Toyota Australia executive: Still “too early” for electric vehicles

Tokumeigakarinoaoshima, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

As Australia’s leading automaker, Toyota has sparked some debate over vehicle pollution limits in the country, with an executive suggesting that electric vehicles are not yet ready to replace all cars. The executive also noted that a full shift to EVs could leave thousands of motorists without suitable alternatives.

The comments were shared by Toyota Australia’s sales boss, Sean Hanley. While Hanley acknowledged Toyota’s strong support for the government’s fuel-efficiency standard aimed at capping vehicle emissions and promoting low-emission vehicle imports, he argued that relying solely on EVs was “simplistic.”

“It is too early. What battery electric vehicle do we have right now on sale in Australia that can tow 2.5 tonnes for 600 km? We don’t. It doesn’t exist.

“If we just move to only zero-emission vehicles, what are you going to tell the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Australians who tow caravans, who use their cars for work, who need their cars on the land, who need their cars in the mine, who need more than a 200 or 300 km range?” Hanley said.

Hanley, however, clarified that Toyota was “not against battery electric vehicle technology.” He also noted that the carmaker would launch its own EV in Australia by the end of the year. Despite this, the executive argued that hybrid vehicles are still the more practical solution at the moment.

“We’ve spoken to the government, and I think we have represented the silent voices of hundreds of thousands of Australian consumers who use their cars for leisure, towing, and lots of other activities. I know some lobby groups have alleged we’ve tried to stop, prevent, stall electrification, but that’s not true. We’ve simply represented the market truth and the market reality,” Hanley noted.

The Toyota executive’s comments received responses from electric vehicle advocates. Electric Vehicle Council Chief Executive Behyad Jafari, for one, noted that EV technology has already been proven successful in many other countries and is gaining popularity in Australia.

“When we hear those arguments, what we need to pay close attention to is the economic interest of the car company. Some businesses haven’t spent time developing electric vehicles, and they don’t have a firm enough grasp on the issues,” Jafari said.

Greenpeace campaigner Lindsay Soutar, on the other hand, argued that Australians would not accept weaker vehicle pollution standards or delayed action anymore. Soutar noted that Toyota’s arguments for hybrid vehicles would also lock customers into fossil fuels for years to come.

“Toyota has stalled on pure electric cars, opting to promote hybrid and fuel-cell technologies that will lock customers into paying for fossil fuels for decades to come. Pushing for petrol cars in 2023, in the middle of a climate and cost-of-living crisis, is laughable, and Australians won’t be convinced,” Soutar said.

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Toyota Australia executive: Still “too early” for electric vehicles
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