Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda: ‘Silent Majority’ Of Automakers Not Fully Sold On Electric Vehicles
TOKYO, JAPAN - OCTOBER 04: Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda speaks during a joint press conference with SoftBank Group Corp. on October 4, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan. Softbank and Toyota announced today their partnership to establish a joint venture for new mobility services.
Tomohiro Ohsumi / Getty Images

The head of the world’s largest automaker said this week that he remains skeptical of trying to move to only producing electric vehicles and that the majority of people who work in the auto industry agree with him.

Toyota Motor chief Akio Toyoda made the remarks while speaking to reporters during a visit to Thailand.

“People involved in the auto industry are largely a silent majority,” Toyoda said. “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.”

“Because the right answer is still unclear, we shouldn’t limit ourselves to just one option,” he added.

The remarks come as supply chain issues that were sparked by the coronavirus pandemic have continued to make it difficult for manufacturers to get the raw materials needed to make new cars, especially electric vehicles.

The Wall Street Journal reported that while some of Toyota’s rivals have jumped fully on board with electric vehicles — setting future dates at which point their companies would only produce electric vehicles — Toyota has diversified its future product offerings and is focused on making traditional gas cars, hybrids, and hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Jack Hollis, Executive Vice President of Sales at Toyota Motor North America, said earlier this year that the company does not believe that the demand for electric vehicles is as high as people think it is.

“I don’t think the market is ready. I don’t think the infrastructure is ready,” he said. “And even if you were ready to purchase one, and if you could afford it … (the price is) still too high … It took 25 years to get to less than 10% (market share) for hybrid … The consumer isn’t demanding (EVs) at that level. The consumer is not screaming, ‘30% or 40% by tomorrow.’”

With looming negative economic conditions in the U.S. on the horizon, combined with lowered gas prices, increasing interest rates, and high inflation rates, the market for electric vehicles could take even longer to expand.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also warned that the transition away from oil and gas is not as easy as people think and that society would be devastated overnight if it tried to stop using fossil fuels.

“At this time, we actually need more oil and gas, not less,” Musk said. “Realistically I think we need to use oil and gas in the short term, because otherwise civilization will crumble. One of the biggest challenges the world has ever faced is the transition to sustainable energy and to a sustainable economy. That will take some decades to complete.”

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