Toyota, the automaker of choice for the green movement, is under fire by the green movement. It seems that the company wants to turn 1600 acres of cedar forests and 17th century rice paddies into a research center that’ll include 10km of road courses. The problem—in addition to the historical value of the area—is that it’s the habitat of the endangered gray-faced buzzard and oriental honey buzzard. In total, Bloomberg reports, the project will deforest 691 acres, fill in rice paddies and raze mountains. Shigemi Oda, chairman of the “Society to Consider the Large-Scale Development Project of the 21st Century,” summed it up: “Most people think of Toyota as an environmentally friendly company. Crushing mountains is environmentally destructive.”
On the other hand, Toyota’s new president Akio Toyoda wants to put the road courses to good use once they’re built. It turns out the dude has some serious driving creds. In May, he drove a 500 hp Lexus in a 24-hour endurance race in Germany, finishing 87th in the 170-car field. And he’s not stopping now that he’s el jefe. “I plan to drive our cars. I’d like to be a president who’s as close to the action as possible.” That may not be environmentally proper, but in the auto industry it’s like a breath of fresh air.