While most automakers are making noise about going full electric a.s.a.p., Toyota's more measured approach considers that it may not be easy for the entire world to transition out of ICE vehicles so swiftly. They may be right. Even so, earlier this year Toyota President Akio Toyoda was criticized in the press for appearing hesitant to embrace all-electric. This morning Toyota set the record straight with a press conference.
The issues are more complicated than Electric good, gas bad. Toyoda began the announcement by agreeing that "we need to reduce CO2 emissions as much as possible, as soon as possible," but pointed out that "We are living in a diversified world and in an era in which it is hard to predict the future. Therefore, it is difficult to make everyone happy with a one-size-fits-all option. That is why Toyota wants to prepare as many options as possible for our customers around the world."
"We believe that all electrified vehicles can be divided into two categories, depending on the energy that they use. One category is that of 'carbon-reducing vehicles.' If the energy that powers vehicles is not clean, the use of an electrified vehicle, no matter what type it might be, would not result in zero CO2 emissions.
"The other category is that of 'carbon-neutral vehicles.' Vehicles in this category run on clean energy and achieve zero CO2 emissions in the whole process of their use.
"We at Toyota will do our utmost to realize such vehicles. Today, we would like to present to you what we have been preparing for the future."
To assuage any doubts, Toyoda then pulled the sheets off of not one, but fifteen electric concept vehicles spread across both the Toyota and Lexus brands.
bZ ("beyond Zero") line-up
"We will not only add battery EV options to existing vehicle models but will also offer a full lineup of reasonably priced mass-production models, such as the bZ series, to meet the needs of all kinds of customers."
bZ Small Crossover
bZ Compact SUV
bZ Large SUV
Lexus BEV line-up
"Lexus aims to realize a full lineup of battery EVs in all vehicle segments by 2030 and to have battery EVs account for 100 percent of its vehicle sales in Europe, North America, and China, totaling 1 million units globally. And it aims for battery EVs to make up 100 percent of its global vehicles sales in 2035."
Lexus Electrified Sport
Lexus Electrified Sedan
Lexus Electrified SUV
Toyota Lifestyle BEV line-up
Following the Lexus unveils, these "Lifestyle" EV concept cars were revealed, but most did not yet have proper model designations and details were scant.
For the most part, their target markets are easy enough to guess by their shapes, and some have obvious predecessors (the Tacoma and FJ Cruiser clones, for instance, had minor changes).
Compact Cruiser EV
Micro Box and Mid Box
My guess is that Toyota wanted to close out 2021 with a bang, and I expect we won't be hearing details about these models in earnest until next year. (In particular, I'm well curious to see how the Micro Box and Mid Box develop.) I also found it telling that only Lexus has a hard all-electric date; Toyota's apparently guessing that developing nations will still need gas-powered cars for the foreseeable future, given infrastructure issues, and again I think they may be right (however unpopular the thought of it).