Toyota warns rivals' petrol engine phase-out goals must overcome huge challenges

16 March 2021 - 14:49
By Reuters
Toyota is quick to point out that it took 20 years to sell more than four million US petrol-electric hybrid vehicles so is sceptical about aspirations by rivals to phase out petrol-powered vehicles.
Image: Frank Polich/Getty Images Toyota is quick to point out that it took 20 years to sell more than four million US petrol-electric hybrid vehicles so is sceptical about aspirations by rivals to phase out petrol-powered vehicles.

A senior Toyota executive will express scepticism before US senators Tuesday about aspirations by rival car makers to phase out petrol-powered vehicles, saying those goals must overcome many obstacles.

Robert Wimmer, director of energy & environmental research at Toyota Motor North America, will testify at a Senate energy and natural resources committee hearing.

“If we are to make dramatic progress in electrification, it will require overcoming tremendous challenges, including refuelling infrastructure, battery availability, consumer acceptance and affordability,” he will say, according to an advance copy of his remarks.

He will say that while rivals have made aspirational statements, fewer than 2% of vehicles sold in the US last year were battery electric. He will also note it took Toyota 20 years to sell more than four million US petrol-electric hybrid vehicles.

Toyota plans to begin selling two new electric vehicles in the US next year, but also aims to keeps boosting sales of hybrid cars.

Many car makers and policymakers in Washington are eager for the US government to take steps to speed the adoption of EVs. General Motors Co, the largest US car maker, announced in January it aspires to end sales of light-duty vehicles with internal combustion engines by 2035.

This month, Volvo said its entire car line-up will be fully electric by 2030. The Swedish company owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group said 50% of its global sales should be fully electric cars by 2025 and the other half hybrids.

Last month, Ford Motor Co said its line-up in Europe will be fully electric by 2030, while Tata Motors unit Jaguar Land Rover said its luxury Jaguar brand will be entirely electric by 2025.