Toyota has undoubtedly been lagging behind lately. The world’s second largest car brand has been failing to keep up with other marques as the industry as a whole transitions to electric, despite showing early promise through their numerous hybrids launched in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In recent years the Japanese brand has been skeptical of battery electric vehicles (BEVs), with their president Akio Toyoda frequently making comments against them.
Despite all this doubt, Toyota still intends to launch their first all-electric vehicle next year – the production version of the bZ4X Concept. The Japanese firm also plans to invest $13.5 billion in batteries between now and 2030 - although it is important to note this figure is drastically lower than what many of their competitors plan to pour into EV powertrains.
Toyota are also pioneers when it comes to hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles thanks to the Mirai, the second generation of which launched recently. That said, many have cast doubt on hydrogen being a viable solution due to its high cost, the lack of infrastructure surrounding it and general safety concerns. One such person to speak out against hydrogen in the past is Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who last year stated the idea of hydrogen cars was “staggeringly dumb”.
Regardless, Toyota seems committed to the idea of selling hydrogen vehicles alongside BEVs and hybrids. The firm’s Chief Scientist, Gill Pratt, recently spoke at a Reuters event and stated the following:
“(Toyota) believes in diversity of drivetrains. It’s not for us to predict which solution is the best or say only this will work”.
The brand clearly doesn’t want to place all its eggs in one basket, a move which in a few years from now could look either incredibly smart or remarkably timid and backwards thinking. Whilst other manufacturers such as Ford and GM are committed to a purely BEV future, it will certainly be interesting to see how Toyota’s plan to invest less in battery electric cars and go for a more varied approach will unfold.