Despite the fact that Toyota brought the award-winning Toyota Prius hybrid to the market to much acclaim, the company is still intent on jumping beyond electric vehicles, with plans to introduce fuel cell powered vehicles in 2015. The company has sold over 5 million hybrids worldwide which are having a major impact upon the environment, but why does the company still refuse to consider wholly electric vehicles?
There are some in the industry who believe this could be a masterstroke or it could be a major error in the life and times of Toyota. This is a company which has always been at the forefront of new development in the industry and has tended to read the industry quite well but some believe this current self-serving policy in favour of hybrids could backfire.
Could Toyota be right?
The fact is that billions upon billions of dollars have already poured into the electric vehicle industry and, while great progress has been made, we are not yet anywhere near the mass market. Current estimates suggest that 2017 could be a major year for the electric vehicle industry with the likes of Tesla planning to introduce an affordable EV with 200 mile journey capacity. Historically, if you look back at the EV industry we will see an array of false dawns, false hopes and collapses.
Quote from ElectricForum.com : "The Prius has grown into a "family" of vehicles. The Prius is now called the "Prius Liftback" and the smaller Prius c and larger Prius v have been added. The Prius Liftback also has a Plug-in version available in limited markets."
In all honesty it seems unlikely that the EV industry will disappear this time round, as we have governments, companies and consumers backing the sector, but never say never!
Is it too late to change?
In public it seems that Toyota is looking towards fuel cell technology as opposed to electric vehicles from 2015 onwards. However, do not discount a potential U-turn in this policy because if the electric vehicle industry continues to go from strength to strength then Toyota will need an EV portfolio to maintain customer confidence going forward and support sales.
Of all the major car manufacturers in the world it seems as though Toyota is very much on its own with regards to its lack of enthusiasm towards the electric vehicle industry. Many automatically assumed that success with hybrid vehicles, and there have been many by Toyota, would inevitably lead to a fully electric powered vehicle in a relatively short space of time. At this moment in time this seems very unlikely but ultimately the market will dictate future policy not only for Toyota but for all vehicle manufacturers.
It is interesting that Toyota is still sticking to the official line that electric vehicles do not offer enough capacity or efficiencies to make a lock, stock, and barrel change in policy. The company has been very successful in hybrids, and will no doubt continue to be so, but has it missed the electric vehicle boat?
We could look back in 10 years time, if the EV industry fails again, and smile at Toyota's reluctance to move towards electric vehicles but at this moment in time this seems unlikely.