As the industry edges closer to zero-emission vehicles, Toyota Canada is looking to hydrogen-fuel-cell technology as the answer to one day achieving that goal, says president and CEO Larry Hutchinson.
“That is, in our opinion, the next big step toward greenhouse-gas reduction and in the end, probably the solution to it,” Hutchinson says.
But having said that, “it doesn’t mean we don’t also hedge our bets with battery-electric vehicles.” The Prius Prime plug-in hybrid arrives this spring.
However, Toyota views hybrid technology more as an interim solution Hutchinson said in an interview.
“We think it’s a good, important technology, and you’ll see us broaden that out as the years go by because we think it is a good in-between step,” he says, however, “we see the long-term play as fuel cell. We think that’s the right and most efficient way to go.”
On top of the arguments that favour fuel-cell technology for its quicker refueling time, Hutchinson also says that today’s battery-electric vehicles are not able to address the demands of many buyers.
REPLACING EFFICIENT VEHICLES
“The only opportunities to put (battery-electric) technology into vehicles are to replace pretty efficient vehicles,” Hutchinson says. “Nissan, Chevrolet, whatever, they’re replacing compact cars. They’re very efficient anyway [when] the majority of demand in the marketplace is in SUVs and trucks.”
Hutchinson also says that the benefits of battery-electric vehicles aren’t necessarily great enough to offset the hurdles against them.
“Battery-electric vehicles probably have a role, but the majority of the real improvement in greenhouse gases is going to come from hybrid,” he said. “We’ve sold about 16,000 hybrids (in 2016). If you say that’s a 30-per-cent reduction in greenhouse gas, that’s equivalent to about 5,000 electric zero-emission vehicles being put in the market.”