“Battery-powered cars with a long range are very expensive and it takes a long time to charge them. Such cars do not fit in our program,” said Takeshi Uchiyamada, chairman of Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp, through the German magazine Der Spiegel. He deems that electric vehicles are not yet ready for mass production.
This was after the announcement of Toyota last September that it has established a joint venture with Mazda to develop electric vehicle technology. The two automakers agreed on founding the new venture in pursuit of catching up with their rivals in the midst of rapidly increasing competition to develop zero-emission, fully electric vehicles.
Furthermore, Uchiyamada said that he is not considering the American company Tesla, known as the electric vehicle pioneer, as a role model. “Tesla is not our enemy and not our role model,” Uchiyamada said. Both Toyota and Mazda currently do not have a fully electric passenger car on the market yet; while Tesla has just revealed an electric heavy duty truck and a fully electric roadster.
“I think it’s the German manufacturers that rather see Tesla as a competitor,” adds Uchiyamada. German automakers BMW and Mercedes are targeting to mass produce new electric cars based on their traditional car models even though critics are skeptic this is possible without surpassing the technology introduced by Tesla.
What Toyota is currently working on, according to Uchiyamada, is a new type of solid-state battery which can store more energy and has quicker recharging process. “This technology will be a big development step. But that will still take time. We expect mass production in four to five years.”
In addition to its partnership with Mazda, Toyota has just agreed with Suzuki Motor Corp last Friday to cooperate in selling electric vehicles in India starting 2020. This partnership aims to push each other up in the electric vehicle markets and in low-emission technology.