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Toyota’s Stance On Fuel Efficiency Standards: Hybrid or Hypocritical?

Toyota Takes Over GM's #1 Sales Spot. Taking Over GM's Anti-Environmental Policy Agenda, Too?

Toyota, whose hybrid Prius and superior fleet-wide fuel economy (better than any US automaker) has made it the darling of the environmental movement, has taken a hit recently with its decision to join the Detroit automakers in lobbying against a proposed hike in Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) standards. The proposed change would set standards for all passenger vehicles at 35 mpg by 2020.

The automakers are fighting to have 2 extra years to reach a goal of 32 mpg.

The National Environmental Trust organized a protest over Toyota's stance in Portland, OR, on October 12th. Better World Club President Mitch Rofsky opened his remarks by saying, "This may be the friendliest demonstration in U.S. history. The people gathering here are not opponents of Toyota. We're their customers. We're just feeling the kind of disappointment that a parent feels when they learn that their child has been misbehaving."

In a statement, Toyota noted that the "requirements specified by these proposed measures are beyond what is possible" and that "the technology to meet such stringent standards by 2020 does not exist."

This argument does not ring true; especially considering Toyota currently complies with fuel efficiency standards in Japan and Europe that are already higher than 35 mpg.

Neither Honda nor Nissan believe that attaining 35-mpg CAFE standards is impossible, so why is Toyota balking?

Toyota recently became the biggest selling automaker in the world. "Just because Toyota is taking over General Motor's market share does not mean that Toyota has to take on GM's anti-environmental lobbying practices," said Brendan Bell, Washington Representative for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

We encourage our readers to Drive Change by contacting Shigeru Hayakawa, Toyota's chairman and chief executive, and let him know that you want Toyota to support the 35-mpg standard.