Entering the fascinating world of Toyota and electric vehicles is like entering a botanical paradise. Toyota is moving at its speed, but the big Western automakers are placing all of their hope in the electrification of their ranges.
In actuality, the Japanese manufacturer has already planned the release of a large selection of fully electric vehicles starting in 2026. Additionally, to lower prices and increase the range of its cars, it is developing several battery technologies, including solid-state and lithium. Their target is to sell 600,000 electric vehicles by 2025, compared to just 95,000 in 2023 (or 1% of total sales worldwide).
The aforementioned indicates that Toyota is not giving up on creating and investing in alternative propulsion technologies. Toyota has stuck with traditional hybrids, the technology that helped establish the brand a few decades ago, and its sales have remained strong globally. Toyota is still dedicated to advancing fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, even if very few vehicles are now available.
Akio Toyoda doubts electric cars again.
This strategy has names and surnames: Akio Toyoda, who was CEO of Toyota until March 2023 and current president, has been one of the cornerstones for the growth of the brand in the last 15 years, but also when it comes to skipping that first phase of electrification of the car ranges that we have seen in the rest of the manufacturers.
The founder of the car brand’s grandson and great-grandson has expressed his displeasure with the current state of the automotive industry and the pressure on automakers to electrify vehicle ranges. Toyoda only talks about the methods for achieving carbon neutrality by 2050—rather than the goal itself.
He resigned as the brand’s CEO, but he still serves as president of the board. Toyoda made a statement during a briefing on the company’s manufacturing method that has received much attention. He predicts that electric cars will only represent 30% of the market share “no matter how much they advance.” For Toyoda, the rest will be replaced by hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen vehicles: “I think cars with combustion engines will remain.”
Curiously, the former president of Toyota has emerged in recent years as one of the opponents of the widespread adoption of electric vehicles, arguing that the time is not right and advocating for more lenient government rules.
Toyoda believes that the worldwide market share of electric automobiles will stay around 30%, although, in reality, specific significant markets are either beyond or nearly above that level. For instance, Norway again had the most critical global sales in 2023, with 100% of automobiles being electric, accounting for 82.4% of total sales.
They already stand at 32% in Sweden, a neighboring nation, and 24% in China or the Netherlands. After selling 1.2 million electric vehicles in the previous year, the United States, for instance, is currently at 7.6% and hopes to reach double digits by 2024. China is a perfect illustration of how quickly statistics can change. Before almost accounting for a quarter of revenue in 2023, they only made up 6% of sales in 2020.
According to BloombergNEF calculations, the proportion of electric car sales by 2040 is expected to reach 75%, far higher than the forecasts made by the previous Toyota president. As has previously happened with other major companies like Kodaq, IBM, or Nokia, a company with one of the least established supply chains for electric cars today stands in danger of becoming a victim of the dreaded “innovator’s dilemma.”