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EVs or Obsolescence. Which will Toyota choose?

By East Peterson-Trujillo

A small plane carrying a big message flew over the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race outside of Phoenix on Sunday. In the skies above the event, a banner reading, “Want exciting? Drive electric. Want boring? Drive Toyota,” circled the crowd at the Phoenix Raceway.

This year, Public Citizen launched a campaign to push Toyota Motor Corporation, the world’s largest vehicle manufacturer, to adopt a strategy of building only electric vehicles by 2030 in the U.S. and Europe.  

Despite CEO Akio Toyoda’s decree that the company produce “no more boring cars,” Toyota has yet to bring more than one car suitable for the exciting and inevitable future of all-electric transportation to market. And Toyota’s one battery electric vehicle hit a hiccup when it recalled the car earlier this year due to a dangerous malfunction: its wheels kept falling off!

Toyota claims to be on the cutting edge. So we’re asking: why isn’t Toyota all-in on electric vehicles? 

I told Forbes, “[a]s the largest global auto manufacturer, Toyota has the ability to shift the worldwide market on EVs. Toyota is stuck in the past, betting the climate crisis, public health, and economic benefits won’t push consumers toward cleaner, cheaper EVs. Toyota must leave its boring, polluting vehicles in the rearview mirror.”

Producing electric vehicles isn’t just good for the planet, it’s good business: Over half of global car buyers plan to purchase an EV.

At the Phoenix Raceway, that’s just what our banner, and an accompanying billboard truck circling the parking lot of the race track, encouraged Toyota to do. In addition to our action at NASCAR’s final race of the season, Public Citizen, along with 16 other organizations, last week called on CEO Akio Toyoda to shift the company swiftly to EVs or risk obsolescence.

In the coming weeks and months, we’ll continue our campaign until Toyota understands that consumers, our health, and our planet all need 100% zero-emission vehicles. Just last week, independent think tank InfluenceMap ranked Toyota the global automaker with the most negative impact on climate policy—for the second year in a row.

In December, Public Citizen will lead a Week of Action during Toyotathon.

Sign our petition now to stay updated and to tell Toyota: we need EVs now, for our health and our climate.