Toyota Responds to Critics Slamming the Carmaker’s Slow Switch to EVs

It seems like everyone making vehicles these days is talking about electrification. EV technology continues to improve, and with a bit of pressure from the likes of Tesla and others, many automakers are rushing to adopt hybrids and all-electric variations. But what about Toyota?

While many manufacturers are projecting long-term plans for new EV models, Toyota has been essentially silent on the subject. Most find it odd, considering Toyota is almost always leading the pack in efficiency-loaded rides. The Japanese automaker was also one of the first to dabble in electric vehicle engineering with the Toyota Prius Hybrid. Critics have slammed Toyota for being too slow to make the EV switch or commit to a fully electrified strategy. And this is what Toyota has to say about that.

Toyota knows a thing or two about electric

A Toyota logo on the side of a building, even though they are slow to switch to EVs.
Toyota logo | Getty Images

Toyota is the subject of recent criticism for taking a slow approach to electrification of its lineup and launching EVs. But let’s not forget, Toyota blazed the trail first when it introduced the Toyota Prius in 1997, the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle. It’s been a monster success in terms of sales and customer loyalty. How many people do you know still drive and love their Prius models?

Industry critics have been pretty vocal about pointing out Toyota’s lackluster commitment to phasing out gasoline-powered cars. And the success of the Toyota Prius only muddies the waters even more. Environmentalists have slammed Toyota for not doing more and faster.

Toyota’s response to the critics

According to Reuters, Toyota claps back at the critics and says they’re not going to rush perfection. Battery electric vehicles and plans to shift lineups to all-electric variations will take time, planning, and coordination if it’s to be done right. Toyota officials argued such a lineup would need to represent a variety of car choices, designed to “suit different markets and customers.”

For now, Toyota is sticking by its continued plan to include fuel cell vehicles and hybrids, which has proven incredibly successful for the automaker as a resounding leader in building cleaner cars. Masahiko Maeda, Toyota’s Chief Technology Officer, said in the annual meeting that the “goal is carbon neutrality.” Maeda also points out that customers need to be able to choose. An automaker should not narrow the selection because of limited or rushed manufacturing capacity.

Other automakers are announcing plans to switch to EVs

Plenty of other automakers jumped on the EV bandwagon, racing each other for early adoption. General Motors and Ford, for example, have announced official plans for electrification of their respective lineups within the next ten years. Consumers are already raving about the likes of the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the Ford F-150 Lightning.

According to Automotive News, GM has admitted that their belief is a full portfolio of EVs is the key to success. Remember, GM sold the EV1 in the late 1990s, the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid in 2010, and the Chevy Bolt in 2016. GM’s President Mark Reuss admitted to being afraid back then, “not really getting behind it” [referring to the Chevy Bolt]. It’s a lesson learned, Reuss goes on to say. Going to market with a full portfolio of vehicles, with sales and support to back it, would have been more ideal.

So, maybe Toyota’s on to something with its “wait, plan, then dominate” approach to EV commitments. While all the other brands are racing to introduce their new EVs and publish official environmental goals for total electrification, Toyota is quietly planning.

When Toyota does believe it’s ready to make a move, you can bet there will be a whole portfolio of sweet electric rides from which to choose. There is something smart and deliberate about Toyota’s EV path. If their dominance with the Prius is any indication, when they’re ready to go all-in on EV, it will be spectacular to be a car-buying consumer.

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