They have probably been some of the most controversial statements in recent months in the automotive sector. Gill Pratt, Toyota’s chief scientist, told Automotive News: “Time is on our side. This shortage, not only of battery materials, but also of charging infrastructure, will make it abundantly clear that There is no single solution for everyone, and that the best answer is actually a mix of different types of vehicles.
When he spoke of there not being “a single solution”, Pratt directed his criticisms against those policies that aspire to impose the electric car over any other option. Although it does not literally say so in any regulation, in practice, the European Union has decided that its vehicles, in the future in the medium and long term, will be electric.
It is not just a question of banning the sale of vehicles powered by a combustion engine from 2035 (as long as they are not “carbon neutral”), in 2030, emissions should be reduced by 55% and the new Euro 7 regulations encourage vehicles to be highly electrified if they want to comply with the new limits. In fact, even the polluting emissions from the brakes will be monitored.
voices that rise
That of Toyota’s head of science is not the only voice that has been raised against the European Union on its way to impose the electric car in a period of time that some manufacturers consider extremely short. Akio Toyoda, the CEO of the Japanese manufacturer since 2009 who will leave the firm this April, has been one of the standard-bearers in his race against the electric car as a “single solution”.
Toyota’s movements in favor of the use of hydrogen, either as a fuel cell or by burning it in combustion engines, are good examples of the manufacturer’s interest in going carefully in the jump to electric cars.
These decisions contrary to the adoption of the electric car are not the only ones that we have been finding in recent months. Olivier Zipse, CEO of BMW, has made it clear that he is in the same vein as Toyoda. A year ago, the German firm’s top executive assured that “if you no longer sell combustion engines, someone will“.
The statements coincided with the confirmation by the brand that it will continue to develop six- and eight-cylinder combustion engines. “We will not force our customers to choose between the new and the supposedly old,” confirmed Frank Weber, a member of the BMW development board, in an interview conducted by Auto Motor und Sport.
“With the six-cylinder engine alone, we are further reducing the CO2 emissions with a change of generation”, stressed the BMW executive in a few days in which BMW’s announcements focused on the new BMW iX and i4.
Surprising statements in a context where most executives reserve their opinion on electric cars, according to Toyoda: “People involved in the automobile industry are largely a silent majority. That silent majority questions whether electric cars They’re really fine as a stand-alone option, but as they think is the trend, they can’t speak out loud.”
consumers will pay
The other great argument of the opponents of the battery-powered vehicle as the only option has been the cost for the customer looking for a new car.
“What has been decided is to impose electrification on the automotive industry that entails a 50% additional costs compared to a conventional vehicle. There is no way to transfer 50% of the additional costs to the final consumer because most of the middle class will not be able to pay them,” Carlos Tavares told Reuters at the end of 2021.
Something similar is what the new president of ACEA, Luca de Meo (also CEO of Renault), has assured, who has warned that if manufacturers pay 1,000 euros more in cost per vehicle, the driver will have to bear an additional cost of 2,000 euros .
Before that, Luca de Meo himself was already warning that the “cheap electric car” is at risk and that the industry begins to doubt this possibility. De Meo has not been the only one who has taken this line. At Volkswagen they consider it unrealizable that we can see an electric car for 20,000 euros in the short term. A price range in which the supposed “cheap Tesla” that Elon Musk has been promising for so long would also move.
The trend points to a standardization of the sector, with fewer and more expensive cars. Mercedes is in it, but also BMW, Volkswagen or Ford. That the electric car seems to make the average price of a new vehicle more expensive is becoming a reality. It is not clear what the future of the sector will be like, but it is clear that the latest decisions of the European Union have made the average price of new vehicles more expensive (and a lot).
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