With Nissan pushing full steam into electric cars, and General Motors making a big splash with its plug-in hybrid, Hiroko Tabuchi at the New York Times wonders, what happened to Toyota? Where is its electric car?
Toyota’s execs tell Tabuchi “The time is not here,” for electric cars.
They’re right, the time is not here, not now. In three years though? It looks more and more likely that it will be.
So why isn’t Toyota plowing all its PR muscle resources into electric cars? Tabuchi says:
- Batteries aren’t ready.
- Toyota doesn’t want to churn out some crap electric that tarnishes the brand.
- Electric cars are going to be expensive, with low margins.
- Have you noticed the $4.4 billion loss from last year? Maybe not the best time to burn a billion dollars on an electric project.
- Is the mass market ready for an electric car? Probably not.
- Hydrogen! Toyota is developing a better alternative car technology.
It looks like Toyota is betting against the electric revolution. This is a mistake because it means it’s betting against the United States (and German) government. Billions of dollars are flowing to electric cars for battery research, and infrastructure, while funding for hydrogen–Toyota’s preferred clean car technology–has been cut off.
It’s not the end of the world, though. Toyota is developing a plug-in hybrid Prius (although it’s going to be really weak compared to Nissan or Chevy). If the electric revolution really swings into gear, then Toyota will only be one step behind the leaders.
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