2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

Here’s A Closer Look At Why Toyota Chooses Hybrids Over EVs

Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda made waves in the automotive world recently when he proclaimed that electric vehicles (EVs) would account for no more than 30 percent of the market share. While the Japanese automotive icon took the crown as the world’s number one car maker for 2023, EVs made up a small percentage of their roughly 11 million sales last year, accounting for less than one percent.

While some people have criticized Toyota’s reluctance to embrace EVs during the ongoing EV revolution, the company’s sales numbers show they understand how to give consumers what they want. It paints their decision to focus more on producing hybrid vehicles than electric ones as a deliberate, savvy move.

But what’s behind Toyota’s decision?

EV Success Has Eluded Toyota

According to a report from Hotcar, Toyota’s electric SUV, the bZ4X, which the company introduced to the United States in 2021, sold less than 10,000 units last year. The bZ4X is a solid EV option for consumers, too; it gets around 252 miles of driving range and has a starting price of around $43,000. However, the vehicle did have a recall for loose wheel bolts, which could affect potential buyers’ willingness to take a chance on it. It’s important to note that Toyota’s overall success allows them to dabble in different types of alternative-fuel vehicles, which is what they’ve done.

A Business Needs To Pay Attention To Its Sales

Hotcar also reports that as much as 25 percent of Toyota’s first-quarter sales in the US last year were hybrids. Compare that with the bZ4X selling less than 10,000 units for an entire year, and it is clear what consumers want and where Toyota should focus its manufacturing resources. Their RAV4 and Corolla models sold over 2 million units combined. Their electrified hybrid sales were around 3.6 million last year.

Toyota Has A Different Approach To Reach Carbon Neutrality

When Chairman Toyoda predicted EVs would never account for more than 30 percent of the market, he did not mince his words. He also pointed to CO2 being the ultimate “enemy” and said that a “multi-pathway approach” would be the best way to reach carbon neutrality. Toyoda also stated that he felt “customers, not regulations or politics,” need to determine what type of vehicles are available and that “limiting” consumers’ “choices and ability to travel by making expensive cars isn’t the answer.”

It’s a sentiment that Sean Hanley, Toyota’s head of sales and marketing for Australia, shared when he spoke to the press at the launch of the company’s Corolla Cross Hybrid, according to Hotcar’s report. Like Chairman Toyoda, Hanley pointed out that “carbon is the enemy here, not the powertrain.” He also noted that not everyone can afford an EV, so it’s important to make vehicles with various powertrain options. In addition to EVs being expensive, hybrids have better driving ranges than EVs, so the consumers who buy them don’t have to worry about range anxiety. 

Author: Jarret Hendrickson

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