I don’t like to single out individuals who I think are not living up to moral ideals, but in my role as a cleantech media professional, I recently called out Bertel Schmitt for his consistently deceptive (and slickly so) articles about Tesla Motors. The aim was not to shame Mr. B.S. — I don’t have any hope that would work. The aim was to warn readers that the former Volkswagen PR man is quite adept at making any normal human believe something that is actually incorrect, or in the best of cases, misleading.
Nonetheless, the man does have a lot of industry connections and was able to collect and share some interesting quotes from a top Toyota executive this week, which seemed worthy of covering here.
Given my experience reading Bertel’s work over the past few years, I’m inclined not to rely on any of the paraphrasing or non-quoted commentary. (I’d be wise to take my own advice, right?) But here were some interesting lines from Kouji Toyoshima, Chief Engineer of Toyota’s Prius line:
- “We are using the EV-like plug-in-hybrid as a step to using more electricity in the future.”
- “In electric mode, the [new Prius Plug-In] now provides the performance and joy of driving of an EV.”
- The new plug-in Prius “looks more like the Mirai” on the outside, compared to a normal Prius, presumably.
- “Appearance-wise, it was not possible to tell the difference from the regular Prius. The electric mode range was too short, 26.4 km (16.4 miles) according to the Japanese cycle. In wintertime, the gasoline engine kicked in rather quickly.”
- “Us and our competitors will move to using much more carbon neutral energy…. Toyota might even produce bicycles.”
On the outset, it appears Toyota is coming around on what I would say is the fact that battery-electric cars will dominate the market in the future. It may not be bringing a long-range fully electric car to market in the next couple of years, but it is moving in that direction and treating the next plug-in Prius much more like the battery-based car it should be, bringing out the benefits of driving electric to a greater degree. That means bringing the torquey fun of EVs to more people, and allowing people to do their city driving (at least) on smooth, quiet, and clean electric motors. It seems Toyota is also keen to sell EVs on their sporty characteristics more.
Still, it’s not a clear sign Toyota is secretly going full blast into electrification, and mentioning bicycles is cool, but I think everyone knows Toyota’s not about to become a major player in the bicycle market, so a bit of fear remains that Toyota is still treating this segment as a PR campaign.
Edit: I just ran across and published for this article this segment of my cleantech and climate standup attempt (part of our ongoing Cleantech Revolution Tour):