Top Toyota Scientist Warns Against Ditching Gasoline Too Soon

oyota Motor Corp.’s top scientist warned that transitioning to electric vehicles too quickly could lead drivers to hold on to old gas guzzlers and called for hybrids to be given a longer leash ahead of a Group of Seven leaders summit in Japan.

Subsidies and restrictions targeting certain powertrains could make EVs attractive for customers who can afford it, but for others it might have the opposite effect, Gill Pratt, Toyota’s chief scientist and chief executive officer of the Toyota Research Institute, told reporters in Hiroshima on Thursday.

It’s an oft-repeated argument by the world’s No. 1 carmaker: the transition to fully electric vehicles will take longer than people expect, and that a multipronged approach embracing hybrids and alternate fuels will be better for the environment and the auto industry. That’s drawn criticism and fueled concerns that Toyota is giving Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc., China’s BYD Co. and other battery-EV rivals an unsurmountable lead.