Toyota’s Approach to Environmentally Appropriate Vehicles

By Gary S. Vasilash

There is an on-going criticism of Toyota that it is behind other OEMs when it comes to electric vehicles.

Which is true if the companies in comparison are Ford and GM.

At present, Toyota has one full battery electric vehicle, the bZ4X. It also has one hydrogen-powered electric vehicle—generally referred to as a “fuel cell electric vehicle” or “FCEV”—the Mirai.

At present there are no Lexus electric vehicles, battery or otherwise.

The EPA has recently published “The 2022 EPA Automotive Trends Report.” It examines greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy.

In the report it shows that from 2016 to 2021, the miles per gallon for the aggregate of vehicles produced by the following companies are:

  • Ford:                      22.8 to 22.9 mpg
  • GM:                       22.4 to 21.6 mpg
  • Stellantis:               21.5 to 21.3 mpg

In other words, Ford improved by 0.1 mpg while GM and Stellantis both went in the wrong direction.

Similarly, the CO2 measures are:

  • Ford:                       389 to 385 grams per mile
  • GM:                        397 to 414 grams per mile
  • Stellantis:               413 to 417 grams per mile

In the case of CO2 measures, less is better. Ford got a bit better. The other two didn’t.

Stellantis presently has no full battery electric vehicles. It does have plug-in hybrid (PHEV) versions of the Pacifica, Wrangler and Grand Cherokee.

Ford has battery electrics. The F-150 Lightning, the Mustang Mach-E and the E-Transit. It also has hybrid versions of the Escape, Maverick, F-150, and Explorer. Lincoln offers hybrid versions of the Aviator and the Corsair but no battery electrics.

GM has the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV, Cadillac LYRIQ and HUMMER EV battery electric vehicles at present and no hybrids.

So how does Toyota measure on the EPA metrics?

  • Toyota:                    25.0 to 27.1 mpg

and

  • Toyota:                    355 to 327 grams per mile

Or simply put, in the aggregate, the vehicles that the company put out in the market between 2016 and 2021 are, from an environmental standpoint, better than the vehicles from the other three manufacturers.

And it is worth noting that in 2021 Toyota, with sales of 2.3-million vehicles, was the top manufacturer in the U.S. GM sold 2.2 million, Ford 1.9 million and Stellantis 1.8 million.

It didn’t have the bZ4X last year, so that doesn’t count in its numbers. It did have the Mirai, but the number of those it sells could pretty much fit in the parking lot of a large stadium.

But what it does have are the Prius and Venza and hybrid versions of the Corolla, Camry, Avalon, Sienna, Highlander, Sequoia, RAV4, Tundra, and Lexus ES, UX, NX, RX, LS, and LC.

It could be argued that those vehicles contributed a lot to the “greener” performance of Toyota compared with Ford, GM and Stellantis.

It could also be argued that especially compared with Ford and GM Toyota is some sort of Luddite when it comes to green powertrain technology. . .yet the EPA figures don’t indicate that what it is putting on the road is in any way behind the curve.

On this edition of “Autoline After Hours” we are joined by Jordan Choby, vice president of Powertrain Control at Toyota Motor North America R&D. He joins us from the Toyota Gardena, California campus where fuel cell development is occurring.

Choby explains that, yes, Toyota is working on battery electric vehicles and it plans to have 30% of its global volume be electric vehicles by 2030, but that the company is operating on model that is providing consumer choice regarding the type of engine or motor that is under the hood of their vehicle.

Choby talks with “Autoline’s” John McElory, Tom Murphy of Autoweek, and me.

And you can see the show here.

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