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Toyota claims that the rate of electrification is dictated by consumer preferences

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English -  Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) has announced the launch of a Toyota Motor Corp pushed back against c...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) has announced the launch of a Toyota Motor Corp pushed back against critics who claim the company has been reluctant to adopt battery electric vehicles, stating that it needed to provide a variety of vehicle options to appeal to diverse markets and customers.
At its annual general meeting on Wednesday, the world's largest automaker by sales reaffirmed its commitment to technology such as fuel cell vehicles and hybrids, which have made it a leader in cleaner vehicles for the past two decades.

Aside from concerns about the company's electrification strategy, Toyota executives answered questions about anything from CEO succession plans to the persistent semiconductor shortage.

Toyota has been under pressure from certain investors for not phasing out gasoline-powered cars and campaigning on climate legislation, while being a favourite with environmentalists for the hybrid Prius model it popularised more than two decades ago.

"Our goal is carbon neutrality," Toyota's Chief Technology Officer Masahiko Maeda said at the meeting in response to queries from Danish pension fund AkademikerPension, which also asked Toyota to stop from lobbying against the transition to battery electric vehicles.

However, in order to popularise electric automobiles, including plug-in hybrids, "buyers must choose," according to Maeda. He believes that a wide range of options should be offered, and that the automaker should not limit them.

Toyota claims that hybrids are still viable in markets where infrastructure isn't ready to support a faster transition to battery electric vehicles, and it's looking into the potential of alternative fuels for internal combustion engines, such as hydrogen.

According to Seiji Sugiura, a senior analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute, there is a divide between Toyota, which takes a "pragmatic" approach to decarbonization, and environmental groups, which demand fast action.

He added that the perspectives are not diametrically opposed, and that Toyota has been working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the vehicle manufacturing stage.

Last year, the business pledged to invest 8 trillion yen ($60 billion) in electrifying its vehicles by 2030, with half of that going toward the development of completely electric vehicles. Nonetheless, yearly sales of such automobiles are expected to reach only 3.5 million by the end of the decade, or about a third of current sales.

Toyota just released its first mass-produced all-electric vehicle in Japan, though only for lease, and gasoline-electric hybrids remain significantly more popular in the country.


When asked about succession planning, CEO Akio Toyoda, who has been in charge of the corporation for 13 years, said he was "considering timing and the selection of a successor."

The corporation has given no hint that Toyoda intends to retire.

Toyoda, 66, a grandson of business founder Kiichiro Toyoda, led Toyota through a difficult period in which sales plummeted following the recall of millions of automobiles and the company reported billions in losses.

"As my successor, I'd choose someone who understands the company's ideology," he continued.

Toyota's corporate culture has been reformed under Toyoda, who has spent more time with younger executives and reduced senior posts.

He promoted corporate veterans Maeda and Kenta Kon to executive positions in 2020. Both were 51 years old at the time, which was a youthful age for a top Toyota executive.

Toyota, which sold 10.5 million vehicles in 2021, considerably outstripping next competitor Volkswagen AG, has reduced production several times this year due to a global semiconductor shortage.

The chip scarcity is expected to persist, though there are signs of recovery, according to Kazunari Kumakura, head of the company's purchasing group.

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