Toyota has been riding high on a green cloud of
eco-friendliness with the American public since 2000. It was that year that
Toyota introduced the first
generation Prius. The tiny Echo-based compact sedan brought
gasoline-electric hybrids to the mainstream.
Over the past few years, Toyota has expanded its hybrid
portfolio and has seen its "green" image explode. Following the
release of the first generation Prius, Toyota introduced a larger, mid-sized
Prius hatchback in late 2003. Later, Toyota released a Highlander Hybrid SUV
and a Camry Hybrid.
While the Toyota brand has focused on using hybrids to
improve fuel economy, the Japanese auto giant's Lexus luxury division has been
using the Hybrid Synergy Drive
to boost performance. Increased fuel economy is still a benefit of Lexus
hybrids, but the RX 400h, GS 450h and LS 600h L market
the performance aspects of the additional electric motors.
Now, however, it appears that Toyota's honeymoon with
environmentalists may be coming to an end. In a move that has angered the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC),
Toyota decided to side with General Motors, Ford and Chrysler in opposing a
proposed Senate bill that would require a corporate average of 35 MPG by 2020.
"Why is Toyota, a company that can make a car that gets 55 miles per gallon today, fighting a 35 mpg
standard? If Toyota's "Moving Forward" motto is more than just empty
words, the company must support a sensible increase in fuel economy to
35 mpg by 2020," said the NRDC in a statement on its website.
Instead, Toyota is putting its support behind a bill
proposed by the House that would mandate targets of 32 MPG to 35 MPG by the
“They have a green halo, justifiably, and yet unbeknownst to
their customers they’ve joined forces with the Detroit Three to argue against
greener standards,” said NRDC vehicles campaign director Deron Lovaas.
Toyota contends that the Senate bill is too harsh on auto
manufacturers and will be tough to implement. “For the first time, the industry
has actually come together for a fuel economy increase, and everyone is pulling
together in the same direction,” said Toyota spokeswoman Martha Voss. “Toyota is
working very hard behind the scenes to achieve the best standards possible, not
only for the whole industry, but to meet the energy and environmental goals
that we all share.”
Considering that Toyota's lineup of cars already average
more than 32 MPG by federal regulations, many may wonder why Toyota would be
opposed to a measly 3 MPG increase by 2020. Toyota's concern comes from the
fact that the Senate bill would require a 35 MPG average from Toyota's entire
vehicle lineup -- that includes gas-guzzling pickups and SUVs.
Toyota's apprehension becomes even clearer when the new Tundra
full-size pickup truck comes into the picture. Toyota's Tundra has always
played second fiddle to the biggest and baddest from Detroit, but Toyota's
third attempt at the full-size market is starting to gain some traction.
The new Tundra packs a 381 HP V8 engine on its options sheet
and records fuel economy numbers of 14 MPG/18 MPG city/highway in 4x4 guise. The
problem is compounded by the fact that the previous generation moved a meager
124,508 units – Toyota is on track to break the 200,000 units sold mark for
2007 with the redesigned Tundra.
Toyota also announced
cheaper trim levels for the 2008 Tundra which will further drive sales and
lower the company’s fuel economy average. In addition, Toyota is looking to
drive its truck sales even further with a redesigned Land Cruiser, Lexus LX 570 and Sequoia
– all of which use the potent 5.7 liter
V8 engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
“They market every night the Prius and the Toyota Camry —
we’re the green car, huh,” remarked Representative Edward Markey
(Democrat-Massachusetts) who also happens to own a Camry Hybrid. “Then watch the football games, and they’re
marketing the Toyota Tundra — like the biggest vehicle ever made.”
“We’re actually going to name the vehicle the Tundra, after
the thing that’s being destroyed in Alaska. How ironic,” Markey continued.
There is still room for improvement on Toyota’s end,
however. The company is hard at work
on a diesel engine for the supersized Tundra and the company plans to implement hybrid
technology into all of its vehicles by 2020.
quote: Well, how about you increase the taxes on fuel until it reaches the price level we have in Europe?
quote: Bad thing is, there is a moronic "subculture" evolving that takes pride in driving cars that are guzzling as much fuel as possible. That way they can show off how wealthy they are. They've "made it to the top". Nice.
quote: The automakers are developing cars that get better gas mileage every year.
quote: No you can make gas more expensive genius.
quote: An architect who spoke at a recent energy conference I attended said something kinda disappointing. He said that the cost to build a new home meeting a very high standard of conservation (R2000) would cost no more than $8000 over a regular house and recoup this cost in energy savings over 8-10 years.
quote: He said that the cost to build a new home meeting a very high standard of conservation (R2000) would cost no more than $8000 over a regular house and recoup this cost in energy savings over 8-10 years. He said that very few people chose this option because people are only concerned with purchase price, not longterm costs.
quote: The housing boom is still going on here
quote: Best of luck on your planned home renovations! I hope Indiana offers rebates for your investment.
quote: > "it does not negate the fact that Americans and Canadians have the highest per capita use"Untrue. Check the list posted elsewhere in this thread.
quote: What else is irking me is the mix up of arguments and personal preferences. My favorite example: fuel efficiency. It is measured in MPG. If it is higher, the car is more fuel efficient. And that was that. All those factors like HP or weight, or towing capability, top speed, looks, convenience, safety, cleanliness, maintenance etc. do not belong here.
quote: Economy is about making money, creating and fulfilling a demand with as high a profit as possible. It's not about people. Governmental intervention is happening all the time whether we notice it or not.
quote: It is killing me that there are so many people out there that plainly deny the need to even waste a thought about that.
quote: It's not about people.
quote: The only reason we are being held back from "Cleaner" energy or more efficient devices is Greed. It is the number 1 cause for the raise in energy costs.
quote: What good is a flourishing economy and high living standard if it is maintained at all costs no matter what, even if the world goes to hell in the meantime? Do you really think constant growth will go on eternally? How will that be in 100 years? 60 ft long cars, weighing 30k lbs, 3000 HP? Houses that are 4 times as big as they are now? Everybody having a 100 ft yacht? Oh, and not only in the rich countries but worldwide? I don't think so.
quote: Just to play the Devil's advocate, the right wing politicians aren't any different, nor are the centrists, nor are the independents.
quote: If you think like that, nothing will change. No clean car, no clean energy. There has to be a public demand AND a powerful law to get that.
quote: Do you really think constant growth will go on eternally?
quote: 1987: 22.0 MPG, 2007: 20.2
quote: And even if you take the latter out of the equation, the improvement in fuel efficiency is meagre, isn't it?
quote: To make things worse, people drive more miles in their cars (I think) than 20 years ago.
quote: In short, it's pointless to have a few really efficient cars on the market if the majority is driving inefficient cars.
quote: But the roads *haven't* gotten more dangerous. They've gotten much safer. As another poster pointed out, total fatalities, accidents/mile driven, etc...all have declined considerably.
quote: It is a fact that driving an SUV is safer for the occupant but more harmful for the other driver in an accident or pedestrians.
quote: I suppose if someone can't pay for a safer sedan they should just accept that the roads have gotten more dangerous because of the increasing mass of other vehicles.
quote: Should we all drive around in increasingly large tanks?
quote: Both are safe and comfortable for a family of four.
quote: So what right do you have to attack and stereotype someone based on what they drive
quote: "You know why it isn't safe?Because of rednecks like yourself who have to take out a 6000lb monstrosity just to go to the mall. They drive like they own the road and act like they are invincible"
quote: Are you factoring in the fact that in 2006 over half of all vehicles sold in the US were trucks and SUVs compared to only about 30% in 1987?
quote: And no, these are not the new "adjusted" EPA numbers for 2007. IMO that's a load of crap, factoring in things like using the a/c, traffic, and temperature variations, as if those problems were non-existent 20 years ago. My dad still gets 28 mpg on the highway on road trips in his 2006 Corvette, and my sister still gets 21mpg on the highway in her 2005 Tahoe (both were downgraded to 24 mpg, and 17 mpg respectively with the new 2007 EPA calculation).
quote: But back to the topic. Not everyone wants to drive a sardine can. Some people have large families that just all won't fit into a cute little Prius. Other people rely on trucks and SUVs for the very food on their table and roof over their head: plumbers, electricians, and other general contractors.
quote: Also you cannot get three kid seats in one vehicle back seat in a safe manner. That means you must buy an SUV or minivan if you live in one of the states that requires all kids in a carseat until say 8 years old (INDIANA). So if you raise the price of gas, you punish the very people you are trying to "save", by lowering the quality of life of the children whose parents must pay for that gas.
quote: We should all take a little more personal accountability/responsibility in these matters.
quote: Now, from Nfarce's comments, I assume his Nissan is not his daily vehicle. But he will be the exception and not the norm.
quote: One way of looking at it is simply to ask people to pay their fair share of whatever they're doing. NOT taxing people who engage in behaviour that costs everyone is simply externalizing the costs.
quote: Why not tax gas guzzlers?
quote: Out of curiosity, however, what do you think about the issue of larger vehicles increasing the risk of harm to others in an accident?
quote: Good Question. At the time when US rates of SUV/Minivan/Large Truck usage increased, deaths and injuries in passenger cars actually decreased significantly.
quote: You seem to be crediting the fact that more people are driving SUV/Minivans/Large Trucks with the decrease of injuries in passenger cars?? That is highly unfair. What about safety features which have been becomingly more standard?
quote: Perhaps then it is simply an issue of adjusting this tax to achieve what society as a whole believes is in its best interests.
quote: One issue with the gas tax that some raise is that it isn't progressive
quote: Out of curiosity, however, what do you think about the issue of larger vehicles increasing the risk of harm to others in an accident?
quote: One thing that has struck me recently is that as a generalization I (and many Canadians) seem more weary of corporations' influences (e.g., car manufacturers) where many Americans seem weary of government influence. Fair enough.
quote: The largest source of automobile accidents isn't SUVs, its small two-door "sporty" coupes. By a rather large margin, in fact.
quote: There is no reason why we should use TWICE the energy per capita as other industrialized nations. It comes back to bite you in the ass when you have to send your children to war to secure that oil.
quote: I still don't get it anyway: in the US there are over 90 million commercial diesel vehicles. AFAIK you have special regulations that exempt light trucks from the passenger car (safety, emission and other) requirements. Is there a real reason why diesel engines are not in wide use?
quote: Yes, people in Germany need a "stern talking to" as well. I do often enough, when I have to decide whether I use the car to get some bread or go by bicycle. It's only half a mile... Probably many people in many western and advanced countries do. Why should people in the States be the one and only exception?
quote: In my opinion, anyone in the US who believes we need to discard the morals and beliefs of our founding fathers, needs to take a step back and think long & hard about what our "declaration of independance" really stands for.
quote: fascist attacks were usually a little bit different. .
quote: I am angry at myself that I wasted my time answering your comments, knowing it was futile all along.
quote: Without public transport the situation in Europe would be worse, but please, don't believe that we don't use our cars whenever we can...city or village, open country, it doesn't matter. Over here there are many areas where you basically need a car to get somewhere as well. And we are not a single bit better than Americans or Canadians, or..., and Germans love their cars more than their family (almost), the main difference is that (only because of the fuel price!) we have started thinking about efficient cars a few years earlier.
quote: wouldn't it be better to charge a fuel surtax to the consumer? the higher the consumptoin, the higher the extra tax.
quote: if the government simply mandates that manufacturers have to get a 35mpg average, then manufacturers will find ways to cheat and manipulate the EPA results. they will do simply what is "enough", but they won't actually get off their asses and make real improvements.
quote: The real way to alleviate gas and oil problems
quote: And even if gas was $100 a gallon, Americans would find the money.
quote: This won't be adopted on any scale here, and you know why?
quote: a good government can.
quote: Recall that once upon a time in this very country the stock market crashed and the government stepped in in a big way. It took a very active role in the economy, and started a lot of state run projects. They instituted policies you may even describe as socialist. And guess what... The country didn't fail.
quote: The New Deal, that is, was not about economic recovery, but about displacing business as the nation's predominant elite. FDR harked back to the founder of his party. In his 1832 veto of renewing the Bank's charter, Jackson complained that its profits went to foreigners and "a few hundred of our own citizens, chiefly of the richest class." Daniel Webster replied that the message "wantonly attacks whole classes of the people, for the purpose of turning against them the prejudices and the resentments of other classes." The tradition, of course, runs strong even today in the party of Jackson and Roosevelt.