Toyota electric vehicles are arriving in the U.S. market in 2022.
While that itself stands as a surprise pivot for the brand, which was as recently as 2019 saying that there was essentially “no demand” for EVs at U.S. dealerships, hold your horses.
On Wednesday the company provided a better picture of exactly how committed to EVs it might be in the U.S. over the course of the 2020s. And it takes just a little math to understand that Toyota isn’t by any means all-in on EVs in America.
Globally, Toyota plans to cumulatively sell about eight million electrified vehicles by 2030, of which two million will be either battery electric models or hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. In 2020, the company sold roughly nine million vehicles globally.
2021 Toyota Mirai
In the U.S., Toyota says that electrified vehicles will make up 70% of sales by 2030, the majority of which will be hybrids. Battery electric models and fuel-cell vehicles, combined, will make up 15% of U.S. sales by 2030, according to the company.
From that, it’s interesting to note that even by 2030, Toyota sees models with an internal combustion engine under the hood making up 85% of its U.S. sales at the end of the decade—and that 30% of its U.S. lineup won’t have any form of electrification.
Meanwhile, under the California Advanced Clean Cars II framework proposed last week, CARB seeks an outcome of about 60% of new light vehicle sales being zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) of some sort in 2030. That includes an estimated 12% plug-in hybrids—and figures out to about 48% battery electric models.
2021 Toyota Mirai - Portland OR
Automakers have a bit of flexibility here—although they won’t be able to use plug-in hybrids to satisfy more than 20% of their ZEV obligations in any given year. Or, if Toyota continues its push of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in California, perhaps it will cover a small percentage of that EV piece with those.
Toyota’s underscoring the flexibility part. “Although some people believe concentrating resources on one possible solution will achieve the goal more quickly, we believe investing in many different solutions will actually be a faster way to achieve carbon neutrality around the world,” said Toyota Motor North America chief administrative officer Chris Reynolds in a release.
CARB ACC II: sales based on credits
Assuming there’s still a dual-tier system, with an EV mandate for California ZEV states—potentially about 40% of the U.S. market by then—but no requirement for the other national-framework states, Toyota’s 15% battery electric models nationwide might amount to 37.5% if it were focused entirely on the CARB states.
Bottom line: Toyota isn’t planning to build many more EVs than it’s required to for compliance. And if it truly sees only 15% of its lineup fully electric, states outside of the California-emissions bubble aren't going to see many Toyota EVs.
Toyota BZ4X concept - 2021 Shanghai auto show
We’ve reached out to Toyota for some clarity on where it plans to offer its fully electric models, led by a production model based on the Toyota bZ4X electric SUV arriving in 2022, and including a Lexus model based on the LF-Z concept, among other EVs coming soon.
Several automakers—including Ford and Volkswagen—have made comments that we’re already at a sort of tipping point for electric vehicles, and that EVs are worth pushing nationally, versus gasoline models. But Toyota clearly doesn’t believe we’re there yet. “The company’s approach seeks steady and substantial carbon reductions every year until the recharging infrastructure and costs of BEVs make them an attractive, affordable choice for all consumers everywhere,” it said.
The assurance from the brand, which has pushed back on mandates for EVs and challenged California rules as recently as last year, could be timed just right for the news cycle. The Biden administration is expected to lay out more particulars about a national program and more about $174 billion in EV-related infrastructure spending next week.