Toyota Is ‘Fully Committed’ to EVs, says White House Adviser

The automaker has been known for betting on hybrids instead.

May 04, 2023

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Toyota is “fully committed” to producing electric vehicles, according to White House senior adviser John Podesta, reports Reuters. The automaker "had been the laggard" on EV initiatives, he said.

"I think they're going to stick with plug-in hybrids for a while, maybe longer than some of the other companies, but they're fully now committed under their new leadership to electrification," Podesta told Reuters.

Toyota has three EV models on the market and sold fewer than 25,000 of them worldwide last year. However, in April, the company said it plans to bring 10 new EVs to market and aims to sell 1.5 million EVs a year by 2026. Toyota is also upping its investment in a planned North Carolina battery plant from $1.29 billion to $3.8 billion.

Toyota has expressed doubts about the transition to electric vehicles, but last August, the company reiterated its stance saying that it “believes that there is more than one option for achieving carbon neutrality,” in a statement.

“It also believes that the means of reducing CO2 emissions as much as possible and as quickly as possible while protecting the livelihoods of its customers vary greatly depending on the country and region. With such in mind, Toyota will continue to make every effort to flexibly meet the needs of its various customers in all countries and regions by offering multiple powertrains and providing as many options as possible,” the company said in the statement.

Toyota has been known to take a more cautious stance on the world’s move to EVs, with executives questioning how quickly the transition will happen due to the industry’s shortage of minerals and materials that go into making EV batteries. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Toyota believes hybrid vehicles are a better solution for regions that lack sufficient EV infrastructure and rely on fossil fuels to create electricity.

“As much as you want to talk about EVs, the marketplace isn’t mature enough,” Jack Hollis, executive vice president of sales at Toyota Motor North America, told journalists last year.

Hollis said the high cost of EVs and lack of an EV-charging infrastructure will deter consumers from widely adopting EVs. In addition, the increasing cost of EV batteries for vehicle manufacturers will likely inflate the cost of a battery-powered vehicle.

Last month, the EPA announced new proposed standards for tailpipe emissions and projects that EVs could account for 67% of new light-duty vehicle sales and 46% of new medium-duty vehicle sales by 2032.

The Biden Administration has not set a date to phase out gas-powered vehicles, unlike California, which will require all new passenger cars and light trucks sold in the state to be electric vehicles or plug-in electric hybrids by 2035.

"I don't think we think that's necessary at this point," Podesta told Reuters. However, the Biden Administration has committed to build out an EV-charging network of 500,000 charging stations by 2030 using $7.5 billion in infrastructure funds.

"We got (Tesla) ... to open up their network, which took us much closer and much faster to the eventual goal of building the spine of EV-charging stations. We have 500,000 of them we have to push out. We need about 3 million plus," White House infrastructure adviser Mitch Landrieu told Reuters.

In February, the White House announced new EV charging initiatives that will accelerate “the buildout of a convenient, reliable charging network is critically important to make electric vehicle charging a seamless experience,” wrote the White House in a statement.

In its announcement, the White House commended Pilot Company’s partnership with General Motors and charging network EVGo to install 2,000 fast chargers at Pilot and Flying J centers along U.S. highways. It also applauded TravelCenters of America’s collaboration with Electrify America to install 1,000 EV chargers at 200 locations along major highways over the next five years, as well as bp’s partnership with Hertz on an EV charging network for the car-rental firm’s customers, powered by bp pulse, bp’s global electrification and charging solution brand.

For convenience retailers looking to bring EV charging to their locations, NACS launched the EV Infrastructure Matchmaking Tool, which connects retailers with EV charging companies for all aspects and stages of offering electric vehicle supply equipment.