Toyota's Late Leap into the EV Race: A Misstep or Calculated Delay?
In recent times, Toyota Australia has taken a stance that seems to go against the global trend of transitioning toward electric vehicles (EVs). At the launch of its first EV, the company stated that hybrids are currently a better fit for Australia, as they are more affordable and do not require charging infrastructure, branding them as "cars for the masses, not for the few." However, this statement raises eyebrows, especially when considering the competitive pricing of EVs like the BYD Dolphin, available for 39,000 AUD in Australia, and the success of Tesla's Model Y, which was the nation's top-selling SUV as of September this year.
The argument on the affordability of hybrids over EVs also seems less convincing when considering the maintenance and servicing needs of hybrid vehicles. Unlike EVs, hybrids have both an electric motor and an internal combustion engine, requiring more maintenance and higher costs over the vehicle's lifetime.
Moreover, Toyota's concern over the lack of charging infrastructure in Australia appears to be unfounded. A simple glance at PlugShare's charging map reveals a reasonably robust charging network already in place. Furthermore, homeowners have the luxury to charge their vehicles overnight, starting each day with a range of 400-600 km. Given that the average Australian driver covers about 33 km per day, the existing charging infrastructure coupled with home charging seems more than adequate.
Toyota's hesitancy towards fully embracing EVs comes off as a strategy to bide time until they can enter the market with a solid offering. Their projection to come out with new EV models by 2026 or 2027 hints at a concern over losing market share in the interim if Australians shift en masse to other readily available EVs. Yet, this delay places Toyota behind other automakers like Hyundai and the VW group, which are phasing out internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in Norway all together.
Toyota's first EV, the bZ4X, touted as the cornerstone of their electrification strategy, unfortunately, hasn't lived up to the hype, particularly with its performance in cold weather conditions where it reportedly lost over 50% of its range during winter testing in Norway. Such shortcomings raise legitimate concerns over Toyota's preparedness and competitiveness in the EV market.
Toyota's narrative that the time is only now ripe for their venture into EVs can be perceived as an attempt to curb the enthusiasm for EVs until they have a substantial offering. However, with competitors advancing and some even exiting the ICE vehicle market, Toyota's delayed entry could be a misstep that may cost them significantly in the fiercely competitive automotive industry. The dissonance between Toyota's cautious approach to EVs and the rapid advancements by other automakers paints a clownish picture of a giant automaker lagging in the global shift towards electric mobility.
In conclusion, Toyota's belated entry into the EV market appears to be a mix of a calculated delay and an underestimation of the rapid evolution of EV technology and infrastructure. The contrasting pace of other automakers and the expectations of the environmentally conscious consumer may leave Toyota playing a desperate game of catch-up in the burgeoning EV market.
Thanks for reading. Lars Strandridder, BestInTESLA
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