Toyota warns rivals' gasoline engine phase-out goals must overcome huge challenges
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON, March 16 (Reuters) - A senior Toyota 7203.T executive will express skepticism before U.S. senators Tuesday about aspirations by rival automakers to phase out gasoline-powered vehicles, saying those goals must overcome many obstacles.
Robert Wimmer, director of Energy & Environmental Research at Toyota Motor North America, will testify at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.
"If we are to make dramatic progress in electrification, it will require overcoming tremendous challenges, including refueling infrastructure, battery availability, consumer acceptance and affordability," he will say according to an advance copy of his remarks.
He will say that while rivals have made aspirational statements, less than 2% of vehicles sold in the U.S. last year were battery electric. He will also note it took Toyota 20 years to sell more than 4 million U.S. gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles.
Toyota plans to begin selling two new electric vehicles in the United States next year, but also aims to keeps boosting sales of hybrid cars.
Many automakers and policymakers in Washington are eager for the U.S. government to take steps to speed the adoption of EVs.
General Motors Co GM.N, the largest U.S. automaker, announced in January it aspires to end sales of light-duty vehicles with internal combustion engines by 2035.
This month, Volvo said its entire car line-up will be fully electric by 2030. The Swedish carmaker owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group 0175.HK said 50% of its global sales should be fully-electric cars by 2025 and the other half hybrids.
Last month, Ford Motor Co F.N said its line-up in Europe will be fully electric by 2030, while Tata Motors TAMO.NS unit Jaguar Land Rover said its luxury Jaguar brand will be entirely electric by 2025.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)