Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda talks EV skepticism, ‘happy dance,’ his legacy

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda speaks during a small media roundtable on Sept. 29, 2022 in Las Vegas.


LAS VEGAS — Toyota Motor CEO Akio Toyoda past week simply stated what he would like his legacy to be: “I love cars and trucks.”

Just how the 66-year-old racer, vehicle enthusiast and enterprise scion will be remembered relating to his tactic to all-electric powered cars in comparison to gas-driven functionality automobiles, like the Supra, or hybrids, like the at the time-groundbreaking Prius, will participate in out in the many years to appear.

Toyota, the world’s greatest automaker, strategies to devote $70 billion in electrified autos in excess of the following 9 decades. 50 % of that will be for all-electrical battery kinds. Whilst it can be a sizeable expenditure in EVs, it really is more compact than some competitors’ designs, and not as considerably as some would like specified Toyota’s world footprint.

Inspite of criticism from some investors and environmental groups, Toyoda this past 7 days doubled down on his method to keep on investing in a assortment of electrified vehicles as opposed to opponents this kind of as Volkswagen and Basic Motors, which have stated they are going all-in on all-electric powered autos.

The programs could arguably cement Toyoda’s “I appreciate autos” legacy or tarnish it, dependent on how quickly motorists undertake electric automobiles.

“For me, taking part in to win also suggests carrying out matters otherwise. Performing issues that other folks may possibly query, but that we think will set us in the winner’s circle the longest,” he mentioned Wednesday during Toyota’s yearly vendor assembly in Las Vegas, which, by the way, was identified as “Participating in to Earn.”

Akio Toyoda with new Toyota Supra

Paul Eisenstein | CNBC

Toyoda, who explained Toyota as a massive section retailer, said the firm’s objective “stays the similar, satisfying the widest achievable assortment of clients with the widest achievable selection of powertrains.” Those people powertrains will incorporate hybrids and plug-in hybrids like the Prius, hydrogen fuel mobile cars like the Mirai and 15 all-electric powered battery products by 2025.

Apart from the EV plans, Toyoda talked about quite a few other factors of the firm’s company past 7 days in the course of the seller meeting and a little roundtable with U.S. media.

EV rules and products

Toyoda reiterated that he does not believe that all-electrical autos will be adopted as swiftly as coverage regulators and competitors imagine, thanks to a variety of factors. He cited lack of infrastructure, pricing and how customers’ alternatives vary location to location as illustrations of feasible roadblocks.

He believes it will be “hard” to satisfy the latest polices that contact for banning traditional autos with interior combustion engines by 2035, like California and New York have reported they will adopt.

“Just like the no cost autonomous automobiles that we are all intended to be driving by now, EVs are just going to take more time to become mainstream than media would like us to think,” Toyoda explained in a recording of the remarks to dealers shown to reporters. “In the meantime, you have quite a few alternatives for customers.”

Toyoda also thinks there will be “tremendous shortages” of lithium and battery grade nickel in the next five to 10 a long time, main to generation and offer chain troubles.

Carbon neutrality

Toyota’s target is carbon neutrality by 2050, and not just by all-electric powered motor vehicles. Some have questioned the environmental effects of EVs when factoring in uncooked product mining and over-all car or truck generation.

Considering that the Prius released in 1997, Toyota claims it has bought much more than 20 million electrified automobiles throughout the world. The organization claims all those gross sales have avoided 160 million tons of CO2 emissions, which is the equal to the influence of 5.5 million all-electric battery motor vehicles.

“Toyota can make eight 40-mile plug-in hybrids for each a single 320-mile battery electrical car or truck and preserve up to eight situations the carbon emitted into the ambiance,” according to ready remarks for Toyoda presented to media.

Toyota’s hesitancy to start all-electrical automobiles has been criticized by environmental groups these as the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, which have the Japanese automaker at the bottom of vehicle-marketplace decarbonization rankings the previous two years.

Standing pat with dealers

Toyota has no options to overhaul its franchised dealership community as it invests in electrified vehicles, like some rivals have introduced.

“I know you are nervous about the foreseeable future. I know you are anxious about how this organization will change. Whilst I can’t predict the long run, I can assure you this: You, me, us, this enterprise, this franchised design is not likely anywhere. It can be staying just as it is,” he informed dealers to resounding applause.

The franchised dealer product has been below strain soon after Tesla and newer EV startups started advertising right to people than relatively by traditional sellers.

GM has available buyouts to Buick and Cadillac sellers that you should not want to make investments in EVs, although Ford final thirty day period announced dealers that want to offer EVs ought to come to be certified underneath just one of two programs — with investments of $500,000 or $1.2 million. 

‘Happy dance’

As component of lighthearted and comedic comments to sellers, Toyoda stated he danced when the automaker outsold GM very last calendar year for the 1st time ever in the U.S.

Irrespective of Toyota executives stating the accomplishment was not sustainable — GM led by way of the first half of this calendar year — Toyoda continue to felt it was induce for celebration.

“At Toyota, we like to retain our head down and not converse about our success,” Toyoda reported ahead of reenacting the dance on stage. “But when I heard you became No. 1 in the U.S. last year, I basically did a minor pleased dance in my place of work.”