cars: Toyota fumbles the future

Old-line car companies mangle the English language and engage in doublespeak when they talk about how they are leaders in “electrification” and that soon all their cars will be “electrified.” All “electrified” means is their cars will have something more than the 100-year-old 12-Volt battery.

Let’s look at Toyota. All its “electrified” cars all have gas engines! It does not sell a single car without an engine. Its upcoming true Battery Electric Vehicle is for Japan only; it is a laughable kei car (mini car) with a top speed of 37 miles per hour. And it’s tragic when you remember how Toyota earlier made two generations of fine RAV4 EVs, the second in conjunction with Tesla. Toyota squandered that expertise and instead made a massively stupid bet on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, despite hydrogen’s cost, inefficiency, and lack of infrastructure. It’s the only car company left pushing HFCVs over BEVs, so no country other than Japan will install the thousands of hydrogen refueling stations required. Honda and Mazda have balked at the dumb industrial policy of The Hydrogen Economy™ and are releasing good BEVs, so we’ll see how much longer Toyota and the Japanese government waltz together into this abyss. Toyota does make a decent plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, the Prius Prime. But consumers aren’t excited by half-measures with a tailpipe. VW is gearing up to sell BEVs in large volumes; Toyota is talking up the weasel-word “electrification” and clearly hoping BEVs will be a small slice, environment and livable planet be damned. Hence its mind-blowingly stupid decision to side with the Trump animation in opposing California’s fuel/emissions regulations. That was a great way to tattoo “We are no longer the leader in environmentally responsible cars” on your forehead.

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One Response to cars: Toyota fumbles the future

  1. skierpage says:

    Four years later, Toyota is still fumbling. It’s making me-too EV crossovers in small numbers, but its BZ4X is underwhelming, the Lexus RZ is not competitive.

    On a tepid Ars Technica review of the latter (“Lexus’ 2023 RZ 450e disappoints, offering poor EV range and a bumpy ride”) I pointed out how when Tesla was converting the RAV4 in 2012, “Toyota had an inside view of the progress of EVs, it surely knew how great the Model S was going to be, and yet it did nothing. Insane.”

    Thtat triggered YATA (yet another Toyota apologist) to counter with

    > A good car doesn’t necessarily equate to a great or successful car company. They could also see all of the manufacturing mistakes Tesla was making and how close to the edge of bankruptcy they were. You should also remember that Tesla wasn’t even making over 50K cars a year until mid 2018. It was a VERY boutique manufacturer, of low-volume, rather expensive cars.

    But that’s an even more damning attack on Toyota’s competence. Tesla develops a great car but has trouble making it, Toyota is a great car company, it KNOWS how underwhelming the Mirai is going to be, and instead of “We need to immediately figure out a response to this, because it proves EVs are not going to stay kei-cars and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV!”, Toyota kept on doing what it was doing. The future was staring in their f***ing faces, and Toyota’s entire culture, from the CEO on down, blew it. There’s no other explanation despite Toyota’s world-wide army of apologists.

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