Automobile manufacturers are slowing down production of electric vehicles in response to waning American demand — just as one industry CEO had predicted they might.
Toyota Motor Chairman and former CEO Akio Toyoda “may be enjoying an ‘I told you so’ moment,” according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
“People are finally seeing reality,” said Toyoda, who is also head of the Japan Automobile Manufactures Association and was speaking with reporters Wednesday as such at the Japan Mobility Show.
“There are many ways to climb the mountain that is achieving carbon neutrality,” said Toyoda, who spent almost 14 years as the CEO of Toyota before stepping out of that role earlier this year.
Toyoda has historically been a proponent of continued investment into hybrid and other vehicles beyond the false dichotomy of electric vehicles versus traditional gas-powered internal combustion engine vehicles.
“I have continued to say what I see as reality,” Toyoda told the assembled reporters at the Japan Mobility Show, which used to be known as the Tokyo Motor Show, the Journal reported. The show was being held for the first time in four years, according to the Journal.
Last October, Toyoda announced a $70 billion, 9-year investment in electric-powered cars, but said only half of that would go to fully electric vehicles.
“Toyoda, who described Toyota as a large department store, said the company’s goal ‘remains the same, pleasing the widest possible range of customers with the widest possible range of powertrains,’” CNBC reported at the time. “Those powertrains will include hybrids and plug-in hybrids like the Prius, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles like the Mirai and 15 all-electric battery models by 2025.”
“Toyoda reiterated that he does not believe all-electric vehicles will be adopted as quickly as policy regulators and competitors think, due to a variety of reasons,” the outlet reported. “He cited lack of infrastructure, pricing and how customers’ choices vary region to region as examples of possible roadblocks.”
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The Journal noted that Toyoda’s thinking seems like wisdom in retrospect, given the current market.
The high costs of production, repair and battery replacement are only part of the problem for the nascent EV industry, the Journal said. Lack of some resources need in EV manufacturing, as well as what it called the “limited charging infrastructure,” were also working against the rapid adoption of electric vehicles.
“In the U.S., some dealers say the first wave of buyers willing to try an EV has passed and remaining buyers are deterred by high sticker prices and the limited range of many EV models,” the Journal reported.
Consumer interest in EVs just isn’t what big government regulators had hoped it would be, the outlet said.
“[I]f regulations are created based on ideals, it is regular users who are the ones who suffer,” Toyoda said.
As recently as April, Reuters was reporting that Toyota’s new CEO, Koji Sato, was making a “long overdue” shift into all-electric vehicles.
“Some of the statements that came out of Toyota when Akio Toyoda was CEO sort of made it sound kind of like hybrids are going to be there forever,” the outlet quoted investment analyst Christopher Richter as saying. “No, it’s your standby, it’s your hedge. EVs have to be first.”
Given recent plunging demand for EVs, however, Toyoda might indeed be having a “I told you so” moment.
Author: George C. Upper III