There’s no denying the fact that cars are a contributor to climate change. Even though I like the sound of an internal combustion engine (ICE) and the pleasure of a manual gearbox that can be attached to it, electric vehicles (EVs) seem to be replacing all of these.
But should it? At CTEK Philippines’ Let’s Talk Charging Virtual Media Event, panelists from the local automotive industry gathered to have a meaningful discussion about the future of the automobile. One such topic that was discussed was the need for vehicle charging to be unified rather than fragmented into various different charging ports and standards. This has been a problem for various markets around the world (the Philippines, included), wherein vehicles are not universally compatible across different charging infrastructures.
The other, however, is the fact that the automotive industry’s path shouldn’t just be towards electric vehicles. During the virtual event, Vince Socco, Chairman of GT Capital Auto Dealership Holdings, Inc. (GTCAD) whose parent company, GT Capital Holdings, Inc, is the majority owner of Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP), says that the path of the automotive industry should be towards carbon neutrality.
“There are different pathways towards carbon neutrality,” says Socco. “Once the government places its bet on a single technology or a single pathway, then it removes the flexibility as new technologies are coming on to the market. It is very important to have a playbook that allows you to embrace new technologies that will eventually be discovered or new innovations that are brought to the market.”
This is a statement that echoes what Toyota’s CEO, Akio Toyoda, says in achieving carbon neutrality. The executive has been known to be very vocal about politicians worldwide announcing bans towards the ICE and favoring EVs.
At a Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) press conference that was held last September 9, Toyoda-san says, “In pursuing carbon neutrality, carbon is our enemy, not the internal combustion engine. To reduce carbon, I believe there should be practical and sustainable solutions that fit the circumstances of each country and region.”
Akio Toyoda also urged Japanese leaders not to follow Europe’s path towards just EV adoption and instead opting for a multi-solution approach.
“The Japanese government has determined various targets, likely with the upcoming COP26 in mind, but first of all it is just targets that they show us, and second of all, the targets seem to be based on how policies are discussed in Europe, not on the particular situation in Japan.
That is why I would like to ask for your understanding that the paths to carbon neutrality differ in each country. Taking the renewable energy mix target as an example, no discussions on the cost have yet been shared with us, and we feel as if everything else is left up to private companies.”
Toyota is the pioneer of the hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) and the Corolla Altis Hybrid and Corolla Cross Hybrid are spearheading this form of electrified vehicle in the Philippines both in terms of price and sales numbers. Thanks to this approach, Toyota was able to help the entire Japanese auto industry reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 23 percent over the last 20 years.
The Japanese automaker is also a leader in the development of hydrogen vehicles in two forms: the Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) and a new technology wherein an internal combustion engine is capable of running on hydrogen fuel. The Toyota Mirai FCEV, now in its second generation, converts hydrogen fuel into electricity to power the vehicle.
The new hydrogen engine, on the other hand, is currently fitted inside a prototype Toyota Corolla hatchback and was last raced at the Super Taikyu 5-hour endurance race in Autopolis, Japan. The way this engine works is similar to the conventional gasoline or diesel internal combustion engine, but it runs on hydrogen instead.
Make no mistake, Toyota is still committed to electric vehicles. By 2025, there will be an electrified version of every vehicle in its lineup. Electrified means that the vehicle will arrive with various electrification forms such as HEV, full EV, or even FCEV. By 2030, the company forecasts that it will sell 5.5 million electrified vehicles in that year.
The Japanese automaker also recently unveiled a pre-production prototype of its first pure EV called the bZ4X, a crossover SUV with a long range thanks to its large battery pack, and is built on a platform that’s dedicated to EVs. The vehicle will also spawn a Subaru version called the Solterra.
Toyota is also innovating on how they manufacture vehicles in a sustainable manner. The company is aiming to meet its target of as much as 90 percent less CO2 emissions by 2050. Beyond 2050, Toyota aims to a positive contribution to the environment.