One Automaker That’s Making Sense

It seems like Toyota is catching some flak lately. Why?

While many automakers have committed billions of dollars in recent years to develop all-electric vehicles, Toyota has approached the technology with far more caution – opting instead to continue investing in a portfolio of hybrid “electrified” vehicles, such as the Prius.

Remember the Prius? It was a hybrid vehicle Toyota launched in the US some 20-plus years ago. (It was rolled out in Japan in 1997.) Back in the day, it was one of the cleanest and most fuel-efficient cars on the market. Over the years it would sell millions of units. 

Some might say that Toyota was on the forefront of carbon-reducing technology at the time. Apparently they’re not any more.

…while the Japanese automaker was a darling of US environmentalists and ‘eco-conscious’ consumers when the Prius came out two decades ago, given that it was among the cleanest and most fuel-efficient vehicles ever produced – Toyota has fallen out of favor with the ‘green’ crowd thanks to its hesitancy to jump into the fray with fully electric vehicles.

“The fact is: a hybrid today is not green technology. The Prius hybrid runs on a pollution-emitting combustion engine found in any gas-powered car,” said Katherine García, director of the Sierra Club’s Clean Transportation for All campaign, in a recent blog post.

Ouch!

Still, you have to give them points for being honest. And halfway smart…

Toyota execs say the strategy is appropriate given the lack of EV-supporting infrastructure around the world, as well as the high cost of the vehicles.

Vehicle Virtue Signaling

Way back in 2021, I wrote about the auto industry’s big green lie.

In that article I laid out some pretty bold promises that were being made by automakers around the world.

“Rolls-Royce, the British manufacturer of very large and very expensive cars and SUVs powered by 12-cylinder engines, announced Wednesday that it will stop selling gasoline powered vehicles by 2030. From then on, Rolls-Royce will be all electric.”

And…

“Subaru claims that hybrid- and pure electric-powered models will represent at least 40 percent of its annual global production by 2030, with all hybrids discontinued within another half decade or so.”

And… 

“German luxury carmaker Audi said Tuesday it will stop manufacturing diesel and petrol cars by 2033 as part of an industry-wide pivot towards more environmentally friendly electric cars.”

And while the promises in the headlines were bold, they were also pretty much empty.

At bottom, automakers are businesses. While shifting the fleets they build to electric is one thing, selling them into a market that can afford and support (i.e. charge) them is entirely another. The promises they made were based on a lot of… expectations. 

And today, the big green expectations that will charge all these EVs looks further away. 

Gas Isn’t Going Away

Last week, I wrote my paid subscribers that, despite the hand wringing, fear mongering and virtue signaling about the need for an accelerated push toward green energy, significant investment in fossil fuels has quietly continued over the past several years.

This is the big money hedge you don’t hear about in the media — that now, and for the foreseeable future, the green dream will remain just a dream.

Fossil fuels aren’t dead. In fact, double down on them or nuclear and we can generate all the electricity we need. Then everyone can have an EV.

But for now, Toyota seems to be taking the sensible approach.

Make the trend your friend,

Bob Byrne
Editor, Streetlight Daily