By on July 30, 2007

83tercelsr-5wagon1.jpg"It's deeply disappointing that Toyota has joined in the lie-and-threaten game," says Dan Becker, director of the Sierra Club's global-warming program. Speaking to Automotive News [AN, sub], Mr. Becker is referring to Toyota's decision to join The Big 2.8 in lobbying Washington to throttle back on plans for higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. The effort is sure to tarnish the transplant's green credentials and stoke the fires of domestic partisans, but it makes perfect sense. As AN points out, Toyota's combined car-truck fleet peaked at 26 mpg in 1983, and ToMoCo is enjoying full-size profits generated by its full-size SUV's and pickups. The real story here is Toyota's 'tude towards the Detroit. Apparently, they want to compete "relentlessly, but not ruthlessly." "We don't want to see our competitors in any worse financial shape," claims Josephine Cooper, Toyota's group vice president for government and industry affairs. Methinks they will. 

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

19 Comments on “Toyota Joins Lobby Against New CAFE Regs...”


  • avatar
    68stang

    …Business is war.

  • avatar
    Luther

    Perhaps the little elitist-twit Danny Becker should get a real job. Perhaps building zero-emission automobiles that run on sugar, spice, everything nice. He might start by picking up a physics book but I’m sure studying Physics is just way too hard for his fragile little mind/character.

  • avatar

    Toyota is indeed enjoying the profits generated by sales of their large trucks. Oddly enough in this market environment of rising gas prices, it is the largest Toyota Tundra of them all, the Tundra CrewMax, that is really knocking them dead down at the Toyota dealership.

    You can read a piece on it HERE.

    It is a paradox repeated throughout the light-truck segment; as gas prices rise, sale of the thirstiest and largest luxury pickups are rising as well.

    Toyota has a considerable vested interest in fighting CAFE, just as the other pickup truck manufacturers do.

    B Moore – Autosavant.net

  • avatar
    LoserBoy

    Luther:

    Physics has lots of icky “details.” He’s an “idea guy.” It’s his job to see The Big Picture; sweating the small stuff is for others. Besides, “laws of physics,” “laws for emissions,” it’s all just laws. The courts will ultimately clear up any confusion you might have.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    Okay, totally off topic, but my parents owned one of those Tercels. AWD, but no roof rack. That shot brought back some memories, there.

    Toyota is an odd duck… they’re the only foreign automaker that’s consistently sided w/ the domestics. Presumably, before, that was because of the number of plants they had in the US, but now that they’ve given indications of pulling out, it makes one wonder.

  • avatar
    Hippo

    BMoore
    It makes total sense that the very top versions of these vehicles do well in sales.
    The great majority go to people that are still doing well in this economy, ie those that have ways of using the tax code to write off almost everything.
    Many of these ways are “manufactured” but in the current environment they fly.

  • avatar
    dean

    Hippo:
    A couple days ago I saw a fairly new F150 with at least an 8″ suspension lift and off-road knobbies. The truck had graphics of some business. I can’t remember the business, but suffice it to say it was not something for which a suspension lift and knobbies were a requirement. Obviously the guy was using his business to write off his toy.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “…Business is war.”

    Yeah, but when your opponents are so lame that your biggest worry is that they will vanish.

  • avatar
    BillyG

    CAFE is a poor idea and should be fought by anyone who dislikes government supply-side mandates. If you want people to use less gasoline, tax it. Supply will adjust to demand if left alone.

  • avatar
    rtz

    When I was young and that model wagon first came out; that license plate insert used to blow me away. It just seemed so odd and strange.

  • avatar
    Luther

    Government mantra:

    if it moves, tax it. When it stops, subsidize it.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Most companies in most situations, when given the choice, would take less regulation over more regulation. So kneejerk opposition is not surprising.

    But wait, there’s more. It makes sense for Toyota to oppose such regulation, and not just because it sells pickups. Toyota is the largest mainstream automaker to have a strong presence in fuel-efficient segments, and the lack of effective regulations that would have forced the Detroit automakers to change has kept the Big 2.8 mired in their dinosaur mentalities.

    Imagine — if CAFE had ever had real teeth and forced Detroit to make high quality efficient cars, Toyota would not have nearly the market share or opportunity to prosper in a future world of high oil prices as it does today. The main beneficiaries of these toothless laws have not been Detroit, but Detroit’s strongest competitors who used them to their advantage by exploiting the laziness and lack of competitive spirit endemic to the Michigan operators.

    Already hampered by their lack of vision, the lack of regulation has allowed the Big 2.8 to be caught completely unprepared to address current market conditions. An ineffective CAFE helps them to continue to dig their own graves. Complying with it might actually force them to become competitive, so why would Toyota possibly want that to happen?

  • avatar
    postjosh

    We have only ourselves to blame. We NEED much higher gas taxes but that’s not going to happen because of our political reality. We are killing ourselves with our gas-guzzling habits. At least CAFE keeps the issue in the spotlight. Instead of demanding that the government kill it, we should demand that the government replace it with the kind of gas taxes that most developed countries pay.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    We need higher taxes like we need crew cab pickup trucks.

    What if we got incentives and tax breaks for buying fuel efficient instead?

  • avatar
    geeber

    Legislation such as CAFE cannot force Detroit – or anyone else – to make high-quality small cars.

    When CAFE went into effect, it did force drastic changes in vehicles, and I think most people would agree that, with few exceptions (GM’s 1977 big cars; Ford’s 1979 “Panther” cars and Fox-bodied Fairmonts and Mustangs), those vehicles were not improvements over what went before.

    Regulation does not bring about vision, or better vehicles. It can often backfire, and bring about the X-cars, the Oldsmobile Diesel and the disastrous downsizing of the Eldorado, Seville, Toronado and Riviera.

    Regulation would not have forced the cultural changes necessary to produce attractive, high-quality fuel-efficient vehicles. What has spurred Ford, and, to a lesser extent, GM, to attack their poisonous corporate cultures is brutal competition from the Japanese at the low end and the Germans at the high end. This began before the current debate over raising CAFE.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Regulation would not have forced the cultural changes necessary to produce attractive, high-quality fuel-efficient vehicles.

    It may not have clinched it, but it could have increased their odds of success. The lack of an effective law made it easy for the Big 3 to effectively ignore the small car market, a failure which has contributed to their long-term demise.

    The default move in Detroit was to focus on gas guzzlers based on the argument that the large cars provided better margins. Had they been forced to increase their small car sales, they may have actually done a better job of it, as they could not have resorted to selling other vehicles and surrendering that market to rivals.

    These companies have been so badly managed for so long that they would have benefited from some sort of force to get them to change. Unfortunately, there was never any sort of stockholder revolt to force a change, and the erosion has been so gradual that they could deny that it was happening. An effective law may have helped to shove them in directions that they would otherwise have rejected. Toyota is fortunate that the law was weak, as a weak Detroit helps its bottom line.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Sorry, can’t buy that argument, anymore than I can accept arguments that stopping “currency manipulation by the Japanese” or shutting down Consumer Reports will help Detroit.

    CAFE, when originally implemented, did have teeth and forced serious changes in Detroit’s model lineup.

    The K-Cars and X-cars were a direct response to CAFE. Henry Ford II only approved the original Escort for North America because of CAFE standards (as recorded in David Halberstam’s excellent book, The Reckoning.)

    CAFE forced huge changes in vehicle design. GM and Ford had drastically redesigned their entire passenger car lineup by 1981 (except for the Corvette and Camaro/Firebird). By 1984, Chrysler had killed off every rear-wheel-drive car except the Chrysler Fifth Avenue, Dodge Diplomat and Plymouth Fury.

    CAFE did have teeth when it was originally implemented.

    All the new-front-wheel-drive cars were initially terrible products (although Ford did improve the Escort by the late 1980s to an acceptable small car entry). And no knowledgeable car enthusiast (or mechanic, for that matter) considers a 1981 vehicle to be superior to its 1971 counterpart.

    Until the recent run-up in gas prices, there was no move to tighten CAFE because customers (i.e., voters) did not want it.

    Everytime someone urged a tougher CAFE standards, I would smile and think, “I guess they want it scrapped.”

    Always reminded me of those who demand that Pennsylvania’s 65 mph speed limit on limited access highways be enforced to the letter.

    My response – “I guess you want it raised, because the only reason it exists is that police give drivers a 10-mph leeway, and if you take that away, people will demand that it be raised to allow them to drive 75 mph again.”

    Honda succeeds because it is a well-run company with a dedication to engineering excellence. Toyota succeeds because it is a well-run compmany with a dedication to quality and putting the customer first.

    Ford and GM have foundered because they are run by bean counters with very little feel for the product, and, in many cases, display contempt for their customers.

    Unless CAFE removes (at a minimum) the top three layers of management at those companies, it will not change anything. And from what I’ve seen, stockholders aren’t going to make any connection between tougher CAFE standards and the need to force changes in management.

    Alan Mullaly is trying to force cultural change at Ford, and his hiring by Bill Ford had nothing to do with CAFE standards. For all of the GM bashing on this site, GM HAS made many changes in the way it runs factories and develops new vehicles (many of GM’s problems stem from too many vehicles sold through too many divisions and a culture that thinks it can establish a market position for a division by having Bob Lutz say so). These changes were occurring before any movement to increase CAFE standards.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Honda succeeds because it is a well-run company with a dedication to engineering excellence. Toyota succeeds because it is a well-run commany with a dedication to quality and putting the customer first.

    Ford and GM have foundered because they are run by bean counters with very little feel for the product, and, in many cases, display contempt for their customers.

    I generally agree with that (although I do differ with any implications that one must be an engineer or “car guy” to be an effective manager. If anything, engineers are often among the worst managers, but I digress…)

    My point is that the truck- and large car-heavy product mix allowed their problems to fester because the higher margins helped the Big 3 managers to conceal their underlying systemic problems. If they had been forced to sell more small cars, they may have been forced to sell better small cars, as they would have had no choice but to compete on that turf. A weak CAFE allowed them instead to focus on the gas guzzlers and get away with it, which has left them utterly unprepared to address their current reality.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    What if we got incentives and tax breaks for buying fuel efficient instead?

    Isn’t saving money on gas enough of an incentive?

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Tstag: A shortage of Lithium just means that ICE cars will go for longer and that many of the brands listed above...
  • nrd515: I live near several assisted living type places. Hell, I’m almost there the way I’m going...
  • mason: “These articles are red meat for commentors like EBFlex who want to sound their propaganda.” And...
  • randy in rocklin: Some guy here in CA got killed as he was stealing a Cat converter under the car, and the owner...
  • randy in rocklin: Some guy here in CA got killed as he was stealing a Cat converter under the car, and the owner...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber