Climate Activists Are Trying to Fire Toyota's Chairman for Questioning Their EV Obsession

($5.2 billion)

Full disclosure up front: I own a Toyota Highlander. With the exception of fuel efficiency, it’s the best car I’ve ever owned (that distinction goes to the Hyundai Elantra I had for 10 years). I’ve driven cars of various makes and models from different manufacturers, and I just like this one the best.


They were also one of the first companies outside of Tesla to really compete in the electric vehicle space with their all-electric and hybrid Prius, and they’ve expanded from there. It would seem that if any company should be praised by climate activists, it would be the progressives on the left who have been screeching for all of us to go all-electric in the way-too-near future.

But leftist investors are actually pushing for an ouster of the current chairman of Toyota, Akio Toyoda, because he dares to question the Western progressive obsession with going all-electric by 2023. They want to punish dissent, and groups that have invested in Toyota are trying to convince their members to go along with their plan.

Pension systems in New York and California have already announced they plan to do so. Just not in so many words.

Two of the largest U.S. public pension funds have voted against the re-election of Toyota Motor Corp Chairman Akio Toyoda, shareholder voting records showed, sharpening the focus on the automaker’s annual meeting later this month.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the Office of the New York City Comptroller also voted for a resolution urging Toyota to improve disclosure of its lobbying on climate change, according to postings by the funds.

Two leading proxy advisory firms last week raised issues about governance at the automaker. One, Glass Lewis, recommended shareholders vote against re-electing Toyoda, citing what it said was his responsibility for the lack of a sufficiently independent board.

AP/Reuters Feed Library

However, those complaints about the “lack of a sufficiently independent board” are only surface complaints. The latest push to get rid of him appears to be a bit of blowback for questioning whether or not it’s even feasible or sensible to aim to achieve net-zero carbon by 2030 through an all-EV strategy.

The sudden concern suggests it is merely a pretext for punishing Mr. Toyoda for the heresy of doubting the West’s hell-bent EV transition. He made news in December when he claimed that a “silent majority” in the auto industry “is wondering whether EVs are really OK to have as a single option. But they think it’s the trend so they can’t speak out loudly.”

He also emphasized that battery-powered EVs “are not the only way to achieve the world’s carbon neutrality goals.” Toyota is promoting its hybrids and plug-in hybrids as alternatives to battery-powered EVs. Plug-in hybrids contain an internal combustion engine that can kick in when the battery runs low, which alleviates range anxiety. They are also cheaper than EVs.

A Toyota memo to auto dealers in April explained the challenges to full electrification. For instance, “most public chargers can take anywhere from 8-30 hours to charge. To meet the federal [zero-emissions vehicle] sales targets, 1.2M public chargers are needed by 2030. That amounts to approximately 400 new chargers per day.” The U.S. isn’t close to meeting that goal.

Toyoda and his company are right to point this out, and the left’s attempt to oust the former is little more than a bullying campaign to try to get the company to tow their party line – we have to get the U.S. (and the world!) to all-electric before the next decade or the planet is doomed. Never mind that the means to get there are barely developed, much less ready to be mass-implemented across the auto industry. Toyota has also previously noted that the very minerals we need to make this a reality will require hundreds of new mines and at least a decade to develop.


What’s more, there’s still the question of affordability. The current EV market puts most vehicles out of the affordability range for the average U.S. family. Even with tax credits available – with few of the EVs on the market even qualifying for those credits – it requires the family to pay upfront and get money back from the government during tax season. Who can really afford that?

But the left is dogmatically sworn to this impossible idea, and they will try to tear down anyone who stands in the way of doing that – including the chairman of one of the world’s biggest and most successful auto companies. Don’t oppose the cult, or else.


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