Toyota was skeptical of electric vehicles back when that wasn’t fashionable. In October 2022, for instance, then-CEO Akio Toyoda said that EVs “are just going to take longer than the media would like us to believe.” As other big carmakers made bold proclamations about when they would go all electric, Toyota refused to play along, vowing instead to keep offering a wide array of powertrains and letting consumers decide for themselves.
“That’s our strategy and we’re sticking to it,” Toyoda insisted, vowing to focus on hybrids, which this carmaker pioneered with the release of the Prius in Japan in 1997, and three years later in the U.S. Since then, the Japanese giant has steadily increased its hybrid offerings.
“Toyota is not correctly responding to calls from the market to take a lead in electric vehicles,” Satoru Aoyama, senior director at Fitch Ratings, told the Financial Times, warning the carmaker could “lose investor confidence.”
Environmentalists were none too pleased, either. “The fact is: a hybrid today is not green technology,” blogged Katherine Garcia, director of the Sierra Club’s Clean Transportation For All campaign. “The Prius hybrid runs on a pollution-emitting combustion engine found in any gas-powered car…Rather than invest in EVs, though, Toyota is putting corporate profits and the status quo over tackling the climate crisis.”