Toyota Believes There's No Market for EVs Yet
【Summary】In a recent interview, Toyota’s sales and marketing chief claims that the demand for electric vehicles isn’t there yet, which explains why the Japanese brand still doesn’t have a battery-powered car in its lineup.
There are a few automakers that haven't boarded the electric-vehicle train. Toyota and Honda are two of the more iconic ones. Both brands have multiple hybrids in their lineups and both even have fuel cell vehicles – something very few others can claim. The decision to not have electric vehicles in their lineup while nearly every other automaker is pouring millions into manufacturing is confusing. But according to Toyota's sales and marketing chief, it all comes down to demand.
No Demand Means No EVs
During the Los Angeles Auto Show, Electrek was able to sit down with Jack Hollis, group vice president and general manager of Toyota North America, who said that there's no demand for electric cars. "We are continuously working on EV entries," Hollis said. "But right now, there's no demand."
Instead of electric cars, Toyota is more interested in hybrids and hydrogen vehicles. The new Toyota RAV4 Prime and Toyota Mirai fuel-cell vehicle are more indicative of the kind of vehicles Toyota wants to put out in the future. Since customers continue to back Toyota's hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and fuel-cell vehicles, the Japanese automaker will continue to invest money into them. Electric cars, at least for now, are out of the picture.
Electrek asked Hollis questions regarding other automakers, like Ford and Volkswagen, that are moving toward electric vehicles at a time when Toyota claims there isn't a market for them. According to Hollis, VW didn't have much of a choice. Probably because of the brand's predicament with dieselgate.
When it comes to Ford, Hollis believes the American automaker's decision to slap the Mustang name, a moniker that dates back to pony cars from the ‘60s on an odd-looking electric crossover, is because it's not quite sure about demand. "They're using the Mustang's name recognition to help them," said Hollis.
Hybrids Have Been Working For Toyota
Hollis' responses might come off as combative, but he has a point. As Digital Trends points out in an article, electric cars only made up 1.9 percent of new car sales last year. And that's with the $7,500 federal tax credit in full effect for the majority of cars. Tesla, which pretty much all but owns the EV segment, will run out of federal tax credit by the end of the year. Only time will tell if the brand's pricey electric cars continue to do well without rebates from the government.
In total, electric vehicles accounted for 240,000 units sold in America in 2018. With its hybrids alone, Toyota managed to sell roughly 138,000 electrified models last year. The automaker's luxury cousin, Lexus, sold 25,000 more units. Together, that's more than half of the entire electric market and that's just Toyota and Lexus.
While Toyota isn't interested in coming out with an electric car at the moment, Lexus recently unveiled its first EV, the UX300e, which will be sold in China and Europe. Even Hollis wouldn't rule out an electric car from the brand in the future. But with Toyota, it's not a question of "if" the brand will come out with an EV, but of "when.
Vineeth Joel Patel
Joel Patel has been covering all aspects of the automotive industry for four years as an editor and freelance writer for various websites. When it comes to cars, he enjoys covering the merger between technology and cars. In his spare time, Joel likes to watch baseball, work on his car, and try new foods
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