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.