Toyota is not lazy, the Japanese culture is not inclined to be lazy. Being the biggest car manufacturer in the world requires a great deal of hard work and organisation. So why is Toyota accused of being lazy? It’s to do with the company’s slow transition to electric vehicles. Toyota has never been truly enthusiastic about switching to battery-electric cars. The company has invested billions into developing hydrogen and hybrid technology to meet zero-emissions targets. Hybrid cars were once seen as exotic future tech, now they are viewed as an environmental dinosaur. Toyota’s continued motivation to wave the flag for hybrids and fuel cell technology is in step with the Japanese government’s plan to invest in future hydrogen infrastructures.
Toyota is simply going where the money is, that is to say, they want to tap into Japan’s hydrogen investment plan. The plan has been in development for the past 30 years and it has gone nowhere. As Toyota sits on its corporate fence, elsewhere in the world investment in battery-powered vehicles has accelerated. Especially over the past 5 years due in part to the “Tesla effect”.
However, Toyota hit back at critics accusing it of being lazy to make the switch to battery-powered vehicles. The firm argued that it needed to make powertrain diversification at the center of its product strategy to suit different customers and market demands.
Toyota used its 2022 annual general meeting to beat the drums for continuing to offer hybrid and fuel cell cars. Of the latter, Toyota failed to mention that the Mirai, the vanguard of its hydrogen fuel cell strategy, has sold 17,000 units since it was launched in 2014.
Toyota’s argument for hybrids and fuel cells is based on the fact that in some markets an EV infrastructure is either not yet established or significant enough to support EVs. A diversified powertrain portfolio is logical in order to meet the demands of developing markets.
Toyota is committed to spending $60BN USD on electrifying its cars by 2030. Toyota failed to mention that it is lobbying governments across the world to favor policies that maintain the continuation of gasoline-powered car sales.
Toyota is sending out odd signals. It intends to cut C02 emissions from its factories, favors hydrogen fuel cells over battery-powered cars, and at the same time lobbies against electric cars.
And to confuse matters further, Toyota has just released the BZ4x, a pure electric compact SUV.