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The automaker doesn't see a market for EVs

Toyota doesn't see a market for electric vehicles (EVs), but it does see value in continued hybrid production and upcoming hydrogen fuel cell technology. 

According to The Wall Street Journal, Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada thinks EV batteries need at least two major breakthroughs before they can replace gasoline or hybrid vehicles. 

The reason why Toyota doesn’t introduce any major [all-electric product] is because we do not believe there is a market to accept it,” said Uchiyamada.

The exception to this statement is the Toyota RAV4 electric vehicle, which was built through a partnership with California startup Tesla Motors. The Toyota EV has a Tesla battery and motor, and in exchange, Tesla has access to Toyota parts. 

Toyota RAV4 EV

Many other automakers disagree with Toyota's view of EVs. Tesla, for starters, has seen strong sales of its electric Model S. The company has been very successful for an EV startup, having paid its full amount of $465 million in loans back to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) nine years early. 

General Motors (GM) sees the value of EVs too, as it races Tesla to offer a 200-mile affordable EV. Tesla said it is working on a new vehicle with the same range, which aims to be more affordable than the current Model S. 

Just last month, Volkswagen said it wants to lead the EV market by 2018 -- starting with the eGolf and eUp! 

Nissan -- maker of the popular all-electric Leaf -- is also upping its EV efforts by cutting purchase and lease prices of the Leaf and even offering free charging for a year to Leaf owners in Texas (and eventually other states). It appears to be working -- it sold a total of 14,123 Leafs through August. This is a huge leap from 2012's total sales of 9,819. 

While many other automakers are clearly jumping on the EV bandwagon, Toyota prefers to stick with its hybrids. It isn't concerned about being left behind the EV race whatsoever. 

"Some people say hybrid vehicles such as the Prius are only a bridge to the future," said Uchiyamada. "But we think it could be a long bridge and a very sturdy one. There are many more gains we can achieve with hybrids."

Toyota is focused on its next-generation Prius, which is expected to have better batteries with higher energy density. The company said it's using nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion where necessary and even upped its research on new battery technologies like solid state and lithium air as well as magnesium. The Prius will also feature smaller electric motors; thermal efficiency of the gasoline engine will be boosted from 38.5 percent in current models to 40 percent in the next-generation; the use of Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) will allow for a lower center of gravity and increased structural rigidity, and better aerodynamics will offer an all-new exterior design.

Back in August, Toyota revealed that it would release 15 new hybrids by 2015.

In addition, Toyota is bypassing EVs and betting on fuel cell technology, where hydrogen is ran through the fuel cell with only water as a byproduct. The company wants to release its first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in 2015. 

"I personally expect a lot from this hydrogen fuel cell technology," said Uchiyamada. "If government and industry work together, this might be part of the long-term solution."

Source: The Wall Street Journal





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