The Toyota Technique: Talking Out of Both Sides of Your Mouth

Toyota, the world's new number one automaker has been winning praise far and wide for the fuel efficiency of its fleet. And Toyota Vice President Josephine Cooper said in a recent TV interview that “Toyota has long supported increasing fuel economy standards for vehicles, which means increasing CAFE [Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency] standards.”

This would be noble if it were true.

But even while overtaking GM by building smarter cars, Toyota has been standing shoulder to shoulder with the automotive dinosaurs in the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, fighting a 2004 State of California regulation calling for a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks by 2016.

Another Toyota representative, Chief Environmental Engineer Dave Hemance, is more forthright in setting out Toyota's real position: “All the historic market data says fuel efficiency is not high up on people's list of reasons to buy a vehicle.”

Until Toyota and the rest of the auotmakers represented in the California suit drop the case, there will always remain a very wide berth between the green PR talking points offered up by automakers and the fact that they are fighting greenhouse gas regulations all the way.

Ford spokester, Kermit the Frog, may be right that “It's not easy being green.” Then again, we'll never know unless the automakers don't give it a try.