Toyota is shifting focus from long-range battery EVs to fuel cell vehicles

Article by Christian Andrei, on May 23, 2014

For Toyota Motor Corp., battery-powered EVs are short-range vehicles that customers could use to travel from home to office and back. But when it comes to long-distance travels, Toyota prefers hybrids, and plug-in hybrids as well as hydrogen fuel cells, Jim Lentz, chief executive of Toyota’s North American region, told Automotive News in an interview.

Toyota has in fact become more focused on fuel cell vehicle development – simply because, compared to battery EVs, hydrogen fuel cells are cheaper on a cost-per-vehicle basis and are more efficient on a well-to-wheel basis.

His remarks to Automotive News come as Toyota decided to terminate an r&d agreement with Tesla Motors to supply 2,600 RAV4 EVs with battery packs over three years. According to Lentz, the agreement “was never about open-ended volume,” adding that it was time to either continue or stop the deal.

He remarked that he personally felt that it is better to invest in fuel cell development than in another 2,500 EVs. Lentz said the both carmakers learned from each other in the partnership – Toyota learning about “being faster to market” and Tesla learning about quality control.

He noted that despite the shift in focus, Toyota is not anti-battery. Lentz remarked that Toyota is a “big battery company” with 6 million hybrids powered by batteries. [source: automotive news - sub. required]

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