Toyota Motor Corp President Akio Toyoda recently shared a subtle dig at self-driving cars during a meeting with the company’s dealers. The Toyota executive argued that the electric vehicle transition would take longer than expected.
“Just like the fully autonomous cars that we were all supposed to be driving by now, BEVs are just going to take longer to become mainstream than the media would like us to believe,” Toyoda said during the meeting.
While Toyoda seems to still be skeptical about the electric vehicle industry, Toyota has taken notable steps to ensure that it has some footing in the emerging electric vehicle sector. Last August, Toyota announced that it would be increasing its investment in a new battery plant in the United States from $1.29 billion to $3.8 billion — a decision that seemed partly influenced by the growing consumer demand for EVs.
The automaker also recognized California’s authority to set vehicle emissions standards under the US Clean Air Act, according to a Reuters report.
That being said, Toyoda stood by the Japanese automaker’s diversified strategy with its vehicle offerings, stating that “playing to win means playing with all the cards in the deck – not just a select few. So that’s our strategy and we’re sticking to it.” The executive compared Toyota to a “department store” in the way that it sells a variety of cars to customers with varying needs.
Toyoda listed several obstacles to the greater adoption of electric vehicles, such as EVs’ potential adverse effects on electrical infrastructure, as well as the fact that over 1 billion people worldwide still lack easy access to electricity. This may be one of the reasons why Toyota only expects to sell 3.5 million EVs annually by the end of the decade, about one-third of its current sales of gasoline-powered vehicles.
The executive’s words appear to have been appreciated by the company’s dealers. Steve Gates, a Toyota dealer who operates in Kentucky and Indiana, noted that the automaker’s diversified approach makes sense. “You can’t make a living just selling EVs,” Gates said.
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