After California’s two senators urged Joe Biden to set a date for phasing out combustion-engined “new cars and passenger trucks,” Toyota decided to fight back at the U.S. Senate. According to Reuters, an executive from the Japanese carmaker will try to convince the senators of the “tremendous challenges” that would be in the way toward zero emissions.
At a hearing that will happen this March 23 at the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Robert Wimmer will argue that issues with “refueling infrastructure, battery availability, consumer acceptance, and affordability” will be the stumbling blocks. Toyota’s director of Energy & Environmental Research must have mentioned refueling for the company’s hydrogen efforts.
According to Wimmer, the Japanese company took 20 years to reach more than 4 million hybrids sold in the U.S. Ironically, the Toyota RAV4 Prime would have sold a lot more if the company could deliver as many as American customers demanded. Akio Toyoda already made it very clear he does not want to accelerate EV adoption.
The company bet on a gradual transition to electric vehicles while competitors such as Tesla and Volkswagen made arrangements to skip that transition and go electric immediately. This is probably what Herbert Diess meant at the Volkswagen Power Day when he said: “Today, they are following suit while we are reaping the fruit.”
For these companies that have anticipated themselves on offering EVs, battery availability is a concern but likely not as massive as it must be for automakers who have not planned to sell electric cars by now. Volkswagen and Tesla probably have contracts that ensure they will have enough batteries to sell their cars, while its competitors may be struggling to find suppliers for that.
When it comes to consumer acceptance, it is unlikely to be an issue. When people are offered affordable EV options, they’ll probably prefer to have them instead of vehicles that will soon be illegal to drive in many cities, states, and even countries. Depreciation for ICE cars will be steep when that happens, and most buyers are really protective of their assets.