New Toyota CEO considers hydrogen a priority despite EV focus

Dietmar Rabich / Wikimedia Commons / “Dülmen, Auto Bertels, Toyota GR Supra -- 2021 -- 9563” / CC BY-SA 4.0

Toyota’s new CEO, Koji Sato, has confirmed that hydrogen will still receive a lot of attention from the automaker. This was despite Toyota increasing its efforts to develop and produce more compelling all-electric vehicles. 

Sato’s comments were shared on the sidelines of an endurance race at Suzuka Circuit in western Japan recently. “We want to ensure that hydrogen stays a viable option. We need a production and transport supply chain. Unless we see evolution there, we cannot expect a volume increase in the energy’s use,” Sato said. 

Somewhat ironically, Toyota had planned on competing at the race with a new GR Corolla race car powered by liquefied hydrogen, as noted in an Automotive News report. The vehicle, however, caught fire during a test run due to a leak in its hydrogen fuel line. The hydrogen race car was ultimately replaced with a combustion-powered GR Yaris. 

The incoming CEO of Toyota Motor Corp has highlighted the need for the Japanese automaker to adopt an “EV-first” mindset. Toyota is currently working on a new platform dedicated to electric vehicles for 2026, which should offer better performance at lower costs. The company expects to sell about 3.5 million electric vehicles worldwide in 2030. 

While Toyota is arguably the company that ushered in the mainstream acceptance of hybrid vehicles with its Prius, the company’s bet on hydrogen cars has been far less successful. The company currently offers the Mirai, a hydrogen-powered zero-emissions sedan that is currently in its second generation. Toyota was so confident in the Mirai’s second generation that it increased its production capacity to 30,000 units per year, a 10x increase. To date, however, Toyota has only sold 21,700 units of both the first and second-generation Mirai. 

Despite the company’s seemingly failed bet on hydrogen technology, Sato has noted that hydrogen will still play a key role in Toyota’s multi-pronged approach in the company’s efforts to achieve carbon neutrality. “We are making full-fledged efforts on everything,” the incoming CEO said, noting that Toyota will be leveraging full electric cars, hybrids, and hydrogen cars as part of its overall strategy. 

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New Toyota CEO considers hydrogen a priority despite EV focus
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