Toyota is now a laggard in a sector that is rapidly planning for an electric—not merely electrified—transition after neglecting or denigrating EVs for the past decade. Toyota’s fuel-cell automobiles haven’t exactly taken off—the Mirai is still a poor seller, even when packed with thousands of dollars’ value of hydrogen—and it’s uncertain whether its appealing but gradual redesign will help. Toyota’s advances towards electric vehicles have been cautious. Initial efforts concentrated on solid-state batteries, which have been difficult to build cost-effectively, similar to fuel cells, despite being lighter and safer than current lithium-ion batteries. The business stated last month that more standard EV vehicles would be released in the following years, although the first won’t be ready until the close of 2022.
When faced with a losing card, Toyota does what most huge firms do when they realize they are playing the wrong game: it fights to change the rules. According to the New York Times article, Toyota has pressed nations to weaken pollution rules or block fossil-fuel vehicle phaseouts. Toyota’s political donations to US lawmakers and PACs have over doubled in the last four years. Those contributions have also gotten the corporation in trouble. The corporation sponsored politicians who objected to the outcomes of 2020 presidential election being certified by funding to congresspeople who reject tighter emissions regulations. Despite promising to quit doing so in January, Toyota was found making donations to the highly controversial lawmakers just last month.
Toyota has also initiated a FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) campaign to portray electric vehicles as unreliable and unwanted. In March, Toyota Motor North America’s director in charge of the energy and environmental research, Robert Wimmer, told the Senate, “If we are to start making dramatic advancement in electrification, it will demand overcoming tremendous difficulties, such as consumer acceptance, refueling infrastructure, battery availability, and affordability.”
While such fear-mongering may have succeeded in the past when electric vehicles were more expensive and charging facilities were few, it is less effective today and it is likely be obsolete in a few years. Consumers, on the other hand, are not duped. As per recent surveys, between 30 and 40% of buyers say an electric vehicle will be their next purchase. Some are acting on their decision sooner rather than later—plug-in car sales in the United States have more than doubled in the last year, compared to only a 29% increase for the broader market.
Former Blackberry executives may recognize those two growth curves. While Blackberry sales grew after the Android and iPhone devices were introduced, in reality, they were not enough to sustain the firm for numerous years. The market had shifted, but Blackberry had failed to adapt in time. Blackberry’s handset market share is essentially zero today. Toyota still has several years to the right the ship because the automobile sector is slower to develop than the mobile phone market. However, the company’s challenges are greater: developing a new vehicle will require billions of dollars over numerous years. Despite market indications, Toyota appears to be hesitant to commit to electric vehicles today. It’s no surprise that the firm has resorted to using referees.