In a classic display of corporate cynicism, Toyota fights stronger emission standards in U.S.

Wed, 2007-10-03 13:09Bill Miller
Bill Miller's picture

In a classic display of corporate cynicism, Toyota fights stronger emission standards in U.S.

As the U.S. Congress debates the first substantial fuel-economy boost in decades for automakers, Toyota has joined Detroit in the fight to sustain the practices that have imperiled the planet and driven American car manufacturers to the brink of bankruptcy.

Why would the industry leader in fuel-efficient cars take such a reckless path amid growing awareness of global warming? Because there’s a lot more money to be made if Toyota can slow innovation in Detroit and sustain gas-guzzling.

Just because Toyota, which overtook General Motors last year as the world’s biggest automaker, has been lobbying against higher U.S. standards doesn’t mean it intends to launch a new fleet of gas guzzlers. It just knows that Detroit’s failure to sell more energy-efficient vehicles has led to its brush with bankruptcy. Also, innovation would make them stronger competitors

Toyota and other automakers, backed by most Michigan politicians, are lobbying to kill a Senate bill calling for a 35 miles-per-gallon standard by 2020. The current standard has been frozen at 27.5 miles per gallon since 1985. The automakers want an ambiguous 32 to 35 miles per gallon hike by 2022.

But Japan, where Toyota has its headquarters, and Europe already have much better mileage standards than the U.S. Both have vehicles that could meet the U.S. goal for 2020 today, and they are committed to increasing their standards toward 40 m.p.g. and above in the coming decade. So Toyota, in effect, is lobbying to keep U.S. standards — in 2022 — well behind what Japan’s will be.

Toyota's clearly acting in its own interest, something most corporations are very good at. It's time for U.S. automakers to smarten up. Ditto their lick-spittle political lackeys in Motown.

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Previous Comments

That’s one of the sleaziest things I’ve read for awhile, and pretty sad, too, that GM, Ford, et al don’t see that their corporate lives depend on out-stripping the imports.

“Toyota’s clearly acting in its own interest, something most corporations are very good at.”

Corporations should act in their own interest; why is this a surprise?

Time for consumers to step up to the plate and reduce their consumptive lifestyles instead of endlessly blaming government and business. Radical thought, eh?

Regards,
Paul S

Time to pressure government to regulate business and industry for the good of the people the government is elected to serve.

What are you yourself doing to reduce your lifestyle, Paul S?

You know I was thinking. Arguments that government should do nothing and people are to do everything are fairly weak and unrealistic. While but no means do I disagree with the notion that individuals need to step up to the plate, the role of the government shouldn’t be underestimated in its importance. Governments regulate many aspects of a country to ensure (with hope) that the best interests of their citizens are being looked after. This is no exception, government and individuals need to step up.

I have no plans to reduce my lifestyle VJ. How about you?

It doesn’t have to be a net reduction in quality of life. Often it just means making more responsible choices. Why NOT buy clean energy if it’s available? Why NOT get some fresh air & exercise by walking to the corner store? Using the “park & ride” actually saves money, and reduces the stress of dealing with traffic congestion. Planting a small veg garden can be very rewarding, and it gives me something to do with the compostables rather than putting them in the landfill. It also means less grass to cut, and my rechargeable electric mower is quieter and doesn’t stink. My laundry smells great fresh off the clothes line, and I have never looked back since installing a woodstove as my heat source. The changes I have made have almost without exception enhanced my life, not restricted it. Any increase in expense (not significant so far) I consider a small price to pay in the bigger picture.

Go ahead, Paul. Dig in your heels and refuse to see anything positive in making changes that will be better for the environment. I choose to see it as an improvement in my lifestyle.

Femack, I’ve dug in my heels because I have always lived a frugal lifestyle. I do, however, refuse to jump on the enviro-evangelical bandwagon.

On a regular basis, I will walk 10 kilometers to downtown and 10 kilometers back when going to work instead of using the bus or car. I don’t do it for the environment, I do it for myself.

I will also be replacing my furnace with a super-efficient model; again, not for the environment, but because it will save me money in the long run. My prgrammable thermostat will only add to the savings.

I do however, staunchly refuse to use compact fluorescent light bulbs in my place. The quality of the light and the amount of glare they produce is horrendous.

I consider it positive when people do make changes as in your case, unfortunately, most “enviros” I come into contact with are mainly angry with government and business and do not apply the same standards they want of others to themselves.

That you haven’t met “enviros” who walk the walk! I won’t ask anyone to do something that I am unwilling to do myself, and I believe that the best way to convince people is not to argue with them, but to demonstrate what is possible. Providing an example is how I “act locally”.

“Thinking globally” is where governments and multinationals come in to the picture, and they have to be made accountable as well. Ford isn’t going to make more fuel efficient cars unless GM is required to do so as well. It’s called a level playing field, and unless someone regulates it, these guys are just not going to do it themselves. Leaving them to realize it’s in their best interests would be like watching the Titanic trying to turn around, and frankly we haven’t got the time.

I don’t like the light from compact fluorescents either, but I am switching over and putting pressure on manufacturers to DO SOMETHING about the dreadful hue they impart. Wasting energy on incandescents isn’t justified in my view.

BTW, it’s spelled “kilometres” in Canada.

Most people who consider themselves “enviros” don’t walk the walk, and therein lies the problem in Canada. If one was to believe opinion polls, the majority of Canadians want firm action on AGW but then go back to building that bigger house, booking that annual Mexican vacation, and ogling the newest Lexus models. I don’t fault them, nor try to change them, but I am absolutely unconvinced the majority of Canadians truly and seriously want serious action on GW at this time.

On vehicles, heavy gas taxes are the only way to go if you really want the public to drive efficient vehicles. That’s why Japanese and European mileage standards are so high.

“the majority of Canadians want firm action on AGW but then go back to building that bigger house, booking that annual Mexican vacation, and ogling the newest Lexus models.”

1. I don’t personally know ANY Canadians currently building bigger houses, going annually to Mexico for vacations and ogling Lexus cars. Perhaps your generalization makes it easier for you to ignore your …

2. Personal responsibilities. Just because something CAN be done and others are doing it, doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do. This is a lesson many learn as they grow up. (As with the national level: just because Canada produces less total emissions than China, doesn’t mean we should forsake mitigation.)

Paul S/G said: “On a regular basis, I will walk 10 kilometers to downtown and 10 kilometers back when going to work instead of using the bus or car”.

See my comment in the “Bjorn Lomborg - the ‘Polyanna of Global Warming’ ” thread.

Ian Forrester

At an average walking pace of about 3.5 - 5.5 km per hour, depending on vigor and health most likely, he’s doing approx 4-5 hours of walking combined to and from work. Thats impressive and definitely healthy, take that up to joging pace of 10 km per hour and it would only be a 2 hour trip or so.

I cover about 6 kms an hour. It’s brisk but not difficult. It helps that my route is nice and flat. Don’t tell Ian though, he believes bipedal motion over 4 km an hour is a scientific impossibility. ;)

Jogging to work would be nice but unfortunately no showers are available.

I don’t know how far, but it takes me exactly 55 mins, so I would calculate that it’s around 4-5 km. An hour spent walking is much preferable to half an hour on the subway–you get the same result, but with the benefit of getting 55 min exercise for a cost of only 25 min out of my day. And, I’m never late due to delays, missed connections, etc. I recommend it for anyone who can.

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Are by law an individual – a citizen. To think that they’re merely profit making machines is incorrect – like everyone else in society there’s a balance struck between money made and responsibility to the society from which you made that money. 

Most corporations are good, just like most citizens are good.

But back to mileage standards. Raising mileage standards is not effective in reducing fuel usage. The more efficient a vehicle is, the less expensive it is to drive and operate.

Europe and Japan have better mileage standards because they have much higher fuel costs.

Targeting corporations to increase their fuel standards is not the right policy choice anymore. State of the art fuel efficient vehicles are widely available already.

The tax code, by greatly increasing the cost of fuel, would force more consumers to buy these vehicles. Tax credits also could encourage consumer purchases of these vehicles.

And why isn’t the US doing this? Because the backlash from citizens would be ferocious. Easier, though less effective, to badger the corporations.

but a group of citizens acting together face an entirely different set of dynamics. Take “mob mentality”. Or, an extreme and not-morally-equivalent case: most citizens of Germany, c1939-45, were doing “good” things: taking care of their families, and supporting their country (and co-citizens) in a time of great peril. Most of the people I’ve worked with see their 9-5 life as largely separate from their normal, ethical, home life. They rarely question what their employer does, nor do they really bother to see the bigger picture. They can be good and ethical toward their co-workers, and their families and friends, but this would have very little impact on the workings of their corporation as a whole.

Back to cars. The reason why much higher fuel prices have not resulted in much less driving–price inelasticity–is that people’s driving behaviour is inelastic. Their driving patterns are dependent upon where they live, and so can’t easily be altered.

Also, it’s empirically obvious that (many) people’s attitudes toward their cars–as a status identifier, aparently–is also inelastic. They’d rather keep their SUVs and protest high gas prices, than to make the relatively easy switch to a lower-fuel vehicle.

It must be noted that, after several years of high gas prices, some people are switching vehicles…but not that many. So in the context of unchanging driving behaviour, improved mileage standards would be effective.

Another way of looking at it: whenever gas prices climb, drivers demand the government intervene–not intelligent market behaviour (fuel taxes are generally static–it’s the rising price of oil that creates gasoline price increases). So there’s a case to be made for the government protecting people from a hazard–the volatile price of oil–that they aren’t willing or able to protect themselves from.

Working for a corporation is ethical DEW, why wouldn’t it be? What any employer “does” is provide a service or product to someone. Corporations wages, taxes, etc., and contribute to the common good. Not a difficult concept to understand.

Regarding cars, forcing manufacturers to improve their overall fleet mileage standards is the wrong approach. Much higher gas prices, say $2 a liter, would force many people to buy smaller, more efficient vehicles which are already available. Going after vehicle manufacturers is the wrong approach in this instance.

Corporations are greedy immoral psychotics who are often willing to produce products which kill people if it makes them money; look at the tobacco companies. Go after the manufacturers and make them adhere to higher standards. Gas prices will go up anyway.

Since gas prices will go up anyway, there’s no need for government meddling.

Thanks for clearing that up.

the fact that corporations, while legally “citizens”, are able to use their supposed economic importance to get special treament under the law. It’s called corporate welfare and true conservatives are dead-set against it, but it happens all the time. Systematically, especially under conservative governments.

Is it ethical to treat some “citizens” differently than others?

When people, working for a corporation that produces a valuable product like paper, use a process that introduces mercury into the food chain of a downstream community without them knowning, resulting in birth defects in that community, is that ethical?

Is it ethical to pursue short-term, personal gain regardless of long-term consequences, or the consequneces to people not involved in the immediate transaction? Is it not possible that people working as a cog in a corporation would reasonably find it difficult or be pressured to not see the wider consequences of their company’s pursuit of immediate gain?

When you reduce reality to oversimplified concepts then no, they’re not difficult to understand. But that wouldn’t reflect the whole *reality*, which often is diificult to understand.

Corporations are a good, and a public good at that DEW. A few bad corporate apples don’t change that.

Corporations must not only pursue immediate gain, they must purse long term strategy; it is a matter of survival.
As individuals, we operate in the exact same way.

Why are people who work for corps called “cogs”? Nobody is a cog. Are you a “cog” simply because you are one of 30 million Canadians?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Corporation#The_Pathology_of_Commerce

“…The Pathology of Commerce

Dr. Robert Hare, a consultant to the FBI on psychopaths, draws parallels between a psychopath and the modern corporation. His findings corroborate the following behavior:

* Callous unconcern for the feelings of others
* Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships
* Reckless disregard for the safety of others
* Deceitfulness: Repeated lying to and deceiving of others for profit
* Incapacity to experience guilt
* Failure to conform to the social norms with respect to lawful behaviors…” http://www.thecorporation.com/

Who cares what Dr. Robert Hare says? He’s an idiot.

Prove it.

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Are corporations not merely the servants of the citizens that work for them, own them and who buy their goods?

Shareholders want profits, consumers (unfortunately) want large cars. That’s the issue. We need to change people’s minds about the basic assumption that big is good. http://www.talkclimatechange.com

… then you need to start making a compelling argument.

Clearly, so far nobody has.

… you need a larger advertising budget than the auto sector, which includes manufacturers, dealers, parts retailers, etc. Zoom, zoom, zoom.

…if a little off topic:
http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2007/planet.in.peril/

I got to that page by a link from the main cnn.com page – it’s in a box down around the middle headed “Earth’s Issues” and sponsored by ConocoPhillips.

If Toyota won’t take the lead and set a new industry standard, then we, as citizens must lobby for a clean energy bill.

Toyota has the technology to achieve 55mpg today. That Toyota refuses to support the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard of 35 mpg by 2020 is lame. Perhaps their’s is a long-term strategy of waiting for the U.S. auto industry to crumble due to it’s failure to innovate and meet average real world mileage of 46.8 mpg?

New fuel efficiency standards will help free us from dependency on foreign oil, reducing oil imports by 1.2 million barrels of oil per day by 2020, in addition to saving Americans $25 billion in gas costs, AND making a huge reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (200 million tons each year).

I’m supporting a coalition that’s pushing Congress to adopt a strong clean Energy Bill this fall. Please sign this petition: http://www.energybill2007.org

Lorna, that link didn’t work. Let me try this, www.energybill2007.org – does that work?

My 1967 Volvo 122S had 140 HP and got 35 m.p.g. on the highway and 28 in the city [without any of the new technology available to increase efficiency].

Even the original Model T Ford got 35MPG [yes, a bit slow, but that was in the 1920s!]

China allready has regulations that demand 50 mpg hwy and 35 city - and all vehicles sold there have that standard.

Do what I did since 1980 - refuse to buy a new vehicle until they produce a reasonable one that gets higher mileage. There are electric cars now… Zenn just got it’s federal approval, and the Tesla Roadster is taking orders. There is no excuse for people to be buying gas guzzlers.

this bonus ;)

It would be necessary for Toyota to follow the standards in producing cars. This is one of the most important things to prioritize for them to attain the standard in measuring the amount of harmful gasses in the air, also this is a good thing in eradicating the global warming that is covering the entire globe. Automakers are in trouble the world over.  It isn’t just American automakers like GM and Chrysler that are asking for a bailout.  Saab, Opel, and many brands the world over are asking for payday loans from their respective governments, but its GM that gets a lot of headlines.  The latest headlines are how Obama is turning them down for their requested bailout money.  He has refused further aid to the ailing auto firms, after they were given large sums of money to keep them afloat.

I would have to agree with you, eventhough Toyota is the number one car manufacturer in the world right now, I believe that they still have to follow the standards in producing cars and auto accessories. If they plan to stay in the number one spot, they have to follow the world standards. It’s as simple as that.

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