The new president of Toyota Motor Corp. said the company is focusing on cutting carbon dioxide emissions rather than boosting sales of electric vehicles, sticking to its green technology strategy of offering multiple options.

Koji Sato said the world's biggest automaker by volume is committed to the goal of reducing average CO2 emissions from vehicles sold globally by 33 percent by 2030 and by more than 50 percent by 2035 when compared with 2019 levels. The automaker aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

"What matters the most is a CO2 emissions reduction," the 53-year-old longtime engineer said in a recent meeting with a group of reporters.

Toyota Motor Corp. President Koji Sato speaks during an interview in Nagoya, central Japan, on April 17, 2023. (Pool photo)(Kyodo)

Sato took the helm at Toyota on April 1, replacing founding family scion Akio Toyoda in the company's first leadership change in 14 years.

The auto industry faces a rapid shift as demand is sharply increasing for zero emission and autonomous vehicles on the back of stricter emission regulations and fierce competition for safer vehicles.

Attention is often paid to how Toyota's EV sales will fare. But EVs are just one option of reducing emissions, Sato said.

The new president said earlier this month that Toyota aims for sales of 1.5 million EVs by 2026, a sharp rise from the 24,000 it sold last year.

The figures compare with the 1.31 million electric vehicles sold by Tesla, the world's largest EV maker, in 2022 and the Volkswagen Group's sales of 572,100.

Toyota believes battery EVs are not the only solution, betting on the need for multiple alternatives such as hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicles, hybrids and plug-in hybrids to cut CO2 emissions.

Its "multi-pathway strategy" is sometimes considered a factor behind its relatively slow shift to all-electric vehicles.

But Sato said there would be no change in the automaker's plan to provide a variety of powertrain options, saying that "What would happen if (all vehicles) were consolidated into just EVs and something happened to the electric (supply)?"

Toyota aims to offer more green vehicles in emerging markets in particular, Sato said.

Analysts say Toyota's multi-pathway strategy makes business sense to meet different emission cut requirements worldwide and Toyota still needs to strengthen its EV business to stay competitive.

"We are going to pursue the best product mix" including vehicles powered by hydrogen and battery, Sato said.

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