With a billion people in the world living without electricity, limiting their choice and ability to travel by making expensive cars is not the answer, said Toyoda, who is the grandson of the automaker’s founder. According to him, customers should decide, and not regulation or politics.

Toyota is pushing back against criticism that it is lagging behind in the transition to electric cars. It defends itself by saying that its pioneering hybrid drives, hydrogen technology and holistic approach will eventually prove to be the right concept for the business, customers and the environment. Earlier this month, Toyoda announced an initiative to develop new internal combustion engines.

“The engines will definitely stay,” said Toyoda. But it is not clear whether he meant the sale of new cars or cars that are already on the road.

By 2040, electric cars will make up 75 percent of new cars sold and 44 percent of passenger vehicles on the road, according to a forecast by consulting firm BloombergNEF.

Toyoda has been advocating a “multi-path approach” for years. They argue that customers should be able to choose any drivetrain that suits their needs. According to him, the transition to electric cars will not be as fast as many think.