(p. B2) Mr. Toyoda, Toyota’s chief, has been one of the industry’s most prominent voices of caution about EVs. He has questioned whether the vehicles are as environmentally friendly as advertised and expressed doubt that consumers want them.
Toyota has said it believes hybrids can reduce carbon emissions while the battery supply chains and charging networks necessary to support big fleets of EVs are built globally over the coming decades. Hybrid cars—which made up nearly 30% of Toyota and Lexus global shipments for the most recent quarter—are helping the auto maker meet tightening emissions rules in markets like Europe.
Demand for hybrids also helped Toyota reach a record operating profit of ¥3 trillion, equivalent to $21 billion, for the fiscal year ended in March. Its stock price on the Tokyo Stock Exchange has held up reasonably well, down 9% this year, while other auto makers have suffered steeper declines.
Mr. Toyoda has been trying to understand why some investors and environmental groups remain unconvinced about the company’s electrification strategy.
. . .
People at Toyota said company executives have been advised by public-relations specialists and others in the company to dial back negative comments about EVs and instead highlight their benefits as well as Toyota’s extensive investments in the technology.
Sage Advisory Services, an investment management firm in Austin, Texas, that holds Toyota bonds, said it has sensed a shift in rhetoric.
Sage Advisory had approached the car maker last year with concerns about its EV stance, to which Toyota responded with its usual arguments, including about hybrid cars, said Sage Vice President Emma Harper. She said the points made sense to her but were hard for the general public to grasp.
More recently, she said, Toyota has “flipped over and they’ve felt the change in the tide and how consumers and politicians and other stakeholders are feeling about the transition away from fossil-fuel cars.”
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(Note: the online version of the story has the date September 25, 2022, and has the title “Toyota Softens Toward Critics of Its EV Push.” Where the versions differ, the quotes above follow the more detailed online version.)