Toyota seems to be doing everything possible to become known as one of the most despicable corporations on the face of the Earth. Last month it was revealed that it was the largest corporate contributor to members of Congress who voted against certifying the result of the last election. When it was called out for doing that, Toyota attempted to put up some lame defense before finally backing down. Does it disturb you that a Japanese corporation is funding an insurrection against the the US government? It does me.
Now, the New York Times reveals Toyota is lobbying hard to sidetrack President Biden’s electric car and climate change initiatives. It says a top Toyota executive has been scurrying off to Washington for closed-door sessions with various members of Congress, urging them to water down the administration’s policies for electric car charging stations, EV incentives, and tailpipe emissions. Instead, the lobbyist, Chris Reynolds has been pushing for more time to get the company’s long-delayed hydrogen fuel cell car program off the ground and to enact policies that favor more hybrid automobiles, which Toyota likes to call “self charging electric cars.”
Now, let me ask you a question. Do you get to sit down privately with senators and congresspersons? And if not, why not? Aren’t we the people the holders of the sovereign power of the United States? And if so, what in the name of George Washington is some shill for a foreign company doing talking to anyone in Congress? If that isn’t corruption, it’s hard to think what would be. Although, this is precisely the kind of “government for hire” created by the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Thank you, John Roberts, for helping destroy American democracy with the full support of the judicial branch.
“Toyota has gone from a leading position to an industry laggard” in clean-car policy even as other automakers push ahead with ambitious electric vehicle plans, Danny Magill, an analyst at InfluenceMap tells the New York Times. It is a London based think tank that tracks corporate climate lobbying and it gives Toyota a “D-” grade, the worst among automakers, saying it exerts policy influence to undermine public climate goals.
Not only is Toyota trying to stall the transition to electric cars in America, it is doing the same thing in the UK and in India, the Times says. “They really were on the right path, especially with the introduction of the Prius, and they still talk about climate change,” said Margo T. Oge, former director of the EPA’s Office of Transportation Air Quality. “But they’re fighting policies for electric vehicles across the globe, and that’s hurting the effort of policymakers in setting any ambitious measures.”
Toyota’s Hydrogen Fuel Cell Dream Is Madness
Toyota’s dream of hydrogen-powered cars has been a dismal failure. Since it introduced the Mirai in 2014, it has sold a paltry 11,000 of them worldwide. And do you see Toyota building a network of hydrogen fueling stations to support its dream the way Tesla built its Supercharger network?
No, you bet your sweet bibby you don’t. It is sitting back expecting others to do the heavy lifting while the world continues to overheat. Many scientists and other experts say that hydrogen technology is more suited for long-haul trucks or for use in energy-intensive industries like steel manufacturing.
“I think hydrogen holds promise, but it’s at least a decade behind batteries right now,” said David Friedman, vice president of advocacy at Consumer Reports and former acting administrator of NHTSA. “And Toyota is saying, ‘No, we’ve got to hold off, we’ve got to wait till they’re ready with hydrogen.’ But the climate can’t wait (emphasis added).”
Toyota brags about all the hybrids it has sold, but that is last-century technology. As it has pushed ever larger SUVs and trucks into its product mix — vehicles that have high profit margins — it has gone from being one of the leaders in fuel economy to one of the worst polluters, near the bottom of the EPA ratings along with General Motors and Ford.
“Toyota followed G.M. and other American automakers to produce gas-guzzling pickups and S.U.V.s in large numbers,” says Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Transport Campaign at the Center for Biological Diversity.
Opposition To Emissions Rules
The Biden administration is proposing new exhaust emissions rules intended to help the US to transition to 40% electric cars by 2030, and cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least half by that date.
The Associated Press reports the proposed rules would begin with the 2023 car model year, applying California’s 2019 framework agreement on emissions standards reached with Ford, Volkswagen, Honda, BMW and Volvo. The California deal increases the mileage standard and cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 3.7% per year.
Requirements ramp up in 2025 to Obama-era levels of a 5% annual increase in the mileage standard and a similar cut in emissions. Then they ramp up more beginning in 2026 to require at least a 6% improvement every year thereafter.
Toyota’s Chris Reynolds is also the head of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, an industry lobby group that has been lobbying Congress to water down the proposed rules. It argues its standards cannot be met by some of its members according to two people with direct knowledge of the discussions.
What’s To Be Done?
If you are disgusted by Toyota’s cowardly, sneaking-up-the-back-stairs approach — and why wouldn’t you be? — what can you do about it? Your congressional representatives won’t take your phone call. The courts couldn’t care less about your complaints, even if you have enough money to hire a high-powered lawyer. Akio Toyoda throws your letters straight into the round file underneath his desk. So, what can you do?
The answer is simple. Don’t buy or lease a Toyota. Send a letter to the general manager of your nearest Toyota dealer explaining why your smiling face will not be gracing the showroom any time soon and why. Tell your friends, families, and co-workers you refuse to do business with Toyota and explain your reasons.
We don’t advise doing anything that might get you noticed by the local constabulary, like standing in the middle of a Toyota showroom on a busy Saturday chanting, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.” The only thing that will get the attention of Toyoda-san’s and his evil minions is declining sales. We can do this, people. Hurt them in the wallet. It’s every consumer’s right and duty to refuse to do business with charlatans.