The automaker says the technology for all-electric cars, which require no gasoline and which work on batteries that are recharged at a sort of plug-in station, is not yet at a place where it wants to try them out. Other people say Toyota is underestimating where the technology is now and where it will be very soon. I'll leave that discussion to the experts.
But, just as a note to Hiroko Tabuchi, the article's author. There are several places where Ms. Tabuchi says people who back all-electric vehicles prefer them to the hybrids that Toyota offers because even the hybrids use some gasoline to supplement the electric motors that run them at lower speeds. Because of their gasoline use, even hybrids "emit carbon." In fact, she says "emit carbon" twice. So the "environmental imperative" would suggest phasing out these carbon emitters for a set of wheels that puts out less carbon.
I may not have gotten a great grade in high school chemistry, but even I know that internal combustion engines do not emit carbon among their many exhaust gases. Carbon, in fact, does not boil and become a gas that can be emitted until temperatures reach 4,800° Celsius (8,600° Fahrenheit). It doesn't even melt until 3,600° C (6,500° F), long after just about any engine made would have turned into a puddle of slag. Carbon has the highest melting point of any naturally-occurring element, and is in the top ten in highest boiling points. It's mixed with other elements to strengthen them and provide materials that survive hotter temperatures. Carbon mixed with iron, for example, helps make steel.
Internal combustion engines do emit carbon dioxide, a gas made up of carbon and oxygen, which figures heavily in man-made global warming scenarios. But as any plant would tell you if it could, carbon and carbon dioxide are not the same thing. Maybe this is a quibble, but one would expect a business and economics writer for the New York Times to get basic, look-em-up-in-an-encyclopedia facts like the difference between carbon and carbon dioxide right, wouldn't one?