The official Toyota position on green cars was stunningly consistent. Aside from the iconic Prius, the automaker bet heavily on fuel cell vehicles as the brand’s zero-emissions model of the future — despite “fool cell” taunts from a man named Musk. It was a hard line against battery electric vehicles, but the Japanese auto titan stuck to it. According to a report from Japan, Toyota’s script may soon flip with the arrival of a mass-market EV, and it could be the beginning of the end for fuel cells.
This remarkable twist, reported by Japanese newspaper Nikkei (via Reuters), had Toyota assembling a team early next year with the express mission of developing a long-range EV. Without naming sources, the Nikkei report went on to say the electric model would arrive at the end of this decade. Contacted by Reuters, Toyota maintained it was testing every efficient technology with the future in mind.
While this story lacks specific sources, you can see logic behind such a shift in the game plan. For starters, regulations in the U.S. and China may very well increase in the coming years. The situation could make the automaker vulnerable in the world’s top markets. Moving forward, the circumstances could force Toyota to step back from fuel cells and focus on technology that already exists. At least in the U.S. market, the big infrastructure plans involve EV chargers, not hydrogen stations.