Toyota's success as an early pioneer of
hybrid carsis well-known. It was the world's first automaker to introduce a gasoline-electric hybrid for mass production. The ground-breaking Toyota Prius remains a popular option for hybrid car lovers to this day.
But while the
electric vehicle(EV) industry is experiencing an unprecedented boom around the globe, Toyota is lagging behind. Instead, the automotive giant is heavily invested in hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles.
The Drive, the company's insistence on sticking to its hybrid plan may be shortsighted. Innovators like Tesla and other big automakers are forging ahead of Toyota.
Is betting on the future of hydrogen a dead-end for Toyota?
Toyota thinks hydrogen vehicles will serve as a bridge between gasoline-powered cars and fully electric cars. The company recently announced plans to develop hydrogen fuel cell trucks. It believes these trucks will offer quicker refueling and better range compared to battery-electric vehicles.
The problem with the plan is the lack of hydrogen distribution networks in the United States and elsewhere in the world. EV charging infrastructure continues to grow and not many automakers are investing in hydrogen fuel cell technology.
Hydrogen fuel cells do have their advantages. Trucks could travel the roads for days without refueling. The need to store power in heavy stacks of batteries could be eliminated. But Toyota could be backing the wrong horse as battery-electric cars find more and more success.
What is Toyota's long-term strategy?
Toyota doesn't believe that battery-electric vehicles are a one-size-fits-all solution. The automaker is banking on a multi-faceted approach to the future of transportation. This idea differs drastically from others in the industry.
Companies like General Motors and Ford have pledged to phase out diesel and gasoline-powered engines altogether in the near future. Toyota, on the other hand, is convinced buyers will want other options even as the EV market expands.
It’s too early to say which automaker has the best strategy. Toyota sees hybrids as a necessary and pivotal stepping stone to a fully electric transportation system. Many consumers are hesitant about
switching to EVsbecause of range anxiety and hybrids can be a good starting point.
Toyota is working to slow electric vehicle rollouts
Toyota is finding itself far behind its competitors in the shift to electric. Rather than ramp up its EV lineup, executives in the company are trying to slow the adoption of EVs. According to The Drive, they’re working to limit funding for EV-related projects both in the U.S. and around the world.
Lobbyists for the company are meeting with Washington congressional lawmakers in an effort to delay the transition. They hope to convince them that hydrogen and hybrid vehicles should play a larger role in the
Biden administration's infrastructure plan.
The imminent transition to EVs has been on the minds of automakers for years. Toyota threatens to thwart the progress of EV development for other manufacturers.
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