While most automakers accelerate their transitions to EVs, Toyota is taking a contrarian approach by developing a new internal combustion engine. The goal, according to CEO Akio Toyoda, is preserving elements that “dyed-in-the-wool car fans crave” like engine smells and sounds.
Yes, you read that correctly – Toyota’s CEO wants to maintain nostalgic smells associated with gas vehicles. This odd justification comes as Toyoda confirmed rumors of a new ICE project within Toyota.
Details remain scant on the engine itself and what models it may power. But Toyoda made clear this move is aimed at EV skeptics who’ll miss the sensory experience and feelings of traditional cars.
On one hand, you have to appreciate Toyota’s willingness to buck the industry trend toward 100% electrification. The company has a lengthy history of supporting hybrids and hydrogen along with EVs. Preserving ICE engineering talent and production is also admirable.
However, using subjective aspects like smells and sounds as reasons seems questionable. Performance and driving dynamics are more defensible angles. Will the average consumer truly care if an electric Toyota lacks an engine aroma?
Additionally, chasing feelings of nostalgia is risky in such a future-focused industry. Even if Toyota perfects a clean, efficient gas engine, the clock is ticking on ICE relevance.
Toyota’s unconventional path on EVs has drawn criticism before. But they are still the hybrid pioneers and a juggernaut, so never count them out. Perhaps this eccentric ICE project will surprise us.
Still, highlighting sensory experiences like smells comes across oddly out of touch. Toyota should play to the strengths of new tech, not cling to the past.
What do you think? Does Toyota’s focus on preserving smells and feels for ICE hold merit? Or are they chasing feelings that won’t matter in an electrified market? Follow us, share your thoughts!