Toyota’s chief is right to stand up for the ‘silent majority’ on electric cars

As supply struggles to keep up with demand, lithium prices have surged. The metal is a staggering 13 times higher than it was in summer 2020, which feeds into the ticket price of your vehicle.

The cost of running an EV is already rising as electricity gets more expensive.

As a result, demand for electric cars is falling for the first time since the pandemic, AutoTrader said recently. Falling petrol prices combined with rising EV costs make the whole proposition less attractive.

Finally, there are some jobs that alternative fuels such as hydrogen are just better at.

Electric cars are great for short trips, particularly ones with lots of stopping and starting, given they draw no power when stationary. A Tesla or equivalent is perfect for cities and densely populated areas of the world, such as Europe.

What EVs are not good at is long journeys and heavy loads. That presents challenges when trying to sell them in the second largest car market in the world: the US.

Outside of the two coasts, America is the land of the truck and the 18-wheeler. Millions of people routinely drive hundreds or even thousands of miles for work, traversing the great expanses of middle America.

In parts of the world like this, range anxiety – the fear of running out of juice in your electric car and being stranded – is an Achilles’ heel. Even if drivers can get themselves to a charge point, the thought of having to wait hours to recharge will put off most drivers.

By contrast, a hydrogen powered vehicle can be refilled at about the same time as a petrol or diesel vehicle and will keep rolling for far longer than most battery-driven counterparts.

All this is to say: Toyoda has a point. The safest and quickest way to reduce the car industry’s emissions, which is what all this is about, is to back as many possible solutions as possible and be honest about the limitations and challenges facing batteries. It is not the silver bullet that some in the car industry would have you believe.

Silent majority or not, Toyoda is right to speak up.


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