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Auto blogSun, 25 May 2014 18:51:00 EST
Toyota is not bullish on EVs. That comes from the company's North American CEO, Jim Lentz, who said the company will focus not on electrification, but on continued hybridization with a long-term focus on hydrogen fuel cells.
Lentz questioned the long-range ability of EVs, saying that Toyota feels "there are better alternatives, such as hybrids and plug-in hybrids, and tomorrow with fuel cells." Lentz spoke about Toyota's focus on hydrogen following Forbes Brainstorm Green conference and barely a week after a battery deal between Tesla and Toyota ended, according to Automotive News.
That deal provided for 2,500 battery packs for the Rav4 EV. While valuable to Toyota, the deal "was never about open-ended volume," Lentz said. "It was time to either continue or stop. My personal feeling was that I would rather invest my dollars in fuel cell development than in another 2,500 EVs."
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-WV, held an all-day summit on Thursday to discuss the dangers of using modern technology while driving, during which an ad that Mazda aired during the Super Bowl was used as an example of the worrisome future towards which we're headed. While seemingly innocuous at first glance, the ad, which can be seen below, shows a brief glimpse of a driver using the Mazda Connect infotainment system in a Mazda3 to check/update his Facebook page while driving down the road.
Officials from major communications companies like Samsung, Google and Apple attended the summit, as well as representatives from automakers including General Motors and Toyota. A representative from Mazda was not present despite the company's own currently available technology being used as the poster child for the issues being discussed.
According to Automotive News, Senator Rockefeller warned the automaker and communication execs on hand that he will propose legislation to regulate the use of technology while driving if they don't work together to implement their own standards more quickly. Michael Robinson, GM's vice president of sustainability and global regulatory affairs, argued that his company has had distracted driving guidelines in place for 15 years since the advent of its OnStar system, noting that the technology in question has also helped the automaker save lives through automatic crash detection and calls to 911.
Four months have passed since Toyota ended its relationship with Tesla Motors, in which the electric-vehicle specialist supplied full lithium-ion battery packs to the Japanese behemoth for its RAV4 EV rollout, of which 2,500 vehicles will be completed. Now, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk has been heard suggesting that a future collaboration is likely within the next two to three years, and that it will probably be much larger than the last one.
Both Tesla and Toyota have sung each other's praises in the not-too-distant past, Toyota telling Autoblog back in May, "We have a good relationship with Tesla and will evaluate the feasibility of working together on future projects." According to Automotive News, Musk said of the Japanese giant, "We love working with Toyota... We have a huge amount of respect for them as a company and certainly much to learn."
Interestingly, though, the two automakers have rather divergent strategies for eco-friendly automobiles. Toyota, as you're surely aware, is the clear-cut leader in hybrids and has thrown its massive support in the direction of hydrogen fuel cells, while Tesla has invested heavily in battery-electric technology and high-speed charging stations.