Recently, Toyota’s North American CEO, Jim Lentz, declared that the giant automaker does not think that electric cars are the future of personal mobility. People fainted, others became angry, but those who have been following Toyota’s rhetoric on alternative fuels for the past few years were anything but surprised.
For a while now, Toyota executives have been reiterating the company’s stance on the future of alternative fuels. Unlike some, it is not into the denial game that internal combustion engines are going the way of the dinosaur (or, at least the way of the alligator). Instead of placing its faith in the long-term solution of electrification like Nissan, Tesla, and some other automakers, Toyota is still placing its bets on gasoline-electric hybrids in the short-term and hydrogen vehicles for the future.
The declaration by Lentz also isn’t surprising considering that Toyota broke off an arrangement with Tesla not too long ago, ending a project to start bringing electric cars to the masses. Elon Musk might like everyone to think that he dumped Toyota, but everyone knows which way it went. The two automakers also had an agreement for the production of batteries for 2,500 RAV4 EVs, which also recently ended. Lentz hinted that his employer will not be looking for a new battery supplier, choosing instead to pour its resources into the development of future hydrogen technologies.
Toyota views hybrid cars like its Prius, the Lexus CT 200h and the growing array of hybrid versions of different Toyota and Lexus models as a good interim solution to society’s problem of too much reliance on fossil fuels to get around. Admittedly, it might take some time for hydrogen powertrain technology to fully develop, not to mention the infrastructure that would be required to deliver that fuel to masses of vehicles, but Toyota hopes that its movements toward hydrogen will inspire other automakers to make bold steps forward in the same direction.