California's gas-powered vehicle ban will be 'difficult' to meet, Toyota's president says

Toyota, the best-selling auto brand in California, has recognized the state's authority to set vehicle emissions standards under the U.S. Clean Air Act.

The president of Toyota Motor Corporation said this week that adhering to California’s plan to ban gas emission vehicles will be "difficult" to achieve, and battery powered cars will take longer to phase in than the "mainstream media" believes.

"Realistically speaking, it seems rather difficult to really achieve them," Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda told reporters through a translator on Thursday discussing California’s new mandates.

"But just like the fully autonomous cars that we were all supposed to be driving by now, BEVs are just going to take longer to become mainstream than the media would like us to believe," Toyoda told car dealers at the event.

Toyoda’s comments come after California’s Air Resources Board, at the direction of the state’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, adopted rules that would mandate all new cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs be electric or hydrogen powered by 2035.


Toyota's President Akio Toyoda delivers speech

Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda ((Photo by YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images) / Getty Images)

In August, Toyota said it would boost its planned investment in a new U.S. battery plant from $1.29 billion to $3.8 billion, partly in response to rising consumer demand for electric vehicles. Toyota, the best-selling auto brand in California, last month recognized the state's authority to set vehicle emissions standards under the U.S. Clean Air Act.

"This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change," Newsom said in 2020 outlining the emissions plan. "For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe. Californians shouldn’t have to worry if our cars are giving our kids asthma. Our cars shouldn’t make wildfires worse – and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines."

Toyoda, the grandson of the company's founder, said in Wednesday's video that "playing to win means playing with all the cards in the deck - not just a select few. So that’s our strategy, and we’re sticking to it." 


Gov. Gavin Newsom

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks to reporters during a visit the Antioch Water Treatment Plant  ((Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) / Getty Images)

Toyoda compared the automaker to a "department store" selling a variety of vehicles to customers with different needs.

Toyoda outlined challenges to EV adoption, including impacts on the electrical grid and lack of easy access to electricity by about one billion people around the world.


Toyota Rav4 plugged in to charge

A 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime electric car recharges its batteries November 5, 2021, at a charging station next to the town hall in Charlotte, Vermont.  ((Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images) / Getty Images)

This week, New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul said her state is set to adopt a similar plan to California's, saying that she has directed a state environmental agency to propose and finalize rules setting yearly rising zero-emission vehicle rules starting in 2026 that phases out gasoline-only new car sales by 2035.

Reuters contributed to this report