A couple weeks ago, EcoGeek blogged about how NRDC was getting a bit perturbed about Toyota fighting intelligent mileage legislation. Well, this morning I got several emails from individuals and organizations with titles like "Toyota: Moving Backward" and "The Truth About Toyota."
Well...it looks like the backlash has begun. Toyota, you made yourself into a green brand, and now you either have to live up to your shiny new image, or get pwned.
Environmental orgs are actually quite good a pwning big corporations (no matter what they'd have you believe.) Already, there's a broad coaltion set up working together at "TruthAboutToyota.com." NRDC, National Environmenta Trust, Union of Conserned Scientists, League of Conservation Voters are all very angry at Toyota right now. Thomas Friedman even got in on the game with an column entitled "Et Tu Toyota?"
So, here's the story. Right now, there are two bills in Congress that propose to increase fuel economy. One says 35 mpg by 2020, the other says 32 mpg by 2022. Toyota (along with Ford, GM and Chrysler) is endorsing the second one. GM's VP, the ever-talkative Bob Lutz, says that the first target is physically impossible. Talking to Bob Lutz about 35 MPG is like talking to a physicist about perpetual motion. It simply can't be done.
But Toyota? Why? It seems like this would give them an advantage, since they already have a much higher fleet efficiency than the Detroit Three. Autopia supposes it might be in order to help Detroit kill itself with ever-bigger, ever-lamer cars, but NRDC is probably more on the mark when they say, "Toyota wants to keep its green halo and beat G.M. in the big trucks, too." You might think you see a lot of Priuses on the road these days, but Toyota actually sells more 17mpg Tundras than 50 mpg Priuses.
Auto Week, on the other hand, implies that Toyota America wants to be included in the Detroit brotherhood, so they're willing to go along with whatever Ford and GM say. Toyota, of course, just says that the "bar can be set too high." What they mean is that "the bar can be set too high for maximum profits." That's all there is to it.
The higher CAFE standard would force Toyota to lose some profit, and that's not what business is about. But it's also possible that tarnishing their green image might cost them a lot more than dealing with higher fuel economy standards. At least, I hope so.
Already, Toyota has received tens of thousands of letters from angry consumers. I hope EcoGeek can contribute somewhat to that. Innovation isn't the end of profits Toyota...you know that better than anyone.
If you're pissed off like am that they're fighting against efficiency, go to TruthAboutToyota.com and take action.
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