In the past week, General Motors made it clear it will continue to take steps to become a zero-emissions automaker and focus its attention on electric cars. However, not everyone shares the rosy outlook.
Toyota North America CEO, Jim Lentz, told the audience at the Automotive News World Congress that consumers have not shown an appetite for electric cars, and he foresees companies having difficulties selling new electric vehicles coming to market in the next three years. Toyota itself doesn’t offer a battery-electric car and has instead dipped its toes in the space with plug-in hybrids and limited sales of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.
Lentz said he’s worried that the industry is “overstimulated” in the belief electric cars will suddenly take over the market with a rapid force. He noted 16 out of 94 alternative-fuel vehicles on the market today sold more than 2,000 units per month in 2018. Of 16 electric cars, the Tesla Model 3 was the only car to sell more than 2,000 units per month last year, per Lentz.
While Toyota assesses the situation carefully, GM has prepared to make Cadillac its electric-car spearhead. The brand will carry the majority of the weight as GM introduces more electric cars, likely because premium brands can afford the extra costs built into an electric car. But, GM’s other brands will still share in the electric future, too.
The Toyota head wondered how automakers plan to sustain low electric-car sales if the trend keeps up and noted range and charging infrastructure are still huge hurdles. While over 200 miles of range may be sufficient for buyers, charging the car on the daily remains a hassle for the majority of Americans.
And that’s not to mention gasoline prices at some of their lowest levels in years.