Toyota is not bullish on EVs. That comes from the company's North American CEO, Jim Lentz, who said the company will focus not on electrification, but on continued hybridization with a long-term focus on hydrogen fuel cells.
Lentz questioned the long-range ability of EVs, saying that Toyota feels "there are better alternatives, such as hybrids and plug-in hybrids, and tomorrow with fuel cells." Lentz spoke about Toyota's focus on hydrogen following Forbes Brainstorm Green conference and barely a week after a battery deal between Tesla and Toyota ended, according to Automotive News.
That deal provided for 2,500 battery packs for the Rav4 EV. While valuable to Toyota, the deal "was never about open-ended volume," Lentz said. "It was time to either continue or stop. My personal feeling was that I would rather invest my dollars in fuel cell development than in another 2,500 EVs."
Freed of its venture with Tesla, hydrogen now appears to be in Toyota's focus. According to AN, Toyota is starting in California, offering a $7-million loan to a company called FirstElement Fuel to develop hydrogen fueling infrastructure in the Golden State. Automotive News cites a study by Toyota that claims 68 refueling stations located across the state would provide for 10,000 HFC owners. California is already planning on having 50 stations by the end of 2016.
"My hope is that other automakers will see our investment and will invest as well, so hopefully we can accelerate to 70 [stations] before 2018," Lentz said. "Unlike hybrids when we were on our own, all the major players will be out there with us in fuel cells."