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Toyota’s CEO: ‘Silent Majority’ Want More Than Just EVs in the Future

Akio Toyoda says hydrogen- and hybrid-powered vehicles will have a role to play, too. It happens that Toyota has a few to sell.

One-size-fits-all solutions are rarely the answer to any large problem. When it comes to a problem that’s Earth-sized? That answer may have multiple solutions, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda claims. 

“Because the right answer is still unclear, we shouldn’t limit ourselves to just one option,” Toyoda told reporters in Thailand, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Toyoda’s sentiment shouldn’t be surprising for a few reasons. First, his company makes a mass-market hybrid positioned as a viable alternative for anyone looking to make the switch to electrification without going fully electric. Naturally, he has a vested interest in compelling new-car shoppers to consider a Toyota Prius

Second, Toyota has invested heavily in hydrogen vehicles for a long time now, partly thanks to the sizable hydrogen infrastructure in its home market in Japan. Toyota’s offered hydrogen-powered vehicles in the U.S. and in other locations, but only in very limited markets with nearby refilling stations. 

Toyoda even doubled down, saying a “silent majority” in the auto industry doesn’t believe EVs will be the answer for everyone, everywhere: “That silent majority is wondering whether EVs are really OK to have as a single option. But they think it’s the trend so they can’t speak out loudly,” he told reporters. 

It’s not especially surprising, considering multiple automakers have expressed concerns about going all-electric too fast. Although companies such as Tesla, Polestar, and Rivian have had all-electric fleets since the beginning, other established makers such as General Motors, Honda, and Volkswagen have said their fleets won’t switch to all-electric for a decade or longer—if at all. 

Among automakers, Toyota may be the most vocal about its opposition to switching to all EVs that, again, isn’t all that surprising. But it does ring a little hollow, considering the automaker has actively pushed behind the scenes to lobby lawmakers for federal incentives that would apply to hybrid- and hydrogen-powered vehicles they make as they lag competitors in EV offerings.

While Toyoda’s comments may not speak to a groundswell of support for hydrogen or hybrids, they do represent a larger theme that should emerge in the years to come: There won’t be a single answer for a planet-sized problem like climate change. 

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