Toyota Unbowed as EV Sales Crater

Tom Finnerty21 Mar, 2024 4 Min Read
Toyoda said sayonara, but he's been right all along.

Over the years, we've had occasion to comment on the ups and downs of perhaps the only sane executive in the motor vehicle industry, Toyota Motor Corporation's now-former CEO Akio Toyoda. Sane because, as the rest of his industry is desperate to win Woke points by going all-in on E.V.s, Toyoda has been politely, but firmly, suggesting that maybe they should start pumping the breaks. We described his position in a post last year:

Toyoda [is] concern[ed] that it [is] unrealistic to expect the entire industry to electrify in the timeframe that governments and activists (but we repeat ourselves) have demanded, not least because of the cost of updating infrastructure — in Japan alone he estimated that it would cost somewhere between $135 billion to $358 billion to build up the required infrastructure to support an fully EV fleet. And then there's the fact that switching to EVs doesn't change how electricity is generated. As Toyoda said at the time, "most of the country’s electricity is generated by burning coal and natural gas, anyway." So the politicians mandating a change are ensuring that, ultimately, our vehicles will all be coal powered. Consequently, according to Toyoda, "The more EVs we build, the worse carbon dioxide gets."

Consequently, Toyoda insisted that his company invest in several different technologies -- including E.V.s, hybrids, hydrogen powered cars, and high-efficiency internal combustion engine (I.C.E.) vehicles -- and follow the ones with which they had the most success, not to mention those which most appealed to the marketplace.

Hybrids work better.

This position was so eminently sensible that, of course, it got him canned. Or, technically, "promoted" from C.E.O. to chairman, a position in which he would have much less influence over the direction of the company. And it was no secret that his ouster was about E.V.s. Here's how the New York Times reported on the switch -- "Toyota Makes a Change at the Top as a Toyoda Steps Aside: Akio Toyoda, who has been reluctant to embrace all-electric vehicles, will be succeeded as C.E.O. by a Lexus executive."

Furthermore, daring to question the accepted narrative has enraged the activists in the industry. Over at the Capital Matters blog, Andrew Stuttaford collects some of the pearl-clutching commentary on Toyoda and, by association his company. This includes Electrek magazine putting Toyota on their list of the “most negative and influential companies on climate policy;” industry writer Jameson Dow complaining that Toyota "currently sells no [“pure” E.V.s] in the United States" because they think they know "better than governments, the public, and companies that actually produce EVs;” and Fredricka Klaren, the "head of sustainability" at Swedish E.V. maker Polestar, responding with exasperation to a question about Toyoda by declaring, “It’s not possible. We cannot continue using fossil fuels.”

There's an especial irony, however, in this final critique. Stuttaford points to this Daily Telegraph report about how Polestar, once considered an up-and-comer in the industry, "has struggled to keep up with premium rivals such as Tesla and which remains heavily loss-making despite its cars receiving critical acclaim." Their latest problem is that their parent company, Volvo, has given up on them, and is desperate to offload the 48 percent stake they have in the company, with the most likely buyer to be Chinese automaker Geely.

And they're not the only company to find themselves in hot-water over the increasingly apparent E.V. swoon. The rental car company Hertz just booted their own C.E.O. after the company massively over-invested in an E.V. fleet (which their actual customers didn't want), leading to their having to sell 20,000 used E.V.s at a loss. Ford and General Motors, probably in the hopes they can avoid similar fates, have quietly begun to pivot from E.V.s to hybrids.

Still waiting....

And Toyota? Despite their public attempt to distance their company from their former C.E.O.'s heterodoxies, his investment focus -- especially on hybrid technology -- has led to the company making money hand over fist. According to the Wall Street Journal, "Toyota... forecast a record $30.3 billion net profit for the fiscal year ending March.... The results sent Toyota shares up 4.8 percent in Tokyo to close at a record high." And this despite E.V.s accounting for less than one percent of their total sales.

It's worth noting that the WSJ report closes with a reference to Akio Toyoda himself, voicing once again his unpopular belief (in the industry) that E.V.s will never be a truly market-dominant force. Speaking to business leaders earlier this year, he said that he projects E.V.s "to reach at most a 30 percent market share." Of course, since the whole E.V. economic model, and the government mandates, are built on the assumption of a total, or near-total, transition over the next decade or so, even 30 percent of the market would be an absolute disaster that would most likely bring the entire E.V. edifice crumbling down.

With all the money that's been pumped into keeping them afloat, that's somewhat hard to imagine. But, with his track record thus far, at this point it'd be foolish to bet against Akio Toyoda.

Tom Finnerty writes from New England and Ontario.


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One comment on “Toyota Unbowed as EV Sales Crater”

  1. Since there is no plan to build out electricity generation or grid distribution as necessary to power even a 30% switch to EV's, it is quite clear that what is really going on is the old eco-leftist dream of ending the personal automobile. First they make us switch EVs, then they don't let us charge them.

    Everybody does understand this right? That if we don't build out the necessary electricity generation and grid infrastructure then charging capacity will be limited to a very modest percent of current vehicle traffic? So where is the build out? There is none. Zero. Absolutely nothing is even in the beginning stages of planning. The only plan is for More shutting down of existing nuclear and fossil electricity generation. Even Hydro is on the cutting block.

    This isn't hard to figure out people. Whether the Eco-communists actually think ending personal transportation is necessary to save the planet or not, is perfectly obvious at this is in fact their plan.

    CO2 is actually the very best thing for the environment. It is the beginning of the food chain for all life on earth, and is still at semi starvation levels. Neither is its very small warming effect anything but a completely unambiguous net positive. The warming of the planet since the bottom of the little ice age (350 years so far), was not caused by CO2, it was mostly caused by the high average level of solar magnetic activity over this period (an average sunspot number of about 80).

    The previous 400 years of cooling, from the late 1200s to the late 1600s, Had an average sunspot number of about 40. Do people today even know that in 1975, before the global warming scare started, the leading theory of climate change is that it is driven by solar magnetic activity?

    That theory is a much better fit to the observed temperature record then the supposed "consensus" theory that "CO2 is the main control knob." That theory has no explanation whatsoever for the planets descent into and emergence out of the little Ice Age.

    So why does this "consensus" around the weaker theory exist? Because the funding system that Al Gore set up in his eight years as Bill Clinton's "climate czar" for distributing over $200b now for climate research, never gives another penny to anyone who says anything that does not support the anti-CO2 narrative. it is a 100% politically funded, bought and paid for, phony-consensus.

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