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Toyota’s pressure on the Japanese government to support the hybrid against the electric car is uncovered

akio toyoda presidente ceo toyota

Toyota’s difficult relationship with electric cars has been exposed once again when the pressure made on the Japanese government itself to continue supporting hybrid cars was made public.

In an exclusive Reutersit has become known that during a meeting on June 3, a change in the annual economic policy roadmap was urged at the expense of a conversation between one of the legislators and the president of Toyota. If before this modification, the document mentioned that Japan’s goal for 2035 was for all new car sales to be “electrically powered vehicles”, they are now referred to as “so-called electric vehicles” and it is specifically cited in the main text that such vehicles include hybrids.

Akira Amari, a former industry minister and longtime member of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), requested the change saying he had spoken with AkioToyoda a day earlier, according to notes and audio reviewed by Reuters.

This is how the Japanese automaker lobby works

Toyoda is chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) lobby and chairman of Toyota. “Yesterday I spoke with President Toyoda and he said that JAMA can’t support a government that rejects hybridsAmari said. He added, “If we don’t say that hybrids are included in the category of electric vehicles, that won’t look good,” adding that the reference to electric vehicles should be changed to “so-called electric vehicles.”

Amari confirmed to Reuters that he asked for the “assumptions” to be included to make it clear that electric vehicles were not limited to battery electric vehicles and included hybrids. He said that he did not ask for any other changes.

Conceptual image with some of Toyota’s future purely electric models

Amari himself confirmed that he had spoken to Toyoda: “What Mr. Toyoda is trying to say is that hybrids that run on synthetic fuels are good for the environment because they are extremely fuel efficient. He said that he would be extremely dissatisfied if hybrids were rejected. That’s what he told me. He asked me if the PLD was rejecting hybrids and I told him that we were not doing such a thing».

The bet against the world’s largest manufacturer

This year is being especially convulsive for Toyota regarding their electrification plans, which are weighed down by the sales success of their hybrid cars, the tastes of the Japanese market, the dominance of a combustion engine that they do not want to give up and little confidence in the market taking off of purely electric cars.

Until now, the criticism has been from external groups such as environmentalists, who demand the use of new technologies to carry out an immediate transition, or from experts on climate and energy such as InfluenceMap. From their platform they denounce Toyota’s hypocrisy in launching positive public messages about climate change, while consistently opposes regulatory efforts to increase stringency in emissions standards and fuel policy for vehicles in various regions of the world.

However, the Toyota’s lukewarm stance towards electric cars is starting to be challenged from within. Its own investors, including major Danish pension fund AkademikerPension ($20bn in assets), Swedish pension fund AP7 ($120bn) and the Church of England (holds $300m worth of shares in the manufacturer)they make the manufacturer ugly with its lobbying position against the full adoption of electric cars as a way to cut carbon emissions. In the specific case of AkademiKerPension from Denmark, it sold most of its stake in Toyota during the last year.

Toyota bZ4X is Toyota’s purely electric proposal that will soon arrive in Europe

For its part, Toyota, at the recent annual meeting of shareholders, defended its role in reducing carbon emissions, and highlighted the benefits of developing various technologies such as hybrid, biofuels and fuel cells to offer various options to the customer and not limit its proposal only to pure electric.

Last year, the company allocated an investment of 60 billion dollars for the electrification program of its range of vehicles. Half of the budget will be allocated to the development of pure electric. Last month the manufacturer put its first electric vehicle, the Toyota bZ4X, on the Japanese market, although only through leasing. Despite some problems in its launch, we will be waiting for the public’s response to know if it is a success or not, and how it can define the future attitude of the brand towards electric cars.

Font Reuters