Incoming Toyota CEO Koji Sato highlights importance of hydrogen technology alongside EV push

Toyota has been slow to embrace the electric revolution, deciding instead to invest large sums of money to develop hydrogen technology. The company’s incoming CEO Koji Sato has revealed he has no plans to waste that money even as the Japanese automaker plans a shift in focus to developing more electric vehicles (EVs).

In an interview with Automotive News Sato said hydrogen will be one piece of their approach to achieving carbon neutrality, an approach which will include hydrogen alongside hybrids and fully electric vehicles. Echoing a similar sentiment from his predecessor, Sato explained this approach will allow them to “remain flexible in order to tailor product and energies to different carbon neutral needs in different markets.”

However Sato said that for hydrogen to succeed there needs to be additional investment to build the supporting infrastructure.

“We want to ensure that hydrogen stays a viable option. [However] unless we see evolution there, we cannot expect a volume increase in the energy’s use,” Sato explained to Automotive News.

Japan’s government has plans to deploy 200,000 fuel cell-powered vehicles in the country by 2025 and 800,000 by 2030. There are currently only 160 hydrogen stations in Japan, but that figure is projected to double to 320 by 2025 and 900 by 2030.

Toyota won’t be able to do it alone according to Sato, who said they need more partners to manufacture, deliver, and use hydrogen-powered vehicles. On the automaker side of that equation, very few are doing that. Last year BMW unveiled the iX5, but it was a low-volume production car built for a pilot project. Fellow German automaker Mercedes-Benz abandoned the development of fuel-cell tech for passenger vehicles years ago.

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