Toyota, the automotive giant known for its dominance in Le Mans and the World Rally Championship, is reaffirming its commitment to petrol engines despite the growing global trend towards electric vehicles.

By Nida Anis

Akio Toyoda, Toyota’s chairman and a known enthusiast of motorsport, emphasizes the importance of this decision for Japan’s economy and for providing consumers with diverse choices.

At the Tokyo Auto Salon 2024, he said, “To all those who made engines up until now, let’s continue to make engines. Everyone’s help will continue to be needed. I will never let the work you’ve all done so far go to waste.”

Toyoda: “My desire to enjoy cars makes me want to try various technologies”

The Tokyo Auto Salon, a major event for car enthusiasts showcasing fast and modified vehicles, was the platform where Toyota announced an update to the Yaris GR, a project initially propelled by Toyoda.

He described the salon as a “festival at which car lovers can surround themselves with cars and smiles,” highlighting its role in energizing the automotive industry.

Toyoda’s passion for cars is evident in his approach to exploring various technologies. “My desire to enjoy cars makes me want to try various technologies,” he said. “This is something that I’m serious about.”

“There is still a role for engines” in achieving carbon neutrality

Toyoda also focused on the significant number of people in Japan’s automotive industry who are involved in engine production. “Many of our 5.5 million colleagues make engine parts,” he said.

“These people support Japan and have the skills to make the Japan of tomorrow strong. We must never lose these people,” he stated, underscoring the critical role of these workers in the industry and the nation’s future.”

Despite the company’s commitment to electric vehicles, as evidenced by its plans for an EV lineup, Toyoda reaffirmed the role of internal combustion engines even in an increasingly eco-conscious world.

“There is still a role for engines as a practical means of achieving carbon neutrality,” he said at the Tokyo Auto Salon.

Toyoda believes in the potential of evolving engine technology to combat carbon emissions while preserving jobs and the quintessential experiences that car enthusiasts cherish.

A new project to revitalise engine development

In line with this, Toyota is embarking on a new project to revitalize engine development, supported by CEO Koji Sato and other executives.

Toyoda emphasized the necessity of this initiative, stating, “You may think, ‘Engines in this day and age?’ It might sound like we are running against the times, but that is not true. This is a necessary step toward the future.”

The decision comes at a time when EV adoption in the U.S. is showing signs of slowing, as highlighted by Hertz’s recent move to sell a third of its EV fleet and reinvest in gasoline-powered vehicles.

In addition to traditional gasoline engines, Toyota is also exploring hydrogen-powered engines, which emit only water and trace emissions. This technology represents a clean and innovative way to maintain combustion engines while contributing to carbon reduction.

Header photo credit: Toyota Newsroom

 

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