Conventional gas and diesel cars will decline over the next three decades, and hybrids, plug-in cars and fuel cell vehicles will inevitably take over.
This was the essence of statements by Senior Managing Officer Kiyotaka Ise who said the Japanese company foresees massive market shifts through the year 2050 at which time its sales of conventional cars will be close to nil.
Presently Toyota’s global sales of conventional vehicles is around 86 percent, with hybrids and some plug-in vehicles comprising 14 percent. Faced with rising alternative technology, environmental needs, and emissions regulations, Ise said Toyota will need to change far more comprehensively.
“It wouldn’t be easy for gasoline and diesel cars to survive,” said Ise to media in Tokyo. “With such massive decline in engine-powered cars, it’s like the world is turning upside down and Toyota has to change its ways.”
The executive focused sweeping statements primarily about his own company, and made only general predictions for the worldwide automobile industry, but it might not be a stretch to see implications for others as well.
Meanwhile, in just the next few years by 2020, Toyota plans to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 22 percent compared to the average of its fleet in 2010, reports the Wall Street Journal.
By 2050, the target is a 90-percent reduction.
Working with its strength in hybrids is how it will start, as it also aims for further fuel cell vehicles, Ise said.
The company has sold over 8 million hybrids since 1997, its first million took several years, but it is accelerating the pace. Ise said another 7 million hybrids are projected to be sold over the next five years.
Another forward-looking statement is Toyota predicts its 30,000th global fuel cell vehicle sale by around 2020. The automaker has said it will be slow, and this relatively low number is in keeping with that, but it says also the pace will quicken, and Toyota has invested billions and over two decades of research into this elusive technology.
Issues with FCVs and plug-in cars include infrastructure, costs, and consumer acceptance, but as water may wear away rock, so Toyota says it is determined to see FCVs through.
By 2050 when the internal combustion engine will be near extinct, except as used in hybrids, the actual breakout of FCVs, plug-ins and hybrids Ise did specify.
The reality is it is a worldwide industry shakeout, with automakers working with countless variables.
There is a feeling of inevitability in some quarters of this shift, but to date most profits are booked by sales of conventionally less-efficient vehicles, including trucks and SUVs.
Assuming it comes to pass, it will be a profound change in the coming years, and what we have today could appear like just a small, but not insignificant drop in the bucket.