Toyota Chairman and former CEO Akio Toyoda believes battery-electric vehicles will have a maximum market share of 30%, with the rest taken up by hybrids, hydrogen fuel cells, and ICE cars.
“With a billion people in the world living without electricity, limiting their choices and ability to travel by making expensive cars isn’t the answer,” the grandson of the company’s founder said during a business event this month. He added that customers should make that decision, not regulations or politics.
No laggard, but a pioneer
The world’s biggest carmaker has recently reacted against criticism of falling behind in the transition to electrified vehicles, saying that its pioneering hybrid drivetrains, hydrogen technology, and holistic approach will ultimately be the right approach for the business, customers, and the environment.
Earlier this month, Akio Toyoda announced an initiative to develop new combustion engines. “Engines will surely remain,” Toyoda was quoted as saying. It wasn’t clear whether the Chairman’s remarks referred to new car sales or those already on the road.
Touted for years by the grandson of the company founder, the ‘multi-pathway approach’ argues that customers should be able to choose whatever powertrain fits their needs and that the EV shift won’t happen as quickly as many think.
According to BloombergNEF’s forecast, EVs will account for 75% of new car sales and 44% of passenger vehicles on the road by 2040. This forecast completely contradicts the view of the Toyota Chairman on the evolution of the automotive world.
When Koji Sato took over last year as the new CEO of the world’s number-one car manufacturer, he promised Toyota would sell 1,5 million battery EVs a year by 2026 and 3,5 million by 2030. No doubt, there are two remarkably different opinions inside the company’s top management on how the car market will evolve in the coming decades.
As a typical large-scale Japanese company, Toyota Motor Corp. is a very prudent actor. The key to its success in becoming the world’s number one is undoubtedly its pioneering role in developing hybrid cars and selling them in amounts no other manufacturer could ever think of.
Being the leader in a particular technology can make a company vulnerable when technology moves on for whatever reasons. Toyota will always stay prudent, and it is entirely right that the EV boom we saw in China, Europe, and (partly) North America won’t happen as quickly in other regions of the world.
The fact that Toyota is one of the most important brands in developing countries as regards mobility undoubtedly contributes to this reluctance to embrace EVs fully. The new CEO, Koji Sato, is trying to find the golden mean in this challenging question, but as we see it now, the Japanese company will never be the leader in electrification.
Toyota Europe sales record
Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Europe posted an all-time sales record of 1 173 419 vehicles in 2023, up +9% year-on-year, resulting in a market share of 6,7%. “It’s TME’s highest-ever sales result and reflects the increasing success of TME’s multi-path strategy,” says the press release.
During this period, sales of electrified vehicles increased by +14% and now account for 70% of total volume in Europe. Toyota remained the second best-selling passenger car brand across the region.
Toyota sold 1 099 782 passenger cars and commercial vehicles in 2023, an increase of 7% year-on-year. The brand’s top sellers were the Yaris and Corolla ranges, Toyota C-HR, Aygo X, and RAV4, representing 76% of total brand sales.
Total sales of Toyota’s electrified models reached 755 005, an increase of 11% year-on-year, accounting for 70% of total volume.
Lexus experienced rapid growth in 2023, selling a total of 73 637 vehicles, an increase of +46% year-on-year. Its electrified sales mix accounted for 87% of total sales and almost 100% in West Europe. Toyota Professional achieved a record 140 062 sales in 2023, an increase of 18% year-on-year.