Toyota: Jim Press Is A Liar

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
toyota jim press is a liar

Chrysler VP (and 37-year Toyota veteran) Jim Press ruffled some feathers at old mother Toyota yesterday when he claimed that the Japanese government had footed "100 percent of the bill" for the development of the Prius powertrain. ToMoCo didn't waste a second refuting the allegation of its former head of North American operations. "I can say 100 percent that Toyota received absolutely no support – no money, no grants – from the Japanese government for the development of the Prius," Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco tells the AP. The story also notes that while the Japanese government often assists private development projects, particularly for clean energy projects, the collaboration is not typically hidden from sight. That Press' allegation is the first whisper of any public-private cooperation in the development of the Prius could be an indication that he might not be working with all the facts. The irony of all this is that if our own government's massive public-private green car initiative of the nineties, the Project for a New Generation of Vehicles, had produced the Prius, every politician in America would be falling all over themselves trying to claim credit.

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  • D996 D996 on Apr 02, 2008

    Bancho: Yes, you are right there is no unity in the US auto industry, but the US is not a homogeneous society that for the most part blindly listens to authority. Self interest is at the heart of capitalism and in the auto industy it has almost destroyed it. Toyota has for the most part just copied the US model and executed it much better.

  • Captain Tungsten Captain Tungsten on Apr 02, 2008

    @jthorner: So how would you get production experience with a brand new technology that enables dramatic mass reduction? Please, inform the group. More taxpayers than you think support such projects.

  • Jthorner Jthorner on Apr 03, 2008

    @ Captain Tungsten GM has at various times in it's history been massively profitable and has introduced new technologies without government funding. The point of Freedom Car and it's predecessor was to get big fuel efficiency gains into the market. Clinton originally sold the idea that instead of ratcheting up fuel economy requirements (CAFE) the government needed to help improve fuel economy of the fleet by funding a massive industry improvement project and by setting aside normal anti-collusion regulations. The idea sounded good enough, but the simple fact is that it didn't work. During the 1990s CAFE standards stopped getting tighter and the fleet average fuel economy stopped improving. The big money project which was supposed to have produced a new generation of automobiles by now has as it's star accomplishment a niche component for a car absolutely nobody needs. Magnesium is an expensive (and flammable!) metal which has often shown up in niche automotive applications. Honda, for example, makes manual transmission cases from a magnesium alloy for weight reduction purposes. Building the Z06 engine cradle out of magnesium is hardly an earth shattering technological tour de force. Now if Freedom car had led to the new Malibu being built largely out of carbon fiber and tipping the scales at under 2,000 lbs while still being priced competitively then I would be impressed. But a government funded hundreds of millions of dollars project spitting out a magnesium engine cradle for the Z06 .... you gotta be kidding. The know how to make magnesium alloy parts has been around for a long time.

  • Captain Tungsten Captain Tungsten on Apr 03, 2008

    The mag cradle is an example, by no means the only success. And the thin wall casting process is the new technology, not the material itself. Aluminum is "flammable". Shall the industry stop using that material? And low cost carbon fiber research is being pursued as part of FreedomCar, along with high volume mass production technologies.