Toyota accused of spreading EV misinformation to profit from fossil fuel hybrids

The government is deciding whether Australia’s best-selling vehicle – the RAV4 hybrid – should be excluded from benefits tax. Source: Toyota

Greenpeace has slammed Australia’s most trusted carmaker, Toyota, for being a ‘global roadblock’ and ‘spreading misinformation’ about electric vehicles, as research shows hybrid electric vehicles lack the climate benefits that the major automotive giants have been pushing into Australia’s scarce electric vehicle market. .

Lindsay Soutar, Greenpeace Electrify Campaign Director, says SmartCompany that Toyota “lobby to weaken vehicle emissions standards, whitewash its image and promote misinformation about electric vehicles while reaping big profits from polluting internal combustion engines and fossil-fuel hybrid cars.”

That’s the conclusion of a wide-ranging Greenpeace investigation called ‘The Toyota Files’ which found the automaker is pressuring governments to ‘support fossil-fuel hybrid cars’ and place ‘profit before the health and safety of Australians and the environment”.

“Toyota has proven to be a global barrier to electric vehicles,” Soutar said.

“While other companies are making rapid changes to increase production of electric vehicles, Toyota has stayed on the slow lane, pushing instead to delay the transition rather than embrace it.”

Senate clash over definition of electric vehicles

It comes as Senate power brokers, the Greens and key MPs, including independent David Pocock, are at an impasse with the government over whether plug-in hybrid electric vehicles should be eligible for the generous tax incentives of the Labor Party policy on electric vehicles.

The policy excludes electric vehicles from benefits tax – which would make them cheaper for employers when included in a salary package for an employee – and excludes electric vehicles from import tariffs, which would reduce the retail price for consumers.

But the question of whether petrol hybrid electric vehicles should be included has divided MPs.

“Public money should drive the electric vehicle revolution, not aid for petrol cars,” said Greens leader Adam Bandt.

Plus, Pocock points out, half of the miles traveled by plug-in hybrids use the gas engine rather than the battery.

“I’m concerned that this legislation, as written, will slow the transition to electric vehicles. The market for used electric vehicles is the one we need to foster, not used hybrids.

Not-so-green hybrids, warns Greenpeace

Hybrid electric vehicles, including plug-in hybrids, feature a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine (ICE) as well as a battery-powered motor. When a driver accelerates, electricity is generated for the battery-powered motor, while a plug-in hybrid gets its electricity when charged, much like your regular smartphone.

Generally, hybrids are billed as running on electricity between 50 km/h and 80 km/h and revert to gasoline otherwise.

But a hybrid electric vehicle is much closer to a gas-guzzling petrol car than a true electric vehicle, according to a study by the European Federation for Transport and the Environment (E&T), an influential NGO that has shaped some of the laws continent’s most significant environmental challenges to date. .

E&T’s “How Clean Are Electric Cars?” The tool and report show that regular hybrids only reduce automotive emissions by a fifth (21%), while plug-in hybrids only reduce them by a quarter (26%). Electric vehicles, on the other hand, reduce emissions by more than two-thirds (69%).

“Hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have been heavily promoted as a climate solution, but despite their green credentials, life cycle and real-world use, the analysis reveals significant limitations of this technology,” said Sutar.

“Experience from Europe suggests that consumers may not be getting the financial and emissions savings they may be anticipating.”

But it looks like Toyota is digging in its heels. Two weeks ago, Reuters reported that Toyota is rethinking its $38 billion EV rollout plan to compete with Tesla and has halted work on some of the 30 EV projects announced in December, including the Toyota Compact Cruiser crossover and the battery-electric Crown.

Why? Domestically, at least, that’s a better bottom line. In 2021, Toyota was Australia’s biggest seller of hybrids – mostly RAV4s – with a record 65,491 exits from the showroom, accounting for almost a third (29.3%) of the titan’s total sales Japanese car.

“Internal combustion and hybrid engines are complicated pieces of machinery, requiring lots of parts and ongoing maintenance, on which Toyota can generate returns,” the Greenpeace report revealed.

But Toyota says it’s all in the name of climate action. When approached for comment, a Toyota spokesperson pointed out SmartCompany to a press release where CEO Matthew Callachor said: “At this time, due to their popularity and record sales in Australia, Toyota [hybrid EVs] offer a significant benefit by reducing the amount of carbon entering the atmosphere.

“They’re cutting more emissions, sooner, than [EVs] only.”

Research suggests otherwise. A study by the International Council on Clean Transport (ICCT) examined 9,000 vehicles in the European Union, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom and found that 89% of the hybrid car’s power came from gasoline .

So how did Callachor reason? In the late 90s, Toyota was a pioneer in hybrid technology, and in 2001 the revolutionary Prius hybrid exploded onto the market, ushering in an era of cleaner cars. Toyota has sold a quarter of a million hybrids since then.

“According to our calculations, these 240,000 hybrids had the same impact on CO2 reduction as approximately 72,000 [EVs]said Callachor.

“Yet the volume of batteries we used to produce these hybrid electric vehicles is the same as what we would need for just 3500 [EVs],” he said.

“It means that [hybrid EVs] are an extremely effective way to reduce carbon emissions today, and at a relatively affordable price.

But Soutar says the tide has turned. Sales of electric vehicles overtook hybrids for the first time in Australia, with 7,247 electric vehicles sold in October compared to 5,141 hybrids.

And that would have happened years ago if Australia hadn’t fallen behind as one of the only OECD countries without fuel emission standards, which drastically narrowed the selection of electric vehicle models on the internal market.

“For companies like Toyota, falling back on hybrids to claim they are doing their part to tackle climate change is simply no longer good enough,” Soutar said.

Australia ‘at the bottom of the world’

An energy efficiency standard is a cap on the overall amount of emissions an automaker could have on all of its vehicles, which would ideally direct it towards creating more efficient models, like electric vehicles.

A manufacturer’s overall limit would decrease over a period of years in order to reduce our emissions, and if a manufacturer exceeded their standard energy efficiency limit, they would be fined.

In 2014 Australia’s Climate Change Authority backed fuel emissions standards, but successive coalition governments have stagnated while 80% of the car manufacturing market has moved forward with the standards.

Thus, just over 3% of new vehicle sales in Australia are electric, compared to 16.9% in the United Kingdom and 83.7% in Norway.

“With no energy efficiency standards in place, Australia is at the back of the global queue for electric vehicle supply, and instead we are stuck receiving the most pollutants in the world that other countries will no longer accept,” Soutar said.

“Unlocking Australia’s supply of affordable electric cars through strict fuel efficiency standards will save motorists money, clean our air and reduce our dependence on polluted and imported fuel.

Earlier this year, Climate Minister Chris Bowen said the government would consider adopting tougher fuel efficiency standards to boost electric vehicle sales, but has yet to implement any. Politics.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Soutar said.

“It’s time for the Albanian government to get on with it.”

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