Toyota defends absence from COP26 pledge, says many markets not ready for only zero-emission cars

Earlier this week, six automakers made the commitment towards phasing out fossil-fuel vehicles by 2040 as part of global efforts to cut carbon emissions and curb global warming. The six automakers who signed the Glasgow Declaration on Zero Emission Cars and Vans at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) summit in Scotland were Volvo, Ford, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar Land Rover and BYD.

However, many automakers were missing from the list, including Toyota and Volkswagen, the two largest carmakers in the world. Players such as Stellantis, Honda, Nissan and BMW were also absent, and it was reported that the no-show from key goverments was a primary reason why most carmakers held off from committing. China, the United States and Germany did not sign the declaration.

It isn’t the only reason why, as Reuters reports. Toyota says that large parts of the world are not ready for zero-emission vehicles, which is why it didn’t sign the pledge. A Toyota spokesperson told the news agency that the company was committed to reducing CO2 emissions where the energy and charging infrastructure, economics and customer readiness exist, being “ready to accelerate and help support with appropriate zero-emission vehicles.”

“However, in many areas of the world such as Asia, Africa, Middle East, an environment suitable for promoting full zero emission transport has not yet been established. We think it will take more time to make progress, thus, it is difficult for us to commit to the joint statement at this stage,” the spokesperson said.

The Japanese automaker has previously stated similar sentiments about the matter, saying that it is still too early to focus solely on electric vehicles (EVs). In September, Toyota president Akio Toyoda said that a wider view is necessary in the mission of reducing the carbon footprint. “In pursuing carbon neutrality, carbon is our enemy, not the internal combustion engine. To reduce carbon, I believe there should be practical and sustainable solutions that fit the circumstances of each country and region,” he explained.

Last month, it repeated the message, stating that a diversity of drivetrains was necessary in order to give customers different tools – such as hybrids as well as fuel-cell vehicles – to reduce CO2 output, and the task should be focused on reducing carbon emissions instead of choosing which technology is the best way to achieve those goals.

Volkswagen also said the tempo of EV adoption would “vary from region to region,” and its CEO Herbert Diess dismissed the zero-emission pledge. “”It could still make sense to use synthetic fuel cars in Latin America in 2035,” he said at a conference on Wednesday.

Earlier, BMW had indicated a similar tone when it explained why it would not sign the declaration. “There remains considerable uncertainty about the development of global infrastructure to support a complete shift to zero emission vehicles, with major disparities across markets,” the automaker said.

It has to be noted that none of the carmakers is against phasing out emissions, but each has its reservations – and objection – on the totality of the declaration.

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