While the Japanese automaker has made considerable strides in the electric plug-in and hybrid market thanks to their various Prius model variants, it has been quite some time since we’ve seen a purely electric vehicle from Toyota. According to Jack Hollis, the general manager of Toyota Motor North America, it is unlikely we’ll be seeing a Toyota all-electric car anytime soon.
With other well-known automakers pushing desperately towards electrification, it always appeared rather odd that Toyota never seemed to step outside of the plug-in and hybrid world in order to construct a fully-electric car to compete with the ever changing marketplace.
According to Jack Hollis, Toyota dealers don’t believe they can sell enough fully-electric vehicles to warrant a business case, plain and simple.
During a roundtable interview at the recent Los Angeles Auto Show, Hollis shared:
“If our dealers, and we just met with our national dealer council two weeks ago, if our dealers felt like there was a significant demand (for EVs) we would have already had fully electric and electric vehicles already on the road today.
“Having that technology, which you’ll remember if you go back the electric RAV4 was one of the first electric offerings in the marketplace in the US, period. So the technology there and what we can offer is available, but like any good demand and supply economy, if the demand is low, do you really want to supply?”
Longtime fans of the Japanese automaker may remember the RAV4 EV, the first Toyota all-electric car. Initially introduced in 1997, the fully-electric crossover was discontinued in 2003 before Toyota later reintroduced a second model in 2012. The second generation RAV4 EV, unfortunately, was discontinued after just a few years on the market. In spite of the RAV4 EV’s relatively short lifespan, its very existence shows that Toyota do know how to make fully-electric vehicles—they just don’t believe they can make money doing so at the moment.
“But I will say at the exact same time, there is daily investment going into fuel cell technology, BEV technology, plug-in technology and hybrid technology. And all four are part of our electrification strategy, so I do not believe that our dealers, and they would agree, that we should not go down just with an electric offering but we should with an electrification offering where we have a wider range of products, a wide range of energy sources and uses available. And that’s really what were pursuing, a wider range. And then as we go over time well be able to see where the marketplace moves. But at this point, there is no reason to race that to market.”
Toyota clearly plans to take their time as they ease into the electric vehicle marketplace, which we can’t fault them for. Unlike automakers like Volkswagen who claim to be able to pump out over 50 million electric vehicles, it’s interesting to see Toyota opt for a slower, more relaxed pace in regards to their electrification goals. Only time will tell when we’ll see another Toyota all-electric car, but we hope it will be well worth the wait.
“No demand” ?!
An absurd standard cop-out alibi. So there’s “no demand” for the Hyundai Kona or Niro eSUVs, right ? Toyota barely advertised the oruginal Toyota RAV4 EV/eSUV and the world’s media outside of California and Japan religiously refused to report its existence.
It gained a very loyal following and fan-base with the tiny minority of Americans and Japanese who actually knew it existed and either leased one or eventually bought one when EV campaigners succeeded in persuading Toyota NOT to recall them all and crush them as GM did with the EV1.
No the only problem facing Hyundai right now is that demand for the Kona & Niro eSUVs is sky-high, the company is refusing to dramatically ramp up paltry production volumes and customers are being forced to wait more than 6 months till delivery. Obviously the prospect of having to wait 6-12 months for any EV deters countless would-be customers from making the ICE-to-EV switch in the first place.
For all those who’ve still not seen Chris Paine’s film “Who Killed the Electric Car” or
who missed the understated appearances of the RAV4 therein – the whole film is freely available on Youtube with Spanish subtitles(Search: “Quien mata al coche electrico ?” )
Final thought re “demand”. Companies/corporations can notoriously create massive demand and obsessive interest in almost anything – via TV air-time and advertising – haven’t Toyota noticed that over the past 50+ years or what ?
Toyota’s attitude towards full electric cars is very interesting. They have enjoyed being THE hybrid car with the Prius, but failed to grab a foothold in the full electric space. They’ve been comfortable in the mild-hybrid market for a long time and it seems like they don’t want to push towards full EVs because they will no longer be ‘top dog’. It also might be the reason that Toyota is pushing for fuel-cell over electric cars, as there is no one currently putting as much effort into it and they’ll hope that they can be THE fuel cell vehicle. This is all speculation of course. But Toyota’s attitude towards electrification has also been weird to me.