Toyota has been dragging its feet related to electric cars for some time. It's the world leader when it comes to hybrids, and it offers a few plug-in hybrid electric cars. However, in terms of a fully electric car, Toyota has been notably absent since the early Tesla-powered RAV4 EV.
Now, the automaker, like most others, is beginning to move forward, albeit slowly. As Toyota and its executives continue to comment on EVs, there are always different excuses about why the brand hasn't embraced electrification, and what its plans may look like going forward.
A recent report by Green Car Reports points out that Toyota's electric cars will come after most rivals'. In addition, they're not going to have the electric range that's found in many of today's EVs, and nothing like that of Tesla or Lucid. However, Toyota says they will be affordable, and the company believes that's the key.
Toyota Motor North America VP for product planning and strategy Cooper Ericksen shared with the publication:
“Nothing happens until you sell a car’ is an expression we have internally. To have a positive impact on the environment, you must sell a high volume of cars...so it’s really important that the price point is such that we can make an actual business model out of it.”
At first glance, hardcore EV fans are probably already "mad" at Toyota once again. However, there is definitely a case to be made for not hauling a huge and expensive battery around if you don't need it. There's also a case against huge, sporty, super-quick, and very expensive EVs, which really only allow the wealthy to join the revolution.
That said, perhaps it makes the most sense for Toyota to offer base models of vehicles with smaller batteries and minimal range so that people can afford them. However, it would be arguably wise for Toyota to also offer longer-range options for people who need it.
Otherwise, we may see exactly what we've seen in the past. Rather than Toyota selling more EVs due to the lower price, it may not sell many since the low range turns people off. In many cases, whether shoppers need a longer range EV or not, they're still looking at those range estimates as part of the shopping process.
Some folks argue that legacy automakers have produced EVs with the intent to "not sell" them. If Toyota doesn't want to embrace EVs, and wants to prove that people won't buy them, all it has to do is offer EVs no one will buy, and then it can discontinue them as other brands have in the past.
“The bottom line is, over time we view EV range similar to horsepower. People who are affluent and can afford a really expensive vehicle can afford a lot of horsepower.”
“Batteries are expensive, and the bigger you make the battery, the more expensive it is. So the trick, I think long-term is not all about range, range, range; the trick is matching the range and the price point to what the consumer can afford.”
“And as people become more accustomed to operating an EV I think the anxiety over range is going to dissipate."
Green Car Reports points to multiple surveys and studies that all but prove people don't buy EVs with minimal range. Moreover, those who do get an EV with less the 200 miles of EPA-rated range aren't as satisfied as those with longer-range electric cars.
To be clear, Toyota hasn't specified a range or price goal. Instead, it says it wants to try to offer EVs that have the best balance of range and price. This way, the average person will be able to get into an EV they can afford. For reference, the brand's upcoming bZ4X (pictured above) will have about 250 miles of range. However, Ericksen says 400 to 500 miles of range for a luxury EV from Lexus is a goal.
That said, when Ericksen actually talked about a "minimal" range goal, he said:
“But the low end to me is the more curious number. What's the lowest number that you can put out there that achieves the affordability and the use case for that customer?”
“I think we have some examples in the market over the past five years or so that we can learn from. It's something we're going to have to figure out because it has a huge impact on resources.”
If Toyota is willing to go back as far as five years to figure out what might be the best range for its future electric cars, it may be in for a big surprise. EVs have come a long way in the last five years, and rivals are going to keep pushing the envelope while Toyota moves slowly.
Check out Green Car Reports' full article by following the source link below. Then, scroll down to our popular comment section and start a healthy conversation about this topic. What are your thoughts?