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Toyota Is Losing the Electric Car Race, So It Pretends Hybrids Are Better

Friday March 15, 2019. 02:30 AM , from Slashdot
Ben Jervey from DeSmogBlog writes about how Toyota is 'using questionable logic' to claim hybrid vehicles are superior than electric vehicles, when in reality it's only saying that because it decided years ago to invest in gasoline-electric hybrids and fuel cells in the long term instead of battery production. This decision is now coming back to haunt them. From the report: There are at least 12 car companies currently selling an all-electric vehicle in the United States, and Toyota isn't one of them. Despite admitting recently that the Tesla Model 3 alone is responsible for half of Toyota's customer defections in North America -- as Prius drivers transition to all-electric -- the company has been an outspoken laggard in the race to electrification. Now, the company is using questionable logic to attempt to justify its inaction on electrification, claiming that its limited battery capacity better serves the planet by producing gasoline-electric hybrids. For years, Toyota leadership has shunned investment in all-electric cars, laying out a more conservative strategy to 'electrify' its fleet -- essentially doubling down on hybrids and plug-in hybrids -- as a bridge to a future generation of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. As Tesla, Nissan, and GM have led the technological shift to fully battery electric vehicles, Toyota has publicly bashed the prospects of all-electric fleets. (See, for instance, the swipe the company took at plug-in vehicles in this recent Toyota Corolla Hybrid commercial.)

Last week, at the Geneva Auto Show, a Toyota executive provided a curious explanation for the company's refusal to launch a single battery electric vehicle. As Car and Driver reported, Toyota claims that it is limited by battery production capacity and that 'Toyota is able to produce enough batteries for 28,000 electric vehicles each year -- or for 1.5 million hybrid cars.' In other words, because Toyota has neglected to invest in battery production, it can only produce enough batteries for a trivial number of all-electric vehicles. Due to this self-inflicted capacity shortage, the company is forced to choose between manufacturing 1.5 million hybrids or 28,000 electric cars. Using what Car and Driver called 'fuzzy math,' the company tried to justify the strategy to forgo electric vehicles (EVs) on environmental grounds. As Toyota explained it, 'selling 1.5 million hybrid cars reduces carbon emissions by a third more than selling 28,000 EVs.' As for the 'fuzzy math,' Toyota's calculation 'seems to assume that for every hybrid sold, a fully gasoline-powered car would be taken off the road,' writes Jervey. 'In reality, many Toyota hybrid buyers are replacing a Toyota hybrid. And, based on Toyota's own revelation that they are losing Prius drivers to Tesla, it stands to reason that many Toyota hybrid drivers would jump at the opportunity to transition to an all-electric Toyota.'

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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