It’s no secret that Toyota is taking a cautious approach to EV adoption. As one of the largest purveyors of hybrid cars and a big proponent of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, the company hasn’t committed to an all-EV future. This has led to a lot of debate within the industry as to whether or not Toyota is anti-EV, or if it just has a different outlook on the industry.
Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda has long said that the company is instead taking a “multi-pathway” approach for its future, which, unlike some other automakers, means that it won’t exclusively focus its efforts on building battery-electric vehicles. Toyota’s Australia has further clarified the company’s stance, saying it’s all about market practicality.
Australia, like the rest of the world, is looking to move towards an electrified future. But diesel-powered vehicles make up a sizeable chunk of sales in the country every single year. The top three selling vehicles in 2023 were all diesel-powered utes: the Ford Ranger, Toyota HiLux, and Isuzu D-Max. It might not make sense for Toyota (or any automaker, for that matter) to go all-in with electric vehicles in a market that demands diesel.
Sean Hanley, Toyota Australia VP of Sales and Marketing, takes this stance. In a recent interview with Cars Guide Australia, Hanley helps to clarify how Toyota plans to approach its future sales in the country:
I’m excited because it sends a clear message that you know what? Toyota’s not anti-EV. We’re actually not. And we want to play in that market. We want to be part of it. We’re excited by it. We just don’t see it as the golden bullet or the single golden bullet towards carbon neutrality. The multi-pathway is still our strategy, but we’re excited to be coming into the BEV market. We know it plays a role.
Hanley says that the market is what determines the future of vehicle capabilities, not car companies. His statement concludes that consumers will buy what works for them. It’s up to the automaker to build regulatory requirements, like a reduced carbon footprint, into a package that works for the consumer.
“It’s incumbent on manufacturers to bring a vehicle with capability that can deliver and that will be desirable. That’s our job. And you know what? We have a social and community responsibility to do that. And that’s why we talk about Fuel Emission Standards and multi-pathway,” says Hanley.
“Some interpret it as Toyota being anti-BEV. No, we’re not. We are just being real. We’re being honest with the market and the position.”
Toyota’s answer is true, at least to an extent. It is in Toyota’s best interest to respond to market wants and needs. In America, for example, that might be by loading up the streets with the hottest new crossover. But for Australia, that means diesel-powered utes.
Now, should regulation change, that’s a different story. Automakers will still need to respond to certain packaging needs, but the powertrains may shift to meet local emission regulations. In Australia, that’s a very real possibility, especially as fuel economy regulations have been swirling as a hot topic over the past several years. But until that happens, consumers can expect Toyota to keep hedging its bets.