Akio Toyoda and the company he leads have taken a considerable amount of flak from environmentally minded folks, electric vehicle enthusiasts and industry observers for Toyota Motor Corp.'s deliberate pace in building an EV lineup.
For the record, I think Toyota's decision to offer a variety of powertrains in the near and midterm as a means of advancing toward carbon neutrality — gasoline-electric hybrid, plug-in hybrid and even hydrogen fuel cell, as well as an incoming wave of EVs — is sensible for a company with a broad, high-volume vehicle lineup, albeit a conservative plan compared with its peers that are all-in on EVs now and eliminating emissions entirely. There are still a lot of consumers who are not sold on EVs for a number of reasons — utility, range, an insufficient charging network or merely a visceral hatred of EVs, such as the Wyoming Republicans who are seeking to ban EV sales to protect the local oil industry. The business case for an all-EV automaker, even in light of Tesla's improbable success, is not proven yet.
So given Toyota's typically pragmatic approach, I found myself scratching my head when my colleague Hans Greimel reported on Jan. 13 that Toyoda envisions another pillar in the war on carbon: taking vehicles with internal combustion engines off the road and retrofitting them with battery EV and hydrogen powertrains.