Survey Reveals Toyota Dealers’ Reluctance with Electric Cars

By · October 12, 2012



Based on results from a new survey by AutoRetailNet, a publication targeting dealers, Toyota dealers apparently don’t even want to try to sell an all-electric Scion iQ. And they love regular hybrids. But they do think Toyota will revive the electric Scion in the future.

If a dealer isn’t behind a car, it won’t sell. So Toyota made the right decision in almost killing the electric iQ for now. Dealers think Toyota will revive the electric Scion in the future. That may be a bad decision, because dealers don’t think battery electric cars will be selling well five years from now, either.
In late September, Toyota announced it would massively scale back plans to introduce a mini pure electric vehicle in the U.S. Vice chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada said pure electric cars do not meet society’s needs in terms of range, cost, or charging time.

In the survey, 85 percent of Toyota dealers said that was the right decision. (Full disclosure—I am the West Coast Editor of AutoRetailNet, so I read all the responses.) “The government is pushing CAFE regulations too hard and not allowing consumers to spend their own money,” said a dealer in Arizona. “Most customers will not spend an additional $6,500 to get a 20 percent increase in fuel.”

Though they don’t seem to like the model, 61 percent thought Toyota would revive the model at some time in the future. Only 5 percent thought battery electric vehicles would be the best-selling electric vehicle technology five years in the future. Yet, reviving the electric Scion iQ is perhaps a necessary decision for Toyota in order to meet various regulatory requirements ranging from CAFE to California’s Zero Emission Vehicle regulation.

So, what electric vehicle technology do the dealers think will be the best-seller in five years? Regular hybrid was the overwhelming choice at 70 percent. No surprise there. Ten percent thought plug-in hybrids would rule the EV roost in five years. And in a surprisingly strong showing, 15 percent thought hydrogen fuel cell vehicles would be the best-selling electric vehicles in five years.

Toyota has said it will launch a fuel cell vehicle in 2015. Rather than the SUV FCV it has shown in the earlier prototypes, the vehicle it launches in 2015 will be a small sedan, Craig Scott, the manager of advanced technologies group at Toyota Motor Sales USA, told me a few days ago. It just may sell well because dealers seem to think it will.

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