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Toyota Tiptoes Timidly Into The World Of EVs

Toyota says it will have two new battery electric cars and one new plug-in hybrid car on sale in America in 2021 — or maybe 2022?

It’s almost painful to watch Toyota’s approach to the manufacture of electric cars. Its pace is so slow and deliberate, like watching a chef trying to figure out how to pick up a hot pan without a potholder. While Volkswagen, Mercedes, Volvo, GM, Ford, Hyundai, and Kia are all trumpeting their plans to invest billions of dollars to build new factories and bring dozens of new battery electric car models to showrooms, Toyota continues to dribble out a headline or two about an electric car — either a plug-in hybrid or a battery electric — that just might be available for people to actually buy sometime this decade, God willing and the creek don’t rise.

Toyota electric SUV

Toyota electric SUV concept. Image credit: Toyota

Yesterday, our colleagues at two well-known electric car sites (We won’t name them. Let’s just call then Team E and Team GCR) reported that Toyota will introduced two battery electric cars and a new plug-in hybrid to America this year. That got out correspondent Loren McDonald’s finely tuned antennae wriggling, so he reached out to Toyota to learn more. Toyota spokesperson Bob Carter offered this clarification. “The mentioned vehicles will be showcased sometime this year.” Note the word “showcased.” Carter said the BEVs would be on the market “sometime in 2022,” which could be up to 22 months from now.

The Toyota announcement this week also contained some rather curious language saying Toyota’s research indicates a “currently available” PHEV and a BEV have about the same environmental benefits, considering the source of electricity for America’s electrical grid today. That statement is pure, unadulterated horse puckey (or codswallop if you prefer). It sounds as though Team Toyota has been lapping up the lies spread by the fossil fuel industry about how electric cars aren’t as clean as they purport to be because a lot of electricity comes from burning coal and we all know that coal creates lots and lots of carbon emissions (along with tons of other nasty stuff that is poisonous to all living things.) Note this is the same company that shamelessly refers to its hybrid cars as “self charging electrics.”

We don’t know everything here at CleanTechnica, but we do know there are two kinds of plug-in hybrids — those that use a gasoline engine to recharge the battery only, like the Chevy Volt, and those that use a gasoline engine to help propel the car directly, like most everybody else’s PHEV products. Transport & Environment recently reported PHEVs in Europe actually spew out more carbon emissions than most conventional cars. T&E suggests they are basically a scam designed to fool regulators.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Union of Concerned Scientists debunked the “electric cars use dirty coal myth” back in 2015. That’s 6 years ago, Toyota! You should be ashamed of yourself for continuing to spread such falsehoods today. To make matters worse, UCS updated its study in 2020 to show that as the grid gets greener, the advantage electric cars have over conventional cars — including plug-in hybrids that use the onboard engine to power the car — gets larger. There is no excuse for a major corporation like Toyota to continue disparaging battery electric cars so it can continue to foist its conventional (and highly profitable) cars off on the world for another decade or two. Doing so is simply unconscionable.

Reportedly, one of those new EVs coming in 2022 will be an electric SUV that will be shared with Subaru. The other may be an electric sedan, says Green Car Reports. Both will be built on the new e-TNGA electric car platform that will be the basis for all battery electrics from Toyota for the foreseeable future. The new PHEV will join the Prius Prime and RAV4 Prime as the third plug-in hybrid from Toyota for sale in North America.

Toyota apparently believes customers don’t care about character and will put up with being misled and fed false information forever. It’s long past time for the company to put its shoulder to the wheel and put every ounce of its energy into moving the EV revolution forward as quickly as possible. That it refuses to do means there will never be a new Toyota in my driveway. What you choose to do is entirely up to you.

Images courtesy Toyota

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Written By

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?


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