Toyota says it doesn’t like the Democrat’s energy bill
When the energy bill that sets 35 mpg mileage standards was pending in the United States Senate, Toyota remained rather quiet, letting the Detroit Three and the UAW lead the lobbying effort against the legislation. Maybe they didn’t want to damage their “green” reputation, or maybe they miscalculated. Nissan undercut the other automakers by lobbying for the bill, and the Senate ended up adopting it.
Toyota has now apparently decided it has more to lose than to gain from the legislation. It’s decided to join the fight against the draconian fuel economy standards which the Senate’s Democrats, lead by Nevada’s Harry Reid and San Francisco’s Diane Feinstein, but followed in lock-step by weak Democrats, such as Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, who depend on the Senate leadership for throwing them legislative bones.
Here’s what Jim Lentz, the executive vice-president of Toyota Motor Sales, the United States branch of the company, had to say: We’ve faced regulatory threats before, but never the tidal wave heading our way."
One wonders what took him so long to figure that out. Was it the desire to preserve the public image of Toyota as environmentally friendly, while they do their level best to put as many big Tundra’s on the street as possible? To milk the good will the Prius has given them with the environmentalists?
Or was it just laziness, the expectation that Ford, GM, Chrysler, and the UAW would do their work for Toyota?
Whatever the reason, there’s apparently now a change in strategy.
Lentz said that cars and trucks are an easy target for regulators, but that they are not the sole source of greenhouse gas emissions, implying that car makers should not be singled out.
But he still doesn’t get it.
Lentz was quick to fall on his own sword, blaming the automakers for giving themselves a bad public image by having the car buying experience be so unpleasant and saying that “[w}e need to constantly let the world know what we’re doing to be part of the solution” to greenhouse gas emissions.
Toyota has pandered to the environmentalist who hate cars by selling the Prius as environmentally friendly. In fact, taking into account the pollution created by manufacturing and destroying its batteries, it is nothing such. But it has been an effective diversion from Toyota, which has desperately tried to grab market share in trucks from Ford and Chevrolet. That it has flopped miserably had given it cover for it’s green image.
But conceding that car makers and cars are part of the problem is a huge mistake, albeit one that GM had committed, as well.
At a time when Al Gore has become a laughingstock and those who question whether there is any real “global warming,” much less any caused by mankind, this is not the time to be conceding contested ground.
Toyota should be fighting tooth and nail to stop any modification of the current regulations, and should be contending that the market dictates what cars people buy. Exhibit A could be the Prius, which is one of the top ten best selling cars in America. Exhibit B could be the Tundra, which has been an abject failure costing Toyota multi-millions.
Popular opinion is turning against “global warming” extremists just about everyone in America depends on their cars, and most of the people that drive them like cars, at some level – perhaps even those that buy a Prius. (Just think of it as another automotive status symbol, just aimed at environmentalists, and you’ve got the concept.) If the car buying experience were really that awful, dealers would have changed it. It remains a modern-day form of horse-trading, and probably has something to do with the psyche of the customer.
But now Toyota’s concerned.
It is afraid of the fuel economy regulations passed by the Senate and now pending in the House of Representatives. It has one chance to stop them.
But people like Lentz, who somehow seem unable to appreciate either the visceral hatred of cars among a certain segment of the population or the ineffectiveness in logic in attempting to deal with them, seem incapable of actually fighting for what they should be believing in.
Toyota: to late to the fight with too little.
If the mileage standards currently proposed become law and it hurts Toyota, it will be poetic justice. Toyota will deserve it.
But, those standards could also destroy the domestic auto industry, and neither the companies nor their workers deserve that.
In which case, Toyota wins either way.
And that probably explains why they’ve been so uninvolved.
Source: The Star