Why Toyota – the world’s largest automaker – isn’t all-in on electric vehicles

Roughly two decades ago, Toyota Motor became the preferred carmaker of U.S. environmentalists and eco-conscious consumers with its Prius hybrid, an “electrified” vehicle that was among the cleanest and most fuel-efficient vehicles ever produced.

Amid rising gas prices, demand for the vehicle grew and inspired other automakers to roll out a litany of hybrid models. Prius vehicles, including a plug-in hybrid electric model, remain among the most fuel-efficient, gas-powered cars in America.

But as the auto industry transitions to a battery-powered future, the Japanese automaker has fallen out of favor with some of its once-core supporters due, ironically, to the Prius and Toyota’s hesitancy to invest in all-electric vehicles.

“The fact is: a hybrid today is not green technology. The Prius hybrid runs on a pollution-emitting combustion engine found in any gas-powered car,” Katherine García, director of the Sierra Club’s Clean Transportation for All campaign, wrote in a recent blog post.

Greenpeace last week ranked Toyota at the bottom of a study of 10 automakers’ decarbonization efforts, citing slow progress in its supply chain and sales of zero-emission vehicles such as EVs that totaled less than 1% of its overall sales.

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