Toyota Must be in Trouble: Now Peddling Quack Engine Sounds

By Paul Gipe

I’ve been wondering about the competence of Toyota’s management for some time. Their hesitancy if not downright opposition toward EVs is mind boggling. Their insistence that hydrogen vehicles have a future and are even superior to EVs is nonsensical. Then they field an “EV” that one reviewer—bending over backward to give Toyota the benefit of the doubt—concluded it was an “EV for Prius drivers.”

If you don’t remember, the wheels fell off that EV. Yes, the wheels. Wheels remain pretty basic to the functioning of an automobile.

Then last week, Toyota announced that it was investing $50 million in a new battery lab in Michigan, possibly assuming an unsuspecting media would take that as a major investment. That’s million with an “m”. The graphic with the press release was lame as well. One EV influencer said the graphic looked like it was done on Windows 95. Ouch!

In April this year, Hyundai announced it was building a $5 billion new EV plant in Georgia. That’s billion with “b”!

Those of us who follow EVs skip right over announcements that don’t have that “b” in it and go on to something newsworthy.

But the worst came 13 June when the Wall Street Journal ran this piece: Toyota EV Mimics Manual Transmission With Feel of Gear Shifts, Roaring Engine. The WSJ, not known for its insight into EVs, called Toyota’s development its  “latest engineering feat” probably taking the statement directly from the press release.

First, it’s not original, no matter what the WSJ thinks. Porche’s Taycan and Tesla’s Model 3 can all add fake engine sounds. I believe BMW was researching this about a decade ago for their i3 EV and before that Fisker’s Karma had fake engine sounds. It’s not only not new, it’s old.

Second, it’s just dumb. The wonder of an EV is how quiet it is. You don’t need fake sounds to make EVs fun. They’re fun—even if they’re quiet.

If Toyota thinks something like this will make their cars preferable over far superior EVs, they’re in much deeper trouble than many imagine.

If they don’t get their act together, Toyota is headed for the scrap heap.