Toyota Says Battery Electric Vehicles Aren’t For Everyone

Like it or not, electric vehicles are the future. Many automakers have promised to switch to producing more EVs by 2030 to meet government mandates. However, battery electric vehicles may not fit everyone’s lifestyle, according to an executive from Toyota.

Toyota says battery electric vehicles may not be for you

Chief Scientist of Toyota Motor Corp Gill Pratt standing next to a white  Toyota autonomous vehicle. Pratt recently made comments that battery electric vehicles may not be for everyone
Chief Scientist of Toyota Motor Group Gill Pratt | Robyn Beck /AFP/Getty Images

Chief Scientist of Toyota Motor Corp Gill Pratt at the Reuters Events Automotive Summit suggested that battery electric vehicles may not be the best choice for people concerned with battling climate change.

Pratt’s suggestion seemingly bolsters similar comments made by the President of Toyota, Akio Toyoda. Toyoda-san and other representatives from the Japanese automaker have previously acknowledged that battery electric vehicles will have a significant impact on reducing air pollution but have also stated more solutions need to be explored.

Toyota’s gasoline-hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles were cited as examples of alternative solutions. During the conference, Pratt said that Toyota customers should have a “diversity of drivetrains” as a means to combat CO2 emissions.

“It’s not for us to predict which solution is the best or say only this will work,” said Pratt.

Pratt went on to say that government incentives, such as EV tax breaks, should be targeted toward reducing carbon emissions as a whole rather than picking which one technology is best for fighting emissions. Reuters suggested that Pratt may have been taking aim at some government’s move to ban internal combustion engines, which would include those found in gasoline-hybrid vehicles.

Toyota is investing billions of dollars in producing batteries for hybrid vehicles

An image featuring a grouping of future Toyota electric vehicles and current electric vehicle the hydrogen fuel cell-powered Mirai
Future Toyota electric vehicles | Toyota USA

Toyota is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to exploring alternatives to pure battery electric vehicles. Recently, Toyota announced that between now and 2030, it would spend $3.4 billion on building battery production plants in the United States.

The automaker said that the first new plant it builds would focus on producing batteries for hybrid vehicles rather than 100% battery EVs.

The $3.4 billion investment is part of an overall $13.5 billion investment to ramp up the production of EV batteries worldwide and develop an efficient supply chain for said batteries. One of the goals of the investment is to reduce the cost of batteries by 30%.

It seems that Toyota is taking a more gradual approach to switch to full battery electric vehicle production compared to its competitors. Ford is making significant investments in expanding its electric vehicle production, and the CEO of Volkswagen is urging his executives to make decisions toward developing more EVs quickly.

Toyota also sings the praises of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles

A see through rendering of a Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle
Toyota Mirai rendering | Toyota

Toyota is one of the few automakers to offer a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle in the U.S. The Toyota Mirai was the brand’s first attempt at a mass-market hydrogen electric vehicle. A hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle such as the Mirai outperforms battery electric vehicles in many ways. However, one of the major downsides to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is that the infrastructure is underdeveloped.

There are only a handful of hydrogen refueling stations in the United States versus thousands of gas stations and hundreds of electric charging stations, making owning a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle difficult.

Korean automaker Hyundai sides with Toyota in its belief in hydrogen and is investing $1.1 billion in building a hydrogen fuel cell plant. Though, the plant will be in Korea and will likely serve the Asian and European markets.

It remains to be seen if Toyota can hold on to its plans for diverse drivetrains or if government mandates and consumer demand will force the automaker to embrace battery electric vehicles fully.

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