Toyota “has been the laggard” on electrifying its U.S. lineup, but is now “fully committed,” White House senior advisor John Podesta said in an interview with Reuters published Tuesday.
Podesta said he met with senior officials from the automaker, including chief scientist Gill Pratt, who is one of the executives who even around the time of Toyota’s CEO change continued to hold the line on broadened hybrid deployment as being the better option.
Podesta told Reuters that Toyota may “stick with plug-in hybrids for a while, maybe longer than some of the other companies,” before taking the next step to EVs. That would be at least partially in line with the strategy previously discussed by Pratt, which would see Toyota cultivate multiple technologies for reducing emissions for the time being.
Toyota hasn’t yet revealed any greater detail about stepped-up EV targets. The automaker’s last comprehensive summary of electrification goals for the U.S. expects that 85% of new vehicles will have tailpipes in 2030—with battery electric and fuel cell vehicles together making up just 15% by then.
That forecast may put Toyota behind the curve. EV sales have already cracked 15% of the market in California, in 2022 and have already broken 5% nationally. California plans to end sales of new gasoline and diesel cars, except for some very efficient plug-in hybrids, by 2035.
EVs aren’t mandated by the Biden administration’s proposed EPA tailpipe emissions rules for 2027-2032, the next period for which new rules need to be drafted, but they may require about 67% EV sales by the 2032 model year. Former Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda just last fall called a target of 50% EVs by 2030 “very difficult,” although by then some brands aim to be fully electric in the market, if not globally.
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