Toyota U.S. sales chief says win over GM ‘not sustainable’ but expects EV gamble to pay off

Toyota is making big bets on hybrids and electric vehicles after dethroning General Motors as America’s top automaker.

“What we’re still seeing today is that many consumers who are in the fully battery-electric market still need a second car to meet family needs. So the demand for hybrid has been strong and we expect it to continue to grow as the entire industry moves towards electrification later this decade,” Bob Carter, Toyota’s head of North American sales, told CNBC. Tuesday.

Carter expects Toyota hybrids to account for more than 30% of vehicle volumes, up from about 26% last year, provided supply chain disruptions ease in the second quarter of this year.

His comments on “Squawk Box” come after Toyota last year beat GM as the top-selling automaker in the United States for the first time in a century. GM has held the position since 1931. Carter said while he isn’t sure the Japanese automaker will defend its title, he expects Toyota to continue on its path.

In the long run, Carter said, staying No. 1 in the United States may not be sustainable. “Results have been results, but a lot of that has to do with supply chain stability. But I’m very, very optimistic that we’re going to have another great year in 2022.”

Carter said Toyota forecast a U.S. auto industry of 16.5 million units in the second quarter, as it expects the supply chain to become stable across the sector.

The shortage of semiconductor chips continues to affect vehicle manufacturing plants across the industry. For example, the chip shortage has forced Ford Motor to cut production of some of its vehicles, including the Ford Bronco and Ford F-150 next week.

Toyota has two electric vehicles coming out this year. The Toyota bZ4X should arrive in the spring and the Lexus RZ45e should be released at the end of the year. Toyota is also expanding its hybrid strategy, adding a new model called the i-Force Max to its Tundra pickup offerings this spring. according to Autoweek.

Carter said while he expects a “slow acceleration as we enter this new world of battery electric manufacturing,” Toyota will continue to add electric vehicles to its fleet as part of its future growth.

“This is the first of many battery-electric devices that are coming. So we think right now the infrastructure as well as consumer demand is at the tipping point where we’re going to start going in and putting more and more more of these models on the market,” he said.

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