Akio Toyoda Fields Questions on Carbon Neutrality from U.S. Reporters


President Akio Toyoda gave an interview for U.S. media amid the BEV shift being a hot topic worldwide. Here are some highlights from their hour-long conversation.

Q5: Are you revising BEV investment plans?

We are preparing [for the increased zero emission vehicle sales required in California and other states], but we also try to be constantly aware of what is a realistic pace. At every opportunity, we ask regulators to ensure getting the order right in pursuing carbon neutrality.

Speaking as JAMA Chairman at a press briefing in April 2021, Akio emphasized, “What Japan should do now is to widen the options of technologies. Regulation should come after. Don’t let this order be reversed.”

I think the starting point, just as it was for me, is to make sure that we truly have a correct understanding of carbon neutrality. Then the next step is to set our goals.

As I see it, establishing regulations should be the final step. It is unfortunate that regulation inevitably leads the way, restricting the options for potential solutions. Personally, I’m not sure whether this is really the way to make end-users happy.

The company takes various factors into account when making decisions. My own business model is to create from these a story to present, and then personally take action to bring others on board.

Responding to external changes—figuring out how to deal with inflation and regulations—is crucial for building an enduring company that remains relevant in the world.

We do our best to understand the needs of the other stakeholders who make up the automotive industry and set the pace accordingly.

Here in Las Vegas, I sought out a Target. Whenever I visit America on business, I always go to Whole Foods and In-N-Out Burger.

I think it’s important to see firsthand the faces of consumers, what they are buying, and the prices they’re paying, to correct your perceptions.

As the head of a company in the B-to-C business, I see this as an indispensable sensor.

Q6: What is the outlook for BEV adoption?

Currently, California’s regulations will ban the sale of internal combustion engines after 2035, while nationally BEVs [together with PHEVs and FCEVs] are to account for half of all new cars by 2030. In reality, I think this may be a tough ask.

There will certainly be more BEVs than now. We will keep a close eye on prices and the speed of infrastructure expansion, but under current conditions, 50% looks difficult to achieve.

In the U.S., many households own more than one car, and it is hard to imagine all of these becoming BEVs in the foreseeable future.

However, I think it is very realistic for one of the cars people own to be a BEV. As to what percentage that would comprise, I would like to carefully consider various viewpoints as we move forward.

Akio reiterated Toyota’s stance that BEVs are an important solution but not the only solution.

This view tends to get Toyota branded as anti-BEV, however, BEVs do form part of the company’s commitment in an age of diversity, as Akio has reiterated the importance of creating empathy, not conflict.

Akio also showed other glimpses of his personality and strong convictions throughout the interview, including the following closing comment.

If all of you come away with the impression that “this guy really loves cars,” today’s meeting will have been a great success. I hope this will serve as a starting point for us to work together to create the future of cars.

Working together to create the future, with a shared purpose and cars built with passion. Akio’s words shine a light on Toyota’s unique approach to tackling carbon neutrality.