Toyota RAV4 EV

Toyota RAV4 EV

Toyota FCEV Concept

Toyota FCEV Concept

Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America, discusses why Toyota is abandoning the pure electric Toyota RAV4 EV in favor of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Fans of pure electric vehicles won't enjoy the comments made by Lentz, but this is Toyota, a non-supporter of pure electric vehicles.

According to Lentz, BEVs are only viable in “a select way, in short-range vehicles that take you that extra mile, from the office to the train, or home to the train, as well as being used on large campuses."

“But for long-range travel primary vehicles, we feel there are better alternatives, such as hybrids and plug-in hybrids, and tomorrow with fuel cells."

Lentz adds that the deal with Tesla on 2,600 RAV4 EVs  “was never about open-ended volume.It was time to either continue or stop. My personal feeling was that I would rather invest my dollars in fuel cell development than in another 2,500 EVs."

However, Lentz admits that it learned from Tesla and suggests that Tesla learned a thing or two from Toyota, too:

“We learned a lot about being a smaller entrepreneurial company in the auto business and being faster to market.  They learned about our quality control. It was more about two types of companies working together than about batteries. We’re not anti-battery. We are a big battery company. We have 6 million hybrids running on batteries.”

As for Toyota' investment in Tesla, Lentz sarcastically says "It's done ok."  Perhaps the biggest understatement ever, considering that Toyota's $50 million investment in Tesla back in 2010 is now worth 10 times that amount.

“It’s done ok.  It’s an investment and we have to treat it like an investment. If it were my money in my pocket, I would take a little off the table. But it’s a investment, so I don’t control it.”

Source: Automotive News