Both EVs, Hybrids Will Curb Emissions, Toyota Vice Chairman Says
(Bloomberg) -- In addition to electric vehicles, hybrid cars will play a crucial role in decarbonizing global transportation, particularly in regions outside Europe and the U.S., said Shigeru Hayakawa, vice chairman of the world’s biggest automaker, Toyota Motor Corp.
EVs are a good fit for countries with high incomes and a built-out charging infrastructure, as well as the ability to make and charge batteries with electricity derived from renewable sources, Hayakawa said in an interview Sunday at a company event at a racetrack in western Japan.
The challenge is reducing emissions in places such as Southeast Asia and Africa. Given the issue of affordability and current infrastructure “will these markets accept battery-electric cars in the future? I don’t know, but it will be difficult for the next 5, 10, 20 years,” Hayakawa said over the drone of racing cars.
While a number of auto majors including General Motors Co. are seeking to exclusively offer EVs in two decades’ time, Toyota is sticking firmly to its stance that non-electric cars will continue to play a lasting role in global auto markets.
Toyota’s stance has prompted some groups to criticize the automaker for not doing enough to curb emissions. Hayakawa acknowledged that’s been a source of frustration for the company and its executives. “We’re being written about like we’re opposing EVs or obsessed with internal combustion engines,” he said. “But that’s just not true.”
Toyota plans to introduce seven “bZ” series EV models by 2025, the first of which is an electric crossover bound for North America, Japan, China and Europe in mid-2022.
In all the roughly 200 countries and territories Toyota operates in, “we need to consider how to have people drive cars that are better for the environment than the ones they’re currently using,” Hayakawa said. Compared with EVs, hybrids generally cost less up-front. In that sense, they’re a better fit for developing regions, he said.
In Japan, where the energy mix is heavily dependent on fossil fuels, hybrids and plug-in hybrids could actually be the better choice from an environmental standpoint, Hayakawa said. While some research on markets such as Europe show hybrids offering relatively small emissions-reduction potential compared to conventional cars, others find the materials needed to make EVs and their batteries could account for a larger share of total emissions than those from tailpipes.
Our stance is that “battery-electric, plug-in hybrids and regular hybrids are all necessary,” Hayakawa said. Based on the market, “we need to discuss what’s actually the best option for the environment,” he said.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.