Tesla Model S 85D, 2015 Detroit Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
Toyota's public attack on electric cars shows no signs of letting up.
Its first sallies were two ads from its Lexus luxury brand slamming electric cars for range anxiety.
Now, a Toyota executive has all but sneered at Tesla Motors for putting "all its eggs in one basket" by making only battery-electric cars.
Toyota's senior vice president for U.S. operations, Bob Carter, apparently made the comments ad hoc during a presentation last week at the J.D. Power Automotive Summit in San Francisco.
Bob Carter, senior vice president, U.S. operations, Toyota Motor Sales USAEnlarge Photo
The comments were reported by industry trade journal Ward's Auto.
The criticism of Tesla Motors does not appear in the published version of Carter's speech released to the media.
The long-tenured Toyota executive covered a wide array of topics during his talk.
He noted that the struggling Scion youth brand was about to receive new products, and that Toyota intended to sell more SUVs and trucks to cash in on growing market demand.
But when the topic turned to the 2016 Toyota Mirai, Carter said that Toyota's first production hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle had so far received 1,600 orders in Japan during the first month it could be ordered..
That's four times the projection Toyota had made, although it's worth noting that more than half of those orders were from government agencies and fleets, not retail buyers.
In the U.S., meanwhile, Toyota has now logged 16,000 "hand-raisers," or consumers who have signed up to learn more about the Mirai--which will go on sale during the second half of this year
With regard to electric-car maker Tesla, however, Carter said he had been "disappointed" in comments by CEO Elon Musk that hydrogen-powered cars should be called "fool-cell vehicles."
Perhaps stung by the attention paid to every pronouncement and tweet made by the high-visibility Musk, Carter attributed the comments to what might be viewed as insecurity on Tesla's part about the future of plug-in electric vehicles.
2016 Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell car, Newport Beach, CA, Nov 2014Enlarge Photo
“If I had all my eggs in one basket," Ward's reports him saying, "I might be making the same comments.”
In his published remarks, which did not contain the Tesla criticism, Carter also said of the fuel-cell car: "In reality, Mirai IS an electric vehicle. But the electricity is produced onboard… versus off the grid."
And, he added, " In other words… the Toyota Fuel Cell System in the new Mirai… is simply… a better battery."
Toyota remains one of the most profitable global automakers.
Meanwhile, Musk recently said during a Q&A following the Detroit Auto Show that Tesla might not be profitable until 2020 when assessing its performance using conventional Globally Accepted Accounting Standards, or GAAP.
Tesla has reported profits by using a variation of those standards, a subject of much debate among stock analysts and electric-car advocates.