A senior Toyota Australia executive has been slapped down on social media by a senior Tesla executive on social media on the Japanese’s car giant’s extraordinary claims that battery EVs don’t make sense in Australia due to Australia’s energy generation from coal.
“BEVs make sense right now in places like Norway where most energy is renewable and incomes are high,” Toyota Australia vice-president of sales, marketing, and franchise operations Sean Hanley told Australian journalists as the company tried to catch up with the electric transition with the launch of its bZ4x EV and promises of other EVs in the pipeline
“But Australia is not Europe.”
This prompted a withering response from Tesla Vice President of public policy and business development, Rohan Patel, who wrote on Twitter/X that Hanley “is obviously not much of an expert” on the Australian electricity grid.
“Already today the lifetime emissions of electric vehicles are far better than internal combustion, and that gap is widening as the grid gets cleaner,” says Patel.
“Aussies love distributed solar/storage, so thousands of families are already running their EVs on 100% clean electricity from the sun.
“But this is an even crazier argument in Australia in particular. Australia imports ~90% of its oil while being the current and future home to a growing battery materials mining and processing industry.”
Tesla, of course, is the market leader in EVs in Australia, with some 60 per cent of the market, and still the world’s biggest, just ahead of BYD. Toyota is the world’s biggest car maker, but has done little on EVs, and has focused more on hybrids, which have sold well, and fuel cell vehicles, which haven’t.
The two companies have battled over the introduction of favourable EV policies, particularly in Australia where Toyota has lobbied intensely against supportive policies for EVs.
Toyota says its bZ4X – an electric SUV and Toyota’s first battery EV – will be arriving next year.
So far, we know that there will be multiple versions, some with one motor driving the front wheels (a 2WD) and others with two motors powering both sets of wheels (4WD). Journalists were also told that the Australian bZ4X would have “upgraded spec compared to what is currently available”. There is no price set at this stage.
The bZ4X, which currently is available in the US, Japan and Europe, was to launch in Australia almost 18 months ago but its arrival was delayed, .a move Hanley said at the time was designed to secure a greater supply and more powerful options.
“Rest assured, our Australian customers will be offered Toyota BEVs in multiple segments in the coming years,” said Hanley at the Motor show earlier this week.
“For us, it has never been a question of if we should launch BEVs, but only when.
“Now is absolutely the right time – and it all starts with the bZ4X with its high-quality battery.
“The bZ4X not just an electric car, it’s the foundation for the next phase of our electrification strategy.”
But he insisted that hybrids were the right way to go.
“Right now, hybrid-electric vehicles are a better fit than BEVs for most consumers,” he said.
“They are more affordable and don’t require charging infrastructure. They’re cars for the masses, not for the few.”
“From industrial policy to clean air policy, it is a no-brainer for the Australian people and government to move quickly to battery electric vehicles. Aussies are too smart than to be tricked by cynical PR that aims to slow the sustainable transportation transition to help sell internal combustion vehicles in the short term,” said Tesla’s Patel on X.
“We will continue to see EV sales grow in Australia and globally because they’re safer, more affordable and more fun to drive.”