Toyota previews a BEV lineup
After systematically downplaying the significance of battery-electric vehicles for years Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) displayed 16 battery-electric concept vehicles in Tokyo on December 14.
The 16 battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) shown were said to be among 30 new BEV passenger-cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles TMC plans to roll out by 2030.
At the same time, TMC announced that almost A$100 billion would be spent on carbon-reducing and carbon-neutral vehicles and technologies between now and 2030.
The total includes almost A$25 billion to accelerate the development of more-advanced and affordable batteries, an amount that is one-third higher than the R&D amount announced only in September.
Half of the investment funds are planned for research, development and capital expenditure for BEVs, while the other half is for hybrid-electric (HEV), plug-in hybrid-electric (PHEV) and fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEV).
TMC’s BEV sales target is 3.5 million vehicles per year by 2030 – which is an increase of 75 percent on the previous annual sales projection of two million BEVs, issued in May 2021.
That’s a tall order in eight years, but may be helped by the inclusion of collaborative-brand vehicles. For example, some of the vehicles on display were made by Mazda and Subaru, with Toyota tech input.
This stated position is a huge turnaround by TMC President Akio Toyoda, who in 2020 was an active supporter of then-president Donald Trump’s efforts to annul California’s clean-air initiative – joining GM and Fiat-Chrysler in a highly criticised step that caused a sales backlash in the USA. (GM quickly changed its stance after the California Government canned all GM purchases.)
On top of that, in April 2021, Toyota had to pay a US$180 million fine to the US Government over persistent violations of EPA emissions laws.
The sudden BEV turnaround makes it seem that market pressure has finally worked its way to the top at TMC.
This progress may eventually find its way Down Under, but there’s no incentive for that, given that the prime minister thinks that electric vehicles can’t tow: he’s obviously never been in a train.
The Toyota Beyond Zero (bZ) proposed models include a mid-size SUV and a large SUV with third-row seats. However, the problem we see at OTA for a BEV or full hybrid PHEV 4WD is battery weight: the 300 Series has limited payload already.
Toyota Australia president and CEO Matthew Callachor stressed the importance of having a diverse approach to electrification:
“We are absolutely committed to providing our customers with a range of technologies that will help them on their journey to zero emissions, based on their individual circumstances and ensuring we leave no-one behind,” Mr Callachor said.
“Importantly, Toyota is not limited to a single technical solution, because Australians have vastly different motoring needs, with locations from inner cities to suburbs, regional and rural areas and Outback Australia.”