Toyota BEV Move Because ‘Consumers Now Ready’

Toyota believes European customers are now ready for BEVs and that’s why it has finally moved into the sector.

However, speaking to TU-Automotive at FISITA Plus 2019 in London, Timothy D’Herde, general manager of Toyota Motor Europe’s powertrain division, said the automaker also believes powertrains will continue to diversify.

Toyota has long been focused on electrification through hybrid technology rather than batteries but has relented saying last month it would launch ten BEVs in China in the next two or three years. D’Herde expanded on this, saying that these BEVs will also come to Europe “in the early 2020s”.

“As part of our electrified diversification, we will launch battery electric vehicles. We’ve announced we will have several models launched in China, where there is a strong push for BEVs, but also in Europe, within the early 2020s we will have ten different models,” said D’Herde.

“The customer needs to be ready to accept these vehicles, and in the past we’ve seen with our electrified vehicles that the customers were not ready. Hybrid electric vehicles are now more than 50% of Toyota’s sales in Europe, so we now believe that customers are ready to accept battery electric vehicles as well.”

However, Toyota’s main goal is still electric diversification across many different powertrain options. “Toyota is in a strong position, as we offer conventional combustion engines, to hybrid electric, to plug-in hybrid, soon we’ll have the BEVs, and even hydrogen fuel cell. There’s something in there for everyone to decarbonize the fleet – there’s an answer in the Toyota line-up for all needs,” said D’Herde.

The reason for launching initially in China is simple, according to D’Herde: “Their government is strongly pushing battery electric vehicles, with incentives from the government. Incentives are very important to reduce the high cost of battery electric vehicles to the customer, making them a more affordable option, meaning the market there is ready for BEVs.”

Finally, D’Herde said that “Toyota believes very strongly in high-voltage electrification. Yes there’s 48 volts, of course we’re looking into that, but from a mainstream point of view, we believe in efficiency and the electrification comes from high voltage, which is why we believe very strongly in our Toyota Hybrid System for our electrified vehicles.”

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