The writing in large letters appears repeatedly on the giant screen of the stage set up by Toyota near Brussels airport on the occasion of the Kenshiki Forum 2022. It is practically the motto of the meeting to which the European branch of the Japanese giant has invited hundreds of journalists: “ Carbon is enemy, not any particular powertrain”. The enemy is carbon, not a particular propulsion.It is in the name of this principle that Toyota defends the hybrid choice, which, as explained by the American Gill Pratt, CEO of the manufacturer’s Research Institute, of which he is the scientific “guru”, reduces CO2 emissions even more and immediately. As an example, he cites the renewal of 90% of the circulating fleet to conventional fuels with models equipped with batteries of just 1kWh: the carbon dioxide dispersed in the air would drop to 205 g / km. Although more ambitious (but more expensive and not as accessible), the slower replacement with full electric models (100 kWh battery) with plug-in (18 kWh) does not immediately allow us to stray too far from the normal values of 250 g/ km. The two scenarios with greater autonomy and zero emissions are calculated on limited conversion quotas, which are valid only for a few European markets: the more advanced ones are already beyond that. Thanks to the hybrid (and also to a decidedly more emotional design), a technology in which the manufacturer is the pioneer, Toyota has achieved a 7.3% market share in Europe: a result never achieved so far.
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To dispel any doubts, Pratt himself explains that Toyota is committed to battery electric vehicles, but not without significant “distinctions”. For example on hydrogen, which he confirms as an option especially for large vehicles, dismantling the sustainability of battery-powered full electric industrial vehicles. In the European Union, 77% of goods are transported by trucks mainly fueled by diesel, which fill up in 6 minutes. To guarantee the same distance and the same flow rate, an electricity supply would require 60 minutes. Considering that several heavy vehicles would fill up simultaneously at the same service station, an installed power of 10 MegaWatts would be required, i.e. the equivalent of the requirement of 4.00 private homes. Since in any case interventions on the grid are necessary, Pratt and Toyota suggest investing in the hydrogen one, an option that can also become interesting as an “energy vector” (they are already working on hydrogen batteries). In the United Kingdom, thanks also to the specific funds allocated by the British government, Toyota is working on the development and production (already in 2023) of the fuel cell Hilux pick-up. After the Mirai, the box body would become the second hydrogen model in the Japanese company’s range. And even if the number one of the European branch, Matt Harrison, does not go too far on the minimum dimensions of the vehicles to which fuel cell technology can be applied, he seems to understand that there may be further options at stake. Including that of hydrogen used as fuel.Toyota’s commitment on the environmental front, in the world and in Europe, is significant: Harrison assures that carbon neutrality in the Old Continent will be achieved for all activities ten years earlier than globally, in 2040 instead of 2050. With the end by 2025, 90% of the vehicles marketed in the EU by Toyota will be electrified: «We will also respect all the commitments envisaged for 2035», Harrison guarantees.