Toyota shareholders protest EV stance with votes to oust longtime leader from the board

Toyota shareholders are sending a clear message at the Japanese automaker’s annual meeting this year – it’s time to go electric. Several investors have mentioned they have voted or plan to vote to remove longtime leader Akio Toyoda from the board over the automaker’s EV stance.

Shareholders voice their opinion on Toyota’s EV stance

After Akio Toyoda, the 66-year-old grandson to the company’s founder, stepped down as CEO in January, many believed newly elected leader Koji Sato would bring the automaker into the modern era.

Toyoda has been one of the most vocal critics of going all in on EVs, insisting on sticking to a hybrid strategy despite the industry moving to an all-electric future.

Although Sato explained under his leadership the automaker would “accelerate BEV development with a new approach,” shareholders are still not thrilled with the progress.

In particular, they are pointing out Toyota’s EV stance on not setting a date to go all-electric. According to the Wall Street Journal:

Shareholders including the New York City comptrollers office, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and several European asset managers said they have voted or plan to vote to oust several Toyota directors including Toyoda from their board seats at the meeting Wednesday.

They say their vote is a way of protesting against Toyoda’s policy of not setting a date to go all-electric like most automakers have.

Brad Lander, the NYC comptroller, explained his vote, saying, “Toyota is failing to lean, like its peers, into a timely transition to an electric fleet.” He continued to say:

We want to be persuaded that there is a transition under way and that they’ll take meaningful steps toward an all-EV commitment.

Under its newly elected leader, Toyota has made a series of announcements to help speed up the rollout. The Japanese automaker revealed it would develop a dedicated EV platform as well as introduce ten new EV models by 2026.

One of the first will be a three-row SUV, its first US-assembled electric model set for production in 2025 at Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky facility.

Toyota has also teased several EV concepts, including an electric family SUV (bZ FlexSpace) and a sport crossover (bZ Sport Crossover).

In addition to its first global EV, the bZ4X, Toyota released an electric sedan (bZ3) in China as it looks to keep pace in a rapidly changing market.

However, Sato has yet to set a date to go all-electric, and that’s what shareholders want to know now. When exactly will Toyota be an EV-only automaker?

Electrek’s Take

Although the chances are slim that Toyota will be removed from the board, the votes are being used as a way of protesting to push for change within the company.

While most automakers are already achieving double-digit or 100% EV sales, Toyota continues to fall further behind the pack.

Investors are realizing that Toyota is missing out on profits in key regions like the US, Europe, and China, where EV sales are soaring. With the trend only expected to accelerate, shareholders are getting sick of waiting around while Toyota continues to delay an all-electric future.

The Japanese automaker is aiming for at least 1.5 million EV sales by 2026. For comparison, Tesla produced over 440,000 EVs in the first three months of 2023, delivering over 422,000.