Shared from the 6/20/2019 San Antonio Express eEdition

Toyota bringing electric fleet online by 2025

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Kentaro Takahashi / Bloomberg

A Toyota concept electric vehicle is displayed during a news conference in Tokyo.

A Toyota official said Wednesday the automaker will offer an electric or hybrid version of every vehicle model it manufactures by 2025.

The company is one of the first major car manufacturers to set a target date for a green-vehicle transformation of its product line.

Also, it’s making the pledge even though North American drivers aren’t currently demanding electric and hybrid vehicles in big numbers.

Russ Koble, communications manager for Toyota’s advanced technology team, said the company believes in electric cars as part of its commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

He said the company’s vision goes back to its 1997 introduction of Prius, its part electric, part gas-powered car.

“However, it was a little bit before its time — gas was about a dollar a gallon and the star of the Detroit auto show was the Hummer,” he said during the Plug Me In electrification conference at the Pearl Stable.

At first, Prius was widely viewed as a “science experiment,” Koble said, but Toyota since has sold more than 13 million of the vehicles.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda first highlighted his commitment to producing electric cars in every model in its Toyota and Lexus lines several years ago. But the manufacturer has yet to come out with a fully electric car.

Meanwhile, other manufacturers such as Chevrolet, with its Volt model, and the all-electric Tesla Motors have taken the lead.

Koble said the automaker’s strategy was to appeal to specific segments of the marketplace with each of its models.

“So we do this because Toyota believes in a portfolio approach to technology, not a ‘one size fits all’ vehicle,” he said.

For motorists traveling small distances, Koble said, fully battery-powered electric vehicles make sense, but hybrid models may be preferable to other consumers.

Toyota dropped its all-electric RAV4 sports utility vehicle in 2014.

Officials at General Motors, the largest U.S. auto manufacturer, have said they plan to phase out gas-powered vehicles for an all-electric line-up in the future, but they haven’t named a date for the transformation.

Other auto manufacturers have said they’ll roll out a large number of electric vehicles in the coming years, but haven’t committed to a specific timeline like Toyota.

Toyota assemblies full-size Tundra and mid-size Tacoma pickups at its South Side plant, but Koble didn’t say when consumers could see fully electric or hybrid versions of either truck.

Auto analysts have speculated that Toyota will introduce a hybrid Tundra when it unveils the truck’s redesign late this year or in 2020.

With most pickup owners not laser-focused on gas mileage, Toyota likely would emphasize improved performance from a partly electric or hybrid engine, Jeremy Acevedo, manager of industry analysis at automotive website Edmunds.com, has said.

Tundra has struggled for years to make a dent in the full-size pickup market, which is dominated by the Ford F-150, the Chevy Silverado and the Ram 1500.

However, Tacoma has dominated the midsize truck market.

Another speaker at the conference, sponsored by the EPIcenter, said studies suggest that by as early as 2022, the cost of owning an electric vehicle could drop below the cost of owning a conventional vehicle .

“We think we'll go from being the province of people with a lot of money to be a low-cost solution,” he said Tom Wilson, principal technical executive at the Electrical Power Research Institute. randy.diamond@express-news.net

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