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Toyota’s North American CEO Isn’t Exactly Brimming With Enthusiasm for EVs

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2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e blue - Image: Toyota

With regards to electric automobiles, Toyota’s North American CEO appears to be on a special web page than the corporate’s huge boss, Akio Toyoda. A special web page than Ford and Common Motors, too. Perhaps it’s as a result of Toyoda has all the globe in his sights, together with many EV-hungry markets, whereas Jim Lentz can solely go searching, see low, low fuel costs and a distinct segment market dominated by a single participant, and really feel a rush of meh.

Lentz aired his views on our would-be electric future Wednesday, suggesting it might take draconian measures by the federal government to pry a wholesome slice of People away from the fuel pump. He’s not too enthused with Tesla, both.

Talking on the Automotive Information World Congress in Detroit, Lentz stated the hype surrounding Tesla belies the truth that circumstances for EV adoption within the U.S. are horrible, Wards Auto reports.

“(Tesla CEO Elon Musk) has excited lots of people about EVs,” Lentz stated. “I fear slightly bit we’re over-stimulated in our perception that EVs are going to take over the world shortly. As we speak, when you take a look at simply various automobiles (hybrid, plug-in hybrid, BEV, or fuel-cell) there are ninety four nameplates on the market. They usually bought about 600,000 (models) final yr. However solely seven bought greater than 2,000 a month.”

In Lentz’s thoughts, nothing in need of authorities regulation might pressure shoppers to step away from sub two-greenback gasoline and nudge the EV take fee up at an inexpensive clip. Continued sluggish progress, led by one producer (Tesla), is what the longer term holds, he claims.

“There’s not a lot progress in that business,” Lentz stated, including that some automakers may be focusing an excessive amount of on the longer term and never on the subsequent few years.

Certainly, Wards knowledge exhibits simply over 1.2 % of latest automobiles bought within the U.S. final yr have been battery electric automobiles. Whereas EV gross sales did rise 103.7 % in 2018, the majority of that gross sales tally was taken up by Tesla. Hybrids, each regular and plug-in, nonetheless outsold EVs by greater than two to at least one.

Because the creator of the primary mass-market hybrid vehicle, Toyota has expressed doubt concerning the rush to area absolutely electric automobiles earlier than. It’s nonetheless bullish on hybrids, however has, particularly prior to now yr or two, proven a willingness to advance its personal plans for EVs. There’s now a plan to introduce 10 such fashions in numerous markets by early subsequent decade.

As a result of Tesla is such an enormous participant in America’s nonetheless area of interest EV market, Lentz doesn’t see it as a serious competitor to his enterprise, although he admits it could possibly be hurting Prius gross sales.

“(Musk) is creating a completely new phase of automobiles,” he stated, including that 70 % of Tesla consumers are beholden to the model, and wouldn’t contemplate a competitor’s product. “And by that, I don’t view Tesla merchandise as luxurious merchandise. These of us who solely separate the world between luxurious and non-luxurious, we’re lacking the purpose. Tesla has created this new class of a know-how-pushed product.”

Whereas Toyota’s Prius and Prius Prime plug-in don’t overlap with any present Tesla when it comes to price, private funds can change and the Tesla model has already overtaken the Prius nameplate in eco snob attraction. Gross sales of the Prius household fell 19.four % in 2018.

[Image: Toyota]

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