Toyota Will Not Pivot to Electric-Only Powertrains

Dashing the hopes of many BEV zealots’ over the change of CEO at Toyota, the automaker’s new chief says it will not be making a radical pivot away from ICE-hybrid powertrains.

While incoming CEO Koji Sato outlined plans to ramp up BEV offerings by focusing on its Lexus luxury brand, the company will not deviate from a strategic long-held agnostic approach to powertrain technologies. Reuters reports that the comments from Sato, who takes over as the head of the world largest automaker from April, come as the Toyota has pushed back against critics that have said it has been too slow to embrace BEVs.

Toyota, which spearheaded the hybrid technology in both premium and mass-market products, has said many times that hybrids make better sense for most motorist, especially in markets where the infrastructure is not ready to support batteries. It has also championed hydrogen-powered cars as a future solution.

Despite announcing an acceleration of BEV products focused on the Lexus brand, Sato was also quick to point out that this did not constitute a sea change in strategy and that Toyota would continue to focus on pursuing a number of different technologies in its drive towards carbon-neutral vehicles. “This is not a fast pivot towards battery EVs,” he said, adding that much of the problem stemmed from one of “communication” about Toyota’s strategy. “To the point that we have been slow at battery EV projects, I think around half of it is a communication issue,” he said.

He said the company was sticking to a previous goal of selling 3.5 million BEVs by 2030. An engineer by training, Sato started his career at Toyota in 1992 before rising through the ranks to become chief engineer of Lexus International in 2016. While he oversaw the creation of Lexus’s first fully electric model, he has previously spoken of keeping open other options for powering vehicles.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


  1. Avatar Jerry Roane 14th February 2023 @ 6:36 pm

    The class action lawsuits for polluting our children will be breathtaking. Toyota will be going to all electric no matter what this dolt believes in his black heart next to his black lungs. There is no reason for cars to pollute today. Taking this position is foolish trying to protect sunk investment in tooling to make overly complex ICE machinery.

    • TU-Editor TU-Editor 15th February 2023 @ 9:51 am

      Jerry, I remember writing about the rise of the diesel powertrain for passenger cars in the 1990s and highlighting the experience of Tokyo of 20 years earlier. Simply put, diesel may be bad for the health of city dwellers but its lower CO2 is better for the health of the planet and that’s the balance industry has to make. So, Toyota will be heartened that its agnostic approach to powertrain technology has been supported by none other than that vehicle pollution champion, Emissions Analytics which calls for a stop on ICE bans and warns against believing the skewed messages promoted by zealots and self-interested parties:

  2. Avatar Fernando 17th March 2023 @ 12:05 pm

    Great. A wise decision. Let the market and consumers decide among different solutions while reducing emissions.

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