Another global automaker is joining the ranks of companies committing to electrification at a global scale. Toyota Motors, consistently among the world’s leading automakers, has just announced a commitment to expand its electrified model offerings.
The automaker plans to sell an electrified version of each of its models by 2025, with an additional 2030 goal of selling more than 5.5 million electrified vehicles, more than a million of which would produce zero emissions from their tailpipes. This latter distinction is important because Toyota’s commitment to electrified transportation includes a range of electrified options, from gasoline-powered hybrids to plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles as well as, of course, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. These two latter drivetrain options represent Toyota’s zero-emission vehicle sales goal options, suggesting that the remaining 4.5 million vehicles will be made of conventional (gasoline-powered) and plug-in hybrids, which may naturally play to the strengths of the creator of the iconic Prius. The company is also working with states and other businesses to expand the number of hydrogen fueling centers in California and the Northeast.
Toyota’s announcement joins other automaker commitments to electrification. Volvo received attention earlier this year as the first and only automaker to commit solely to electrification by phasing out vehicles powered exclusively by fossil fuels by 2019. Toyota’s commitment does not eliminate the production of vehicles powered only by gasoline, but the inclusion of an electrified option for every vehicle model greatly expands consumer choice. Other large automakers are also making significant commitments to electrification—in fact, each of the world’s five largest automakers (by sales, as of mid-2016) has made significant, multi-billion dollar commitments to electrification. Volkswagen, the world’s largest automaker in 2016, has made a similar pledge to produce an EV version of each of its models by 2030. GM has stated its commitment to an “all-electric future” and plans to offer at least 20 EV models by 2023. Ford plans to release 13 new EV models within the next five years as part of a $4.5 billion investment in electrification. And Renault-Nissan, the first mass market automaker to produce an all-electric vehicle (the Leaf / Zoe), plans for half of its vehicles to be electrified by 2022.
It’s heartening to see these corporate commitments to low-carbon vehicle offerings, particularly as automakers collectively push back by seeking greater flexibility with federal greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards. As battery prices fall and automakers expand their vehicle offerings, consumers will encounter more affordable and versatile low-carbon transportation options. The scale of major automaker commitments to EVs should incentivize dealerships to improve the consumer experience, which has often been characterized to-date as lackluster due to lack of inventory or technological expertise. Automakers should also benefit from enhanced EV sales, helping to meet ZEV sales requirements in California and nine other states, as well EV sales requirements in China beginning in 2019. And gasoline-powered hybrids will help automakers meet federal and international vehicle greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards. The key ingredient across the board will be increased choice, more affordable model options, and greater availability of charging infrastructure to stimulate even greater consumer demand for low-carbon vehicles.
Other companies are also joining the movement by purchasing the vehicles and installing the infrastructure needed to facilitate a transition to electrification.
Toyota’s recent commitment is only the latest of a growing number of collective corporate efforts that are crucial to electrifying the transportation sector. By using efficient electrified motors and engines and shifting greenhouse gas emissions from tailpipes to an electric grid that is reducing greenhouse gas emissions, these companies are working toward a deep decarbonization of the economy. U.S. electric sector emissions have fallen by more than 20 percent since 2000. At the same time, electricity prices have remained relatively stable in real dollars. The electric sector is providing cleaner, affordable energy, and businesses are helping facilitate the adoption of electrified transportation by improving technologies and consumer options that can make use of a cleaner grid.