A“silent majority” of car companies is concerned that electric vehicles will not alone be able to end reliance on fossil fuels, according to a senior Toyota executive.
Akio Toyoda, the company’s president and grandson of its founder Kiichiro Toyoda, said that many concerned senior figures are reluctant to say what they really think because of the pressure to go green.
It comes as the industry struggles to ditch petrol and diesel, in the face of materials shortages and complex processes that have kept the cost of building electric cars high.
In comments on a visit to Thailand first reported by the Wall Street Journal, Mr Toyoda said: “People involved in the auto industry are largely a silent majority.
“That silent majority is wondering whether EVs [electric vehicles] are really OK to have as a single option. But they think it’s the trend so they can’t speak out loudly.”
The comments came weeks after Toyota launched six new electric models in a sign which appeared to indicate it had shifted away from a previous bet on hydrogen as the green fuel of the future.
Rival carmakers have set timetables to end fossil fuel car production, with General Motors and Honda planning a full switch to battery powered cars. Meanwhile Tesla has enjoyed exponential sales growth in a sign of consumer enthusiasm.
But the slow growth of lithium production and other potential bottlenecks such as the supply of rare earth metals, which are largely found in China, could price some buyers out of electric vehicles.
Toyota has long backed the hybrid technology found in its Prius model and hydrogen as other options to cut carbon dioxide emissions.
Mr Toyoda said: “Because the right answer is still unclear, we shouldn’t limit ourselves to just one option.”