Toyota’s new CEO, Koji Sato, believes hydrogen is the way forward when it comes to carbon neutrality. While virtually every other automaker on the planet is focusing solely on battery electric vehicles, Sato reckons hydrogen will be the backbone of the Japanese marque’s future.
Speaking at an endurance race on March 18, Sato gave an outline of what he aims to do when he takes over as Toyota CEO in 2 weeks time. He mentioned the importance of exploring non-BEV solutions (via Automotive News):
“We want to ensure that hydrogen stays a viable option. We need a production and transport supply chain. Unless we see evolution there, we cannot expect a volume increase in the energy’s use.”
However, Sato is not discounting BEVs. He believes they will also play a crucial role in Toyota’s future alongside hybrid and hydrogen vehicles:
“We are making full-fledged efforts on everything. It is important to remain flexible in order to tailor products and energies to different carbon neutral needs in different markets.”
Toyota’s sole hydrogen offering, the Mirai, has been a mixed success so far. In the US, the Mirai is exclusively sold in California as no other state has the required fueling infrastructure. Revised for 2020, the second-gen Mirai is a sleek sedan – not a retrofitted Prius like the original model. It also now starts at $50,595 (it used to be closer to $60k) and has a range of up to 402 miles. Still, only 2,094 Mirais were sold in the US in 2022.
Meanwhile, Toyota only has one battery electric vehicle on sale in America, the bZ4X. The brand actually has a substantial BEV range in China, including the $27k bZ3. However, Americans have to make do with the bZ4X, a $42,000 crossover that’s range and technology struggle to match rivals like the Tesla Model Y.