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Toyota's Hollis, (left), and J.D. Power's Betts on stage at J.D. Power’s Auto Summit.

Toyota Explains Why It Hasn’t Joined BEV Craze

Plug-in, fuel cells, hybrids, and internal-combustion engines deserve longer looks, says Toyota's Hollis and J.D. Power's Betts.

DALLAS — Toyota executive Jack Hollis is not a hard-core battery-electric-vehicle foe.

Neither is Doug Betts, president of J.D. Power’s automotive division and a former auto executive.

But both men seemed surprised that many people in the auto industry and beyond are singularly devoted to an oncoming BEV age.

The pair expresses a degree of skepticism that the world needs a BEV takeover. That’s because they recognize alternatives, such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

Betts and Hollis, Toyota Motor North America’s executive vice president for -sales, appear on stage together for a session at the J.D. Power Auto Summit held in conjunction with the 2023 NADA Show.

 Some BEV advocates have criticized Toyota for not fully embracing pure electric vehicles as other automakers have. The Japanese automaker last year introduced a BEV concept vehicle, but it’s not in production.

Hollis says the criticism that Toyota is dragging its feet regarding BEVs is a bad rap.

“Toyota is 100% committed to (BEVs),” says Hollis. “We’re also 100% committed to plug-ins, fuel cells, hybrids and internal-combustion engines.”

He adds: “The goal is to reduce carbon emissions as fast as possible. It’s not to sell EVs.”

Toyota back in 1997 introduced the Prius hybrid with a powertrain that alternates between electric motors and a gasoline engine, Betts notes. “The Prius was invented before anyone else had the idea.”

He’s puzzled why more people aren’t all-in with plug-in electric hybrid vehicles. He thinks PHEVs offer the best of both worlds for most drivers.        

Hollis notes expensive materials such as lithium are used to create battery packs to power electrified cars. Burning coal to mine lithium releases significant amounts of carbon into the environment.

“You can take a small amount of lithium to build one BEV,” Hollis says. “Or you can use that amount to build several plug-ins. Or to build 109 Priuses.”

Still, he says Toyota ultimately will introduce a BEV, voicing faith that its dealership network will properly sell them and educate customers about them.

“Toyota is committed to that outcome, but it won’t be in 2023,” he says. “There seems to be a rush to do things.”

Betts says BEVs are a complicated subject and “a struggle,” with many questions about sufficient power sources and a charging station network. “A plug-in hybrid isn’t a struggle.”


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