Toyota expects hybrids, FCVs to dominate market by 2050
Toyota has reaffirmed its vision for a hybrid and hydrogen-powered future, predicting gasoline vehicles to be significantly marginalized in the next few decades.
The Japanese automaker intends to lead the trend, aiming for its 2050 fleet to be dominated by super-efficient or alternative powertrains to reduce emissions by 90 percent compared to 2010 figures.
“You may think 35 years is a long time,” Toyota senior managing officer Kiyotaka Ise recently said at a media event, as quoted by the AP. “But for an automaker to envision all combustion engines as gone is pretty extraordinary.”
The forecast for internal-combustion engines is shared with others in the industry, however Toyota breaks from the mainstream in its focus on hydrogen rather than battery-powered EVs. FCVs are still expensive compared to gasoline and hybrid models, as are current long-range electric cars, and both technologies are in a race to reach mass-market viability in terms of price, range and practicality.
Tesla Motors has placed its bet at the other end of the spectrum, expecting battery prices to continue falling — driven down by the broader electronics industry and the company’s own Gigafactory plant. Meanwhile, charging infrastructure continues to expand around the country.
Honda first launched its hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity in the US market approximately seven years ago, leasing just a few dozen units. In the intervening years leading to the Toyota Mirai’s forthcoming arrival, only 12 hydrogen refueling stations are currently online in the US. Recent reports suggest some stations are unreliable, remaining completely offline for days at a time or restricting customers to partial tank fills.
Toyota expects its Mirai to surpass 30,000 global sales by the end of the decade, potentially two years behind the Tesla Model 3 and Chevrolet Bolt. Tesla’s Model S production already reached 35,000 units last year, while Nissan’s Leaf just edged past the 30,000 mark in the US market alone.
Despite the uncertainties surrounding hydrogen, Toyota still has a significant lead in the hybrid market. The company sold over 207,000 Prius hybrids last year in the US, along with tens of thousands of Camry Hybrids. With four million hybrids collectively sold so far globally, the Japanese automaker hopes to hit 15 million by the end of the decade.