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Out of Our Minds
Monday, October 24, 2005 3:47 PM
The Toyota Edge (for the Time Being)
Kevin Salwen on Environment & Sustainability

Toyota has made a marvelous name for itself as being the most environmentally correct auto maker. Its Prius launched the modern-day hybrids surge and execs are promising dozens of lines of the gas-electric vehicles over the next decade. The kudos for Toyota had gotten so breathless that the last time I was in Detroit, the grumbling was rampant: 'They only make a 100,000 of those things (hybrids) but they get millions in free publicity,' one jealous GM exec groused to me.

But interestingly, negative remarks about Toyota are beginning to grow. First came a series of reports about the company's two new hybrids -- the Lexus 400h and the Highlander Hybrid -- noting their sacrifice of fuel economy for additional power. (Full disclosure: I own the Highlander Hybrid and it ticks me off that Toyota didn't make the mileage greater by sacrificing a little of the zero to 60.)

Now comes Friends of the Earth, an environmental group with a unit called the Bluewater Network, that is beginning to run a series of newspaper ads blasting Toyota for its stance against tougher fuel-efficiency standards, among other things. The first ad is headlined: 'Is Toyota a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?'

When you're the leader, you're a hot target. Let's see how Toyota responds to this broadside -- and whether it will do any harm.

1 comment

martin - 10/26/2005 12:45:30 PM
Bluewater has a point. In fact, if you look at the best selling cars in Toyota's line-up you find they are on par with the cars being offered by Detroit.

However, Toyota has promised over 20 of their cars will be hybrids by 2010. That's a start. And, the big US three are launching hybrids just to stay competitive.

But hype has taken over reality. All of the auto makers have to launch and address the issue of alternate fuel choices.


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