Many publications, including ourselves at InsideEVs, have been critical of Toyota for avoiding fully electric cars. This has come about for a variety of reasons, but the point here is that Toyota has been seen as anti-EV by many in the industry for years, and the company and its leaders have gone so far as to push back against electric vehicles rather strongly.
Now, Toyota showed off its "showroom of the future," revealing 16 upcoming battery-electric vehicles. However, the announcement was just as much, if not more, about proving Toyota it isn't anti-EV as it was about actually unveiling electric cars. According to Automotive News, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda said during the presentation:
"Some people say Toyota is not interested in EVs, that's what we hear a lot. But when you think of the volume [of EVs] we are talking about it's a huge volume."
Toyota has been the leader in hybrid technology for many years. In fact, the brand, along with its luxury division Lexus, offers most vehicles in its lineup with an optional hybrid powertrain. Moreover, some of the brands' vehicles are only available as a hybrid.
Toyota has also been a strong advocate for hydrogen fuel-cell technology, though it only produces one such car currently, the Mirai. The company has made it clear on a number of occasions that it doesn't believe car shoppers are ready for EVs. Keep in mind, while electric cars are gaining in popularity, only a very small percentage of the world's cars are fully electric, and that percentage is especially low in the U.S.
Toyota went on to say that even with the company's latest announcement, the criticism won't stop. He basically said that skeptics will now say that Toyota isn't investing enough or planning to sell a large enough fleet of EVs. Toyota plans to sell at least 3.5 million fully electric cars by 2030, up from its previous estimate of 2 million. CEO Toyoda continued:
"Two million is a huge number and now we're saying 3.5 million as a baseline, but people will still say [it's only] 3.5 million out of 10 million annually."
Toyota sells cars across the globe, and it's getting to the point that it will almost be forced to manufacture battery-electric cars to comply with strict emissions requirements in Europe, China, and the States.
Nonetheless, the brand continues to assert that even though it's getting on board with electric cars, it still wants to offer plenty of other options to appeal to everyone. This is due in part to that fact that Toyota sells vehicles in many markets that don't have strict emissions requirements. Toyoda also reiterated that 1 million out of 5 million people could lose their jobs in Japan if the country goes 100 percent electric. The CEO added:
"We are living in a diversified world and in an era in which it is hard to predict the future. It is difficult to make everyone happy with a one-size-fits-all option."
So, what do you think of Toyota's plans? Are they enough to silence the critics? Are CEO Toyoda's words versed in a way that make it seem as though Toyota is aiming to become a leader in EVs, or simply an automaker that's complying because it has no other choice?