Ogawa said the automaker was likely to focus its distribution and marketing in states that have zero-emission vehicle mandates, including California, but will allow all of its dealers to sell the vehicles if they choose.
"The customer can choose, of course," the CEO said. "It's a practical issue, but the priority will be on the ZEV states. We want to sell nationwide, but it will depend on demand."
Speaking from the unit's headquarters in Plano, just north of Dallas, he added: "I do see many Teslas in Texas, though."
Ogawa said many details of the automaker's North American BEV strategy — including pricing, distribution and allocations, and consumer targeting — remain "under discussion," as does the question of which Japan-built BEVs will be brought to the U.S.
Bob Carter, head of sales for TMNA, previously announced the automaker would bring two BEVs to the U.S. this year. One of those is expected to be the production version of the Toyota bZ4X Concept shown at the Shanghai auto show. Lexus dealers have also been told that their brand will have a BEV to sell soon.
Jointly developed with Subaru, the bZ4X crossover is the first vehicle built on Toyota Motor Corp.'s new e-TNGA dedicated electric vehicle platform and leverages Subaru Corp.'s all-wheel-drive technology. It draws its name from Beyond Zero, Toyota's catchphrase for its 2050 ambition to achieve carbon neutrality and move beyond zero environmental impact to having a net positive impact on the global ecosphere and society.
The concept features a cabin dominated by a massive upright digital display and an innovative configuration of its instrument cluster, which Toyota says helps "create a sense of open space" while improving visibility.
Ogawa, who succeeded longtime TNMA CEO Jim Lentz in 2020, said he believes U.S. consumers "are ready to accept the trend" toward battery-electric vehicles, but their level of acceptance depends on factors outside Toyota's control.
"It depends on the region," Ogawa said. "For example, in California, the gasoline price is so high, and the infrastructure is there promoting [EV use], and the regulation does also. In some other areas, however, the gas price is quite low, and the [charging] infrastructure is not well prepared."
Though Toyota and Lexus dealers don't sell new battery-electric vehicles currently, they arguably are better positioned than some other brands to begin doing so.
Ogawa said the automaker's long experience with hybrid vehicles means its technicians are well prepared to service EVs and that Toyota would work with its dealers "in partnership" to install necessary charging infrastructure.
Asked whether Toyota intended to compete with rival Volkswagen by using its global scale to lure BEV customers on price, Ogawa said the matter remained "under discussion" internally.
"We have made an announcement about our environmental vision for 2050. However, we didn't have any announcement about the time frame from the current day to 2050. So on the other side, people are waiting: What should they do?" Ogawa asked rhetorically. "To meet that expectation, we are doing some internal discussions. So you'll have to give us some time to make those announcements."