Akio Toyoda, grandson of Toyota founder Kiichiro Toyoda, surprised the industry when he stepped down as President to become Chairman of the Board in early 2023, with Toyota’s Chief Branding Officer, Koji Sato, becoming the CEO and President.
Campaign Launch, February 2022
Our campaign mobilized Toyota customers and Action Speaks Louder supporters to sign our petition calling on Toyota to go 100% electric by 2030. On March 28th, 2023 we delivered all 10,730 petition signatures to Toyota’s new CEO, Koji Sato, at the company’s Tokyo office, asking him to deliver on plans to ‘get serious about EVs.’
We also signed a letter alongside 53 other environmental and consumer groups, representing millions of citizens around the world, asking Mr. Sato to commit to phase out all internal combustion engine vehicles in the U.S and Europe by 2030 and globally by 2035, and end Toyota’s anti-climate lobbying immediately upon assuming his new role.
Starting with the introduction of the Prius in 1997, Toyota was praised for being a leader in the development of more fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles, combining an internal fossil fuel combustion engine with an electric motor and battery power.
However, today we have battery electric-only models that have eclipsed hybrid technology. Unlike hybrid vehicles, which still emit carbon dioxide when using fuel, electric vehicles do not have tailpipe emissions.
Tailpipe emissions from internal combustion engine cars, trucks and other road vehicles account for roughly 15% of global CO2 emissions. This means that fully electrifying vehicles is imperative if we want to reduce global emissions and limit global warming.
Hybrid vehicles do not reduce emissions at the level that we need in order to avoid the most severe consequences of climate change.
In spite of this, Toyota continues to aggressively market polluting hybrids in a way that directly undermines the importance of electric vehicles and legislation that supports a transition to electric-only vehicles.
The former CEO of Toyota, Akio Toyoda, waged a relentless public campaign stating that “EVs are overhyped.”
Toyota is a real laggard by nearly every climate measure. Not only does it refuse to join the inevitable shift towards cleaner cars, but it is slowing it down. Inside Japan and worldwide, Toyota has actively undertaken lobbying against clean car regulations. This included its shocking decision to side with the Trump administration in the United States to weaken fuel economy and air quality standards in California.
There are some signs that this stubborn refusal to enter the race towards electrification may be starting to crack.
When Toyoda stepped down as CEO and Koji Sato stepped up, the former CEO admitted – as reported by Reuters – that he is a ‘relic’ from an older generation.
Media reporting, including in pro-corporate outlets, has shown that shareholder criticism of the company’s negative climate lobbying has become increasingly mainstream, leading to the company making new announcements on electric vehicles and batteries, including on the eve of the AGM.
The new CEO Koji Sato is not yet publicly criticizing electric vehicles to the same extent as his predecessor, and there may be hope that he will not seek to lobby against policy measures to ban fossil fuel vehicles and to promote clean air regulations. We are, however, yet to see concrete policy shifts.
Toyota must commit to selling 100% clean, fully electric cars. They must stop lobbying governments against making the changes we all need. That means supporting policies that push for fully electric cars and not trying to sway emissions regulations.
Electrification in transportation is vital if we want to reach the necessary climate goals to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change and bring fossil fuel emissions down. Toyota’s global economic influence as well as its political influence within Japan places it in a unique position to incite the investment and urgent action we need. By supporting, rather than blocking, electrification, Toyota has an opportunity to truly lead us into the future.
Toyota will not go from laggard to leader overnight but our advocacy and work with partners has helped plant the company on the global greenwashing radar, including for the media, and the challenging the company over its dodgy climate lobbying will continue.