Toyota Boss Admits: ‘Silent Majority’ Question Promoting Electric Vehicles as Single Option

'Because the right answer is still unclear, we shouldn’t limit ourselves to just one option,' president of Toyota Motor Corp. Akio Toyoda said.

Image Credits: BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images.

People in the automotive industry have serious concerns about putting all their eggs in the EV basket, the president of Toyota Motor Corp. has revealed.

Speaking to reporters in Thailand Sunday, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said the concerns are widespread among the industry’s “silent majority,” but that most won’t speak up for fears of upsetting the global trend.

“People involved in the auto industry are largely a silent majority,” he said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“That silent majority is wondering whether EVs are really OK to have as a single option. But they think it’s the trend so they can’t speak out loudly.”

Despite concerns over the EV technology still in its infancy, companies like Ford, GM and Honda are all in on trying to pursue EV options, with many claiming they will phase out gas vehicles in the near future.

Meanwhile, Toyota has diversified its fleet via hybrid options that incorporate batteries and gas engines, as well as hydrogen-powered solutions, as “EVs remain expensive and charging infrastructure is still being built out in many parts of the world,” the Journal notes.

“Because the right answer is still unclear, we shouldn’t limit ourselves to just one option,” Mr. Toyoda said of the company’s offerings.

Hybrid vehicles represent realistic, attainable goals that are “more effective than setting targets for EVs that will either be met or fallen short of in the future,” Toyoda says.

“It’s about doing what can be done now.”

Toyota, meanwhile, is still making significant investments in EV technology, with the company saying it will spend up to $35 billion to manufacture millions of EVs by 2030, even though US consumers may not immediately be part of that market.

While EVs may be popular on the east and west coasts, Ryan Gremore, an Illinois-based car dealer, says the interest in the vehicles doesn’t consitute a significant market share.

“Is there interest in electric vehicles? Yes. Is it more than 10% to 15% of our customer base? No way,” Gremore said.

Toyota design chief Simon Humphries pointed out a huge shift in consumer sentiment would have to occur in order to increase EV vehicle sales, saying, “We will have to change the way of customer thinking. Then, perhaps, we can achieve the sorts of numbers that are being talked about.”

Mr. Toyoda previously cautioned in Dec. 2020 against shifting too hastily into EVs, warning, “the current business model of the car industry is going to collapse.”

If consumers were more informed about what’s involved in procuring the toxic rare-earth minerals required to build EV batteries, in addition to the coal fired power plants still required to produce the power for EV charging – making it far from clean energy – many potential EV buyers might stick to their gas powered vehicles.