Electric is inevitable. Toyota must stop stalling.

By East Peterson-Trujillo

Last fall, I wrote about Toyota’s troubling electric vehicle track record. The biggest global automaker has fought rules to clean up car emissions around the globe and has yet to commit to phasing out internal combustion engine vehicles, which pollute our communities and our planet.

Bad news: Toyota has spent the past few months digging itself a deeper grave:

  1. CEO Akio Toyoda visited the U.S. in September to claim that EVs “are just going to take longer than the media would like us to believe,” – despite the fact that one third of Americans plan on or are seriously considering buying EVs. In fact, a November 2022 analysis shows that current Toyota drivers are among the most likely to buy electric options from Tesla, Ford, Hyundai, and Chevy.
  2. In November, two new reports reinforced Toyota’s role as a climate villain:
    • The company was ranked the worst auto-maker for climate policy for the 2nd year running by InfluenceMap
    • Greenpeace Germany revealed Toyota remains on track to produce 63 million more diesel and petrol vehicles than is feasible to keep global heating under 1.5°C
  3. Instead of debuting new zero-emission vehicles, Toyota unveiled a new Prius to an underwhelming response. One article called it “the best CD player in a download world.”

As Toyota actively subverts efforts around the world to make cars less polluting, Public Citizen members and supporters have called on the company to stop stalling and commit to making only EVs by 2030 in the U.S. and Europe, and 2035 globally.

At the NASCAR Championship Cup–an event that Toyota sponsors–we flew a banner reading, “Want exciting? Drive electric. Want boring? Drive Toyota.”

Phoenix Raceway in Avondale, Arizona, on November 6, 2022.

In response, Toyota told Forbes that it has a “comprehensive powertrain strategy” – meaning the company won’t take any cars out of its lineup.

Partner organizations joined us in writing to CEO Akio Toyoda demanding a swift transition to zero-emission vehicles only. 

During Toyotathon, Public Citizen launched a spoof campaign called “ToyotaYawn and our supporters generated thousands of emails and phone calls to executives. 

Join us and make your voice heard on this critical issue. Add your name to our petition.

A refresher on Toyota’s past

How did Toyota go from being one of the most environmentally friendly automakers (the first to mass-produce a hybrid) to one of the worst companies for the climate? And why?

  • Toyota lobbied to weaken greenhouse gas standards for vehicles and opposed EV requirements in the U.S., U.K., India, and more.
  • Toyota cheated on emissions testing and was fined a record $180 million in 2021 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for violating clean air regulations. 
  • Toyota debuted its first electric vehicle in the U.S. in 2022, but quickly recalled it because the wheels were falling off. It is now back on the market but with very limited availability.
  • In 2022, Toyota threatened to cease manufacturing cars in the U.K. if the country wouldn’t water down its strong clean car rules, which would end diesel sales by 2030 and hybrid sales by 2035. Toyota only backed off after a newspaper exposed the threat.

Toyota’s opposition is extensive–and misaligned with the public, our health, and a safe climate. 

Sign the petition now: Toyota, put EVs in the fast lane.

The Future is Electric

We need a complete transition to electric vehicles—and a revamp of our transportation systems—to end our reliance on polluting, dangerous fossil fuels.

With no tailpipe emissions, electric vehicles are far less polluting than those with internal combustion engines. The most recent reporting shows the average EV produces vastly lower emissions than a gasoline vehicle—and that’s with current manufacturing methods, which advocates are working to clean up.

EVs are inevitable. Toyota should devote its energy to catching up and staying competitive, not trying to block progress.

Tell Toyota: shift gears. Commit to our future, to electric vehicles, now.