Toyota President Akio Toyoda inadvertently made a case for Tesla Energy while speaking during a conference for the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association on Thursday, December 17. Toyoda stated that EVs were “overhyped” and suggested that more of them would actually worsen carbon dioxide in Japan, considering the source of the country’s electricity. Companies like Tesla Energy may be part of the solution to the issue Toyoda described.
Toyoda calculated that Japan could spend between ¥14 trillion ($135 billion) to ¥37 trillion ($358 billion) to build the infrastructure for an entire EV fleet, reported The Wall Street Journal. He also suggested that the country would run out of electricity if the roads were dominated by EVs.
“The more EVs we build, the worse carbon dioxide gets,” the Toyota chief said, drawing attention to the source of Japan’s electricity.
According to a report from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), 70% or 661 TWh of total power generation in Japan came from fossil fuels in 2019. Coal accounted for 31% of the country’s electricity generation, while natural gas accounted for 27%, last year.
Given the sources of Japan’s electricity, Toyoda’s concerns seem validated. However, his arguments also happen to support Elon Musk’s overarching goal for Tesla.
In part one of his Master Plan, Musk wrote that Tesla aims to expedite the shift from a “mine-and-burn” hydrocarbon economy to a solar electric economy. Tesla may have chosen to enter the car industry because transportation was an integral part of the hydrocarbon economy. For example, transportation accounted for 38% of Japan’s oil consumption in 2018.
Based on Toyoda’s arguments, it seems Elon Musk predicted how much the transition to EVs would affect electricity generation years ago. With that in mind, Tesla Energy and its expanding product lineup makes sense.
Tesla Energy’s work suggests that renewables and battery energy storage systems could be the answer to the power generation issues Toyoda hinted at during the conference. Tesla’s energy department has already started its journey as a utility provider in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, and possibly even Israel. Tesla Energy also established a Powerpack installation to support Osaka’s train system.