthias Schmidt, senior auto analyst at Schmidt Automotive Research.
“If this was 2025 and you asked the same question, I would say the Japanese OEMs have missed the boat. But seeing as it’s 2023 and companies like Toyota are starting to introduce BEVs, their timing will likely be on schedule,” he said.
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama
Leave a Comment