Toyota Motor Europe CEO Didier Leroy this week reiterated the message emanating from the top that plug-in hybrids make more sense than pure electric, and hydrogen fuel cells will prove even more promising not long from now.
This word came from Paris Motor Show and follows a talk given in Japan by the “father of the Prius,” Takeshi Uchiyamada, that battery powered cars starting with Toyota’s tiny iQ EV have too many downsides to be worthwhile.
“We have seen that customers are not yet willing to compromise on range and they don’t like the time needed to re-charge the batteries,” said Leroy. “So even if we are ready with our production version of the iQ EV we think a plug-in hybrid solution offers a better way than pure
electric for most customers needs.”
Toyota is nonetheless showing the iQ EV at Paris having gone to so much trouble as to build it only to sideline it, but it is also showing its growing bread-and-butter Hybrid Synergy line, and talking up vehicles like the pending FCV-R hydrogen fuel cell concept unveiled last year in Tokyo.
While he said EVs are “full of uncertainty,” fuel cell vehicles were portrayed as “the ultimate eco car.”
“Our fuel cell car will emit no harmful emissions at all and will have a driving range of around 700 kms (435 miles).”
It’s not as though Toyota cannot see what Nissan is doing with its Leaf, it’s more that it does not want to sign onto growing a small effort it believes will be supplanted by fuel cells in a few years anyway.
In the meantime, Toyota knows its hybrids are top sellers, believes 10-15 miles electric range offered by its plug-in Prius is “the best of both worlds” and enough for 70 percent of Europeans.
Leroy said Toyota is content to keep majoring on these kinds of transportation solutions, and let the EV market be developed by others.
“We believe it is much better to sell larger numbers of accessible low emission cars than very few with zero emissions,” Leroy said.