Exclusive: Toyota head from lawmaker cited lobbying after a policy document in Japan emphasizing hybrids

TOKYO, June 24 (Reuters) – A lawmaker cited Toyota’s head after a battery of electric vehicles with hybrids was on display to support a key policy document that changed automakers’ ability to back a government that rejected technology. Notes from a ruling party meeting.

The wording changes, which include a reference to “so-called electric-powered vehicles”, appear on fossil-fuel burning hybrids with equal footing on zero-emission battery vehicles, even though environmentalists say there is a vast difference.

Japan’s auto industry, most likely Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), has come under pressure from environmentalists and green investors who say it has slowed down to a slow transition to battery-electric vehicles and lobbied governments. read more

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Akira Amari, a former industry minister and a veteran member of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), called for a change in the government’s annual economic policy roadmap at a June 3 meeting, according to Akio Toyoda. notes and audio reviewed by Reuters.

Toyoda is the chairman of the Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) lobby and president of Toyota.

“I spoke with Chairman Toyoda yesterday and he said that JAMA cannot endorse a government that rejects hybrids,” Amari said of the policy meeting of LDP lawmakers, according to the notes and audio.

Use of synthetic fuel, such as hydrogen, would make hybrids “100% clean energy” cars and the policy document must be explicit, Amari said.

“If we don’t make that clear, JAMA will push back with all its might,” Amari said, according to the notes and audio.

“We don’t say that hybrids are included in the category of electric vehicles,” he said, adding that a reference to electric-powered vehicles should be changed to “so-called electric-powered vehicles.” ..

Amari confirmed to Reuters that the inclusion of “so-called” to make clear that electric vehicles were not limited to battery-electric vehicles and included hybrids. He said no other changes for the asked.

He confirmed that he had spoken to Toyoda.

“What Mr. Toyoda is trying to say is that synthetic fuels with good hybrids are good for the environment. They are extremely fuel efficient. He said he would be extremely unsatisfied if hybrids were rejected. That’s what he told me.” LDP were rejecting hybrids and I said that we were doing no such thing. “

Amari told Reuters that automakers are developing zero-emissions internal combustion engines. Such fuels could also be used in aircraft, which cannot run on battery power, he said.

In a statement to the Reuters, JAMA said the auto industry was making every effort to make its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Since the goal was carbon neutrality, it was important to have broader options and not limited to specific technologies.

It was also necessary to respond to various situations and customer needs in each country and region, it said.

A Toyota spokesperson referred to Reuters to JAMA.

A FOOTNOTE

The final version of the document, available online, refers to Japan’s 2035 target of all new domestic car sales being “so-called electric-powered vehicles,” and many more mentions of the main text that include hybrids.

An earlier draft from May 31, also available online, shows a reference to hybrids only in a footnote. The main text refers to the 2035 target of all new car sales being “electric-powered vehicles”.

The annual policy document is of major importance to the government and serves as a framework for its future policy.

Toyota, the largest automaker by sales, has said fossil fuels, not internal combustion engines, are the problem. As well as the hybrids it has become popular more than two years ago with the Prius, which also champions hydrogen technology, which has never been caught on battery-electric cars.

Energy and climate think-tank InfluenceMap has rated Toyota the worst among major automakers for its lobbying record on climate policy, which includes public statements and interaction with governments.

It has been criticized by its own investors, including pension funds, over its lobbying. Denmark’s AkademikerPension has sold most of its stock to Toyota over the last year.

Toyota last year commissioned 8 trillion yen ($ 60 billion) to electrify its cars by 2030, with half of those slated to develop battery electric vehicles. Still, it expects annual sales of such cars to reach 3.5 million vehicles by the end of the decade, or around a third of current sales.

It says hybrids make sense in the markets where infrastructure is ready to support a faster move to battery vehicles, and that customers should have more choices for cleaner technology.

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Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Additional reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo, Maki Shiraki and Kaori Kaneko; Editing by David Dolan

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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