The first Toyota Prius was launched in 1997, and the hybrid helped to pioneer a generation of environmentally conscious car buyers. However, the company’s stance towards clean car technologies has not been as clear to consumers as of late.
Toyota has become one of the auto industry’s strongest enemies of swift, mainstream adoption of electric vehicles, through political alliances and lobby groups battling carbon taxes and fuel efficiency rules, according to four people familiar with the matter in a new report from The New York Times.
The report details a number of ways the automaker has secretly opposed a move towards mainstream EV adoption, and likely because of its early investments into hydrogen fuel cells – a technology that has all but fallen by the wayside amidst the electric car revolution.
Toyota denies being opposed to EVs, to be sure, and has even announced some new Toyota EV concepts as recently as this year.
In response to claims that it was opposed to EVs, Toyota spokesperson Eric Booth said, “We agree and embrace the fact that all-electric vehicles are the future.” Booth continued, saying that Toyota believes “too little attention is being paid to what happens between today, when 98 percent of the cars and trucks sold are powered at least in part by gasoline, and that fully electrified future.”
Behind closed doors, however, Toyota avoided joining a lobbying group of automakers that reached agreements on California tailpipe emission standards that wanted tougher standards than those implemented by Trump – a move any company “embracing EVs as the future” might normally support.
In addition, and even more recently, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation lobby group argued against the California emissions agreement – thought to be a precursor and basis for similar, expected Biden administration standards – saying that it wasn’t feasible, despite a global need to move towards clean energy and zero-emissions solutions, according to two familiar with the private discussions. The lobby, as it turns out, was headed up by Toyota Executive Chris Reynolds.
Toyota should be leading the automobile transition to electric vehicles, but right now it appears the Japanese automaker is dragging its feet–and losing out to companies such as Tesla in shifting to EVs.
Contributing Writer at TeslaNorth.com from California’s southeast Bay Area. Covers electric vehicles, space exploration, and all things tech. Loves a good cup of coffee, live music and puppies. Buying a Tesla? Click here to get 1,000 free Supercharging miles.