Toyota achieves zero-emissions goal by converting old models

I THINK – To accelerate the global movement towards clean vehicles, Toyota is proposing to simply replace the internal workings of vehicles already on the road with cleaner technologies such as fuel cells and electric motors.

“I don’t want to leave out any car enthusiast,” Chief Executive Akio Toyoda said Friday, appearing on stage at the Tokyo Auto Show, an industry event similar to global auto shows.

The message was clear: Toyota Motor Corp. wants the world to know that it is not far behind electric cars, as some detractors have hinted.

Japan’s biggest automaker, behind the Lexus luxury brands and the Prius hybrid, is underlining its clout: it has all the technology, engineering, financial reserves and industry expertise it needs to remain a strong competitor in the green car space.

Toyoda told reporters that it will take a long time for all cars to become zero-emissions, as they make up only a fraction of the cars sold. Changing older cars to green ones, or “conversions,” was the best option, he said.

Toyoda, the grandson of the company’s founder and an avid racer himself, also hoped to dispel the stereotype that clean cars aren’t as fun as regular ones.

To highlight, at the Toyota Gazoo Racing stand, the maker of Lexus luxury models and the Camry sedan showed a video of its triumph in world rallies, as well as battery and hydrogen versions of the Toyota AE86 series, including the Toyota Corolla Levin. what Toyoda called its “transformation” strategy.

The automotive industry is undergoing a transformation due to growing concerns about climate change. Car manufacturers are often blamed for this.

Toyoda said the auto industry’s environmental efforts are beginning to be appreciated in many countries, but he felt less appreciated in Japan.

Toyota has dominated the industry with its hybrid technology, exemplified by the Prius, which has both an electric motor and a gasoline engine that switch back and forth to provide the most efficient drive. This was often seen as a reflection of his reluctance to go fully electric.

Battery electric cars make up about 20% of the car market, despite the buzz about upstarts like Tesla and even Dyson. Europe is still ahead of the US and Japan in the move to electricity.

And is it unfair to classify Japanese automakers as “economical” laggards?

First, shortages of some components, such as lithium, could drive up the price of electric cars and consumers could turn to hybrids, says Matthias Schmidt, chief automotive analyst at Schmidt Automotive Research.

“If it was 2025 and you asked the same question, I would say the Japanese OEMs missed the boat. But given that it is now 2023 and companies like Toyota are starting to roll out BEVs, their timelines are likely on schedule,” he said.


Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter

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