Toyota Cuts Carbon Emissions by Not Selling Electric Vehicles

Graphic of a power cord covered in grass.

Toyota’s vice president of research and development offered what could be considered a reasonable rationale this week as to why the Japanese automaker has yet to produce any electric vehicles.

Environmental impact is at the core of the explanation. The company only has the capacity to produce enough batteries every year for either 28,000 electric vehicles or 1.5 million gasoline-electric hybrid cars, Gerald Killmann said at the 2019 Geneva auto show.

Toyota chooses to use the batteries to produce hybrids because selling 1.5 million hybrids instead of 28,000 electric vehicles slashes carbon emissions by a third more, according to Killmann. 

Although it’s not clear how the company came up with the carbon emissions calculations, it’s refreshing to see Toyota taking a thoughtful approach to rolling out electric vehicles.

Killmann’s justification could just be a convenient cover story as to why the company has failed to assemble any electric vehicles for purchase. But even if it is, Toyota is still investing heavily to ramp up its battery capacity. Toyota and Panasonic announced a partnership in late January to focus on the development and production of next-generation automotive batteries.

The company is still targeting its goal of producing 10 electric vehicle models by the early 2020s.

Another reason why it’s clever the company is holding off introducing electric vehicles is because the US doesn’t have the charging infrastructure in place yet for mass adoption of electric vehicles. Consumers won’t want to purchase electric vehicles if they have limited charging options.

Toyota is taking a calculated approach to rolling out electric vehicles in its lineup and it’ll be interesting to see over the next decade whether the company’s position pays off.