Toyota's Jekyll and Hyde routine

Posted by: David Welch on October 5, 2007

Toyota’s green image took another shot today when the Union of Concerned Scientists blasted the company in a press release for opposing a Senate energy bill that would boost federal fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. Doh! This isn’t the first time a green group has taken Toyota to task for its duality when it comes to clean air and fuel economy. But it underscores that the surging Japanese auto giant is having a tough time balancing its headlong push for growth into every corner of the auto business with the green image that it has so carefully cultivated.

UCS took a shot at Toyota for claiming that it can’t meet the proposed regulations and for joining Detroit’s Big Three in opposing the enrgy bill. It’s tough for Toyota to play the green card when the company grew its Lexus brand chiefly by selling more suvs and it is trying to get a foothold in the Detroit-dominated big-pickup business.

This proves a point that, while Toyota is a great auto maker and has some of the best technology in the business, its corporate strategists are not the altruists that some of its green advertising would have the public believe. They want to grow sales and make billions just like any other company. That means selling gas hogs alongside Priuses and little Scions. In the eyes of the environmentalists who helped burnish Toyota’s brand since the Prius hit the U.S. market in 1999, being green Toyota and mighty Toyota is looking more and more like a Jekyll and Hyde routine.

Reader Comments

Ames Tiedeman

October 6, 2007 10:51 AM

You need to write a good piece on the fact that Toyota is going to be under serious pressure from GM over the next 5 years. I see GM taking back market share. GM is the future. Toyota will stay on to for a very short period of time.

noz

October 6, 2007 8:35 PM

David, in the bitterest of endes, business is business. If this were not the case, Toyota would not be living, let alone thriving in the process. The fact is that selfish/self/ absorbed/overweight American buyers are a rather diverse bunch, and some could not care less if what they drive is hastening the ende of the earth as we know it. Included in this august bunch of losers are masses of hypocritical Liberals, attorneys, puffed-up politicians, whatever... You have to admit that GM and Ford and Chrysler have failed miserably in coming up with their answer to the Prius, let alone the less economical but more drivable Civic Hybrid. A Cheevie Silverado/Avalanche/Tahoe hybrid with a 10% improvement means ONE MPG. Big Deal! A joke even Bob Lutz would choke on. They are no threat to our massive/ debilitating importation of oil.

Let's not punish Toyota for their stand, our domestics are far more deserving of our wrath. After all, no one is going to revive the guy who died trying to do good. We are still living in a world where survival of the fittest reigns. It is just that some, as with toyota and HONDA, are reaching out a bit further on the branch hoping it will not break.

Tom

October 11, 2007 3:12 PM

No, its time that we call all of these so-called green companies on the carpet. Either you're green or you're not. Consumers want a brand with a value proposition and Toyota is doing nothing but diluting theirs by pushing green cars and capitalizing on all of the hype while at the same time selling millions of what are essentially gas-guzzlers. Otherwise they are no better and will be treated with the same scorn as the Big Three.

Noz

October 13, 2007 12:53 PM

Tom, you are dead wrong. What consumers really want is all kinds of choices ready and waiting at the car store. Toyota is dealing with the variety of demands better than anyone else at this point.

Most likely you have a rather poor understanding of just what Toyota is all about. They assemble and sell cars and small trucks here, they also import a good number of vehicles. But the US of A is just one of a great many markets around our world, something few Americans appreciate. Just watch the nightly news and try to find a Chevrolet or Ford that is not the property of some bit of our government. Most the world wants no part of what the Big Three sell here, and for a number of good reasons.

Mac

October 18, 2007 11:27 AM

Ames, what r u smokin over there? GM will not take back the market from Toyota. If they do, it will be at least 20 years before they do. Don't expect it though. Toyota is an extremely resilant company with deep deep pockets ( they are not associated with the UAW for good reason). Toyota is a green company. There plants emmit far less toxins than any of the BIG 3 plants. They have to sell gas suckers to stay in business. They are not a non profit.

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Want the straight scoop on the auto industry? Our man in Detroit David Welch, brings keen observations and provocative perspective on the auto business.

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