The global chairman of Japanese car giant Toyota has predicted that electric vehicle (EV) sales won’t pass 30 per cent globally, as the brand doubles down on hybrid and hydrogen power.
Speaking with Toyota Times – Toyota’s in-house publication – chairman and former CEO Akio Toyoda made the surprising statement, cementing his belief that future vehicles won’t be relying on batteries alone.
“No matter how much progress BEVs [battery electric vehicles] make, I think they will still only have a 30 per cent market share,” Mr Toyoda said.
“Then, the remaining 70 per cent will be HEVs [hybrids, FCEVs [hydrogen fuel cell], and hydrogen engines. And I think engine cars will definitely remain.
“I think this is something that customers and the market will decide, not regulatory values or political power.”
While EV sales have surpassed 30 per cent in small markets such as Norway – where more than 80 per cent of cars sold last year were battery-powered – in Australia only seven per cent of the new vehicles sold in 2023 were fully electric.
Mr Toyoda has long been outspoken against EVs as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to cutting vehicle emissions, believing traditional internal combustion engines can remain – albeit using hydrogen as fuel instead of petrol and diesel.
However, Toyota’s slow uptake of EVs has led many to criticise the car giant for being late to the game, with its first fully battery-powered vehicle – the bZ4X – launching in 2021.
By contrast, Toyota has previously claimed the resources used to produce one battery-powered EV could build 90 hybrids – offsetting more emissions from the start of production until the scrapheap.
In addition to its investment in hybrid vehicles, Toyota has also been one of the most vocal supporters of fuel-cell hydrogen technology, as well as hydrogen as a substitute for petrol – showcasing its development work in a number of GR Corolla and GR Yaris prototypes.
Last week, Mr Toyoda used the Tokyo Auto Salon modified car show as his platform to show support for engine makers, vowing to keep petrol power alive for the foreseeable future.
“To all those who have made engines up until now, let’s continue to make engines,” Mr Toyoda said at the 2024 Tokyo Auto Salon.
“Everyone’s help will continue to be needed. I will never let all the work you’ve all done so far go to waste.
“Many of our 5.5 million colleagues make engine parts. These people support Japan and have the skills to make the Japan of tomorrow strong. We must never lose these people.
“However, there seem to be cases in which engine-related people cannot borrow money from a bank these days. That should not happen, and I want to do something about it.
“Some people like battery EVs. Some say that now is the time for hybrids. And then there are plug-in hybrid vehicles and hydrogen.
“The motive force could be anything. There is always one truth. The only enemy is carbon.”
In 2023, Toyota hybrid models accounted for 72,084 sales in Australia – a massive 66 per cent of the total hybrid and plug-in hybrid market.
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