The world’s most popular carmaker has fired a first shot in the ongoing debate about the limits on vehicle emissions in the wake of a Toyota director saying electric vehicles aren’t capable of replacing all cars, and a call to make that happen might leave a lot of drivers in the dust.
The comments, by the sales manager of the automaker Sean Hanley, come less than two weeks since the federal government unveiled its national electric vehicle strategy and an open consultation on the energy efficiency norm.
However, environmental and electric vehicle groups argue that the company’s statements must reflect the current vehicle technology and Toyota’s lack of progress in launching electric cars.
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Toyota is the most dominant company in the Australian automobile market and produced more than 230,000 cars in 2022, more than double the amount of its closest rival.
Hanley said that the brand was adamantly supporting the government’s commitment to a fuel-efficiency standard that will reduce vehicle emissions and promote the import of more low-emission vehicles.
He said, however, that pollution from vehicles should be reduced solely by electric cars is “simplistic” and would leave sure motorists with no substitutes.
“It is too early,” Hanley stated. “What battery-electric vehicle can we find for sale within Australia that can pull 2.5 tonnes in 600 km? We don’t. It’s impossible to exist.
“If we just move to only zero-emission vehicles, what are you going to tell the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Australians who tow caravans, who use their cars for work, who need their cars on the land, who need their cars in the mine, who need more than a 200 or 300km range?”
However, despite his comments, Hanley stated that Toyota is “not against battery electric vehicle technology” and was planning to launch its vehicle in Australia by the year’s close.
But he also said that hybrid cars could be a feasible technology at the moment, and Toyota would push for a standard with ample timeframes that reduce emissions without limiting the choices of vehicles.
“We’ve spoken to the government and I think we have represented the silent voices of hundreds of thousands of Australians consumers who use their cars for leisure, towing, and lots of other activities,” He said.
“I recognize that some lobbyists have claimed we’ve tried to halt, stop the electrification process from moving forward, but that’s not the case. We’ve just presented the truth of the market and the market realities.”
However, the electric vehicle council’s executive director Behyad Jafari, claimed that the EV technology was demonstrated in other countries and was increasing in popularity in Australia with increasing sales and sell-outs, despite insufficient availability.
“When we hear those arguments, what we need to pay close attention to is the economic interest of the car company,” Jafari declared.
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“Some businesses haven’t spent time developing electric vehicles and they don’t have a firm enough grasp on the issues.”
Greenpeace activist Lindsay Soutar said Australians would not accept arguments for lower standards on vehicle pollution or delaying actions.
“Toyota has stalled on pure electric cars, opting to promote hybrid and fuel-cell technologies that will lock customers into paying for fossil fuels for decades to come,” she added.
“Pushing for petrol cars in 2023, in the middle of a climate and cost-of-living crisis, is laughable and Australians won’t be convinced.”