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Toyota's Environmental Image Challenged

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Toyota's Environmental Image Challenged

Never mind that the Toyota Prius is popular with environmentally conscious motorists -- some environmentalists still wonder if Toyota is living up to its image as a green automaker.

Environmental groups, led by the Natural Resources Defense Council, are challenging Toyota Motor Corp.'s opposition to strict fuel economy standards pending in Congress, a position the Japanese company shares with General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC.

During the past two weeks, about 8,300 NRDC activists sent e-mails and faxes to Toyota urging the company to support a Senate energy bill that would set a 35-mile-per-gallon requirement by 2020.

Other environmental groups, such as the Union of Concerned Scientists and the National Environmental Trust, are mobilizing to challenge Toyota for supporting a more modest approach on so-called CAFE standards that would require 32 to 35 mpg by 2022.

"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 Deron Lovaas, the NRDC's vehicles campaign director.

Toyota contends the Senate bill would hurt the industry and notes that the alternative still would raise the standards up to 40 percent and give automakers more time to meet the goals. The company said it would respond to the messages it receives.

"For the first time, the industry has actually come together for a fuel economy increase, and everyone is pulling together in the same direction," Toyota spokeswoman Martha Voss said Wednesday. "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."

Toyota, along with Honda Motor Co., has been a front-runner in producing fuel-efficient vehicles while emphasizing its hybrid technology. In addition to the popular gas-electric hybrid Prius, Toyota offers several hybrid models, including the hybrid Camry and hybrid Lexus models.

But the campaign underscores some discontent with the company in the environmental community, many of whom drive Prius hybrids. Toyota is challenging GM as the world's biggest automaker and has aggressively promoted the Tundra pickup in the lucrative large truck segment.

"They market every night the Prius and the Toyota Camry -- we're the green car, huh? Then watch the football games, and they're marketing the Toyota Tundra -- like the biggest vehicle ever made," Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., a Camry hybrid owner, said Wednesday in a speech at an environmental conference.

"We're actually going to name the vehicle the Tundra, after the thing that's being destroyed in Alaska," he said. "How ironic."

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LMAO.

i love the bad pub for toyota but i actually think at the same time that those greenies, i am getting sick and tired of their schtick. maybe toyota is too.

i ended up getting sucked into a conv about global warming today. my first comment was, 'well, has it even been proven for fact yet'?

you should see the eye daggers. the enviroweenies cannot be challenged or reasoned with. did these dumb ass environwhackos actually think toyota had gone green because of principles? do they really think toyota will change every car in their lineup to a fuel sipping hybrid?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHa.

no, idiots, its about profit

Edited by regfootball
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LMAO.

i love the bad pub for toyota but i actually think at the same time that those greenies, i am getting sick and tired of their schtick. maybe toyota is too.

i ended up getting sucked into a conv about global warming today. my first comment was, 'well, has it even been proven for fact yet'?

you should see the eye daggers. the enviroweenies cannot be challenged or reasoned with. did these dumb ass environwhackos actually think toyota had gone green because of principles? do they really think toyota will change every car in their lineup to a fuel sipping hybrid?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHa.

no, idiots, its about profit

You, my friend, cannot be reasoned with. :lol:

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LMAO.

i love the bad pub for toyota but i actually think at the same time that those greenies, i am getting sick and tired of their schtick. maybe toyota is too.

i ended up getting sucked into a conv about global warming today. my first comment was, 'well, has it even been proven for fact yet'?

you should see the eye daggers. the enviroweenies cannot be challenged or reasoned with. did these dumb ass environwhackos actually think toyota had gone green because of principles? do they really think toyota will change every car in their lineup to a fuel sipping hybrid?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHa.

no, idiots, its about profit

well global warming is a fact of life... regaurdless of automobiles green house emissions and other things...

we can impose everything we could on automanufactures... hell even ban them globally... and it would just delay global warming by about 5 years...

it comes ever so often, not sure on the time table... but, after global warming starts to really take a tole on the world, it adversely switches, to an ice age... then goes back to normal... for a few hundred thousand years

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While researching how to make Julie's Mercedes a vegetarian I happened upon a blog

where some hippie girl was saying she sold her Prius to buy a MB diesel so she could

convert it to run on on WVO and therefore WALK the WALK, ulike her Toyota which she

had realised after her purchase was all green TALK and no action...

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While researching how to make Julie's Mercedes a vegetarian I happened upon a blog

where some hippie girl was saying she sold her Prius to buy a MB diesel so she could

convert it to run on on WVO and therefore WALK the WALK, ulike her Toyota which she

had realised after her purchase was all green TALK and no action...

haha nice...

i like to see hippies running vegtable oil in their desiels... they smell like french fries... but who cares... expecially when you can get free oil from resturants... (got to filter it first though)

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Christine Tierney

Mixed signals trip up Toyota

Toyota Motor Corp. took a drubbing this week from people who are normally fans -- American environmentalists who feel betrayed by the Japanese automaker's stance on U.S. mileage regulations.

Toyota, along with Detroit's Big Three, is lobbying against the toughest fuel-economy measures before Congress. But it was the only automaker singled out in attacks ranging from a congressman's rebuke to an environmental firm's reprimand and a blistering diatribe by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.

The Natural Resources Defense Council was incensed by what it viewed as Toyota's hypocrisy in "marketing itself as 'green' and producing its 55 mile per gallon Prius hybrid while lobbying Capitol Hill against strong fuel-economy legislation."

In his column, Friedman questioned Toyota's motives. Was the automaker pressing for easier norms to keep Detroit's automakers from developing more fuel-efficient cars?

"Hey, Toyota," he wrote, "If you are going to become the biggest U.S. automaker, could you at least bring to America your best practices -- the ones that made you the world leader -- instead of prolonging our worst practices?"

If it was odd to see eco-pundits sniping at Toyota, it was even odder to find GM rushing to its rival's defense.

"There is nothing sinister about Toyota -- or anyone else -- building trucks," GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson wrote on GM's FYI blog. "Even with gas at $3 per gallon, Americans are buying enough midsize and full-size trucks to account for 40 percent of the market."

The tough mileage proposal in a bill passed by the Senate requires a 40 percent improvement by 2020 and would hike automakers' engine-manufacturing costs by more than 30 percent, said analyst Philip Gott at research firm Global Insight. Even less stringent House proposals are still very costly for the industry.

Toyota officials, who were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the company's entry into the U.S. market, were stunned by all the controversy.

But they might as well get used to it. Toyota will come under increasing scrutiny now that it has passed GM to become the world's No. 1 automaker.

There's a natural tendency to go after the front-runner, but part of the backlash against Toyota also reflects some contradictions that the company hasn't publicly reconciled. Statements such as CEO Katsuaki Watanabe's declaration that his dream is to make a car that can cross the entire United States on a single tank of gas don't square with the automaker's recent launch of what it boasted was the baddest, brawniest truck on the market -- the redesigned Tundra pickup.

The reality is, Toyota lives in both worlds: It spends more than any other carmaker on research and development -- $23 million a day -- and is the leading seller of clean hybrid cars. But unlike Honda Motor Co., which specializes in fuel-efficient cars, Toyota is a full-line manufacturer whose offerings reflect consumer preferences in each of its markets. It sells Daihatsu minicars in Japan, hybrids and full-size pickups in the United States -- in short, whatever people are buying.

Honda doesn't offer a V-8 engine, not even in its premium Acura line. But Honda recently retired its Insight, the most fuel-efficient gas-electric car sold in the United States, because of weak demand.

"In order to fund the good things you do, you need to sell trucks as well," said Toyota spokeswoman Martha Voss.

But there are other contradictions that cloud the company's image. Toyota executives' claims that they are not striving for first place in the global market are undercut by the sight of a relentlessly aggressive company so intent on growth that it has permitted worrying slips in vehicle quality.

Advertising that promotes Toyota as an American company also rings false. Toyota has a big presence in the United States, where it has invested nearly $16 billion. But it is a company based in the Japanese heartland of Chubu, not what most people would consider an American corporation.

But it is increasingly a global company. And now that Toyota has risen to No. 1, the company needs to define itself more clearly -- or be defined by others.

You can reach Christine Tierney at (313) 222-1463 or ctierney@detnews.com.

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But it is increasingly a global company. And now that Toyota has risen to No. 1, the company needs to define itself more clearly -- or be defined by others.

why do people say toyota has passed GM... if i remember correctly, last year, GM sold more regaurdless of them claiming a companies sales that they didnt own more then 50% of...

but isnt GM on its way to being number 1 this year too?

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