Toyota Pulls A 300,000 Lbs Stunt, Reps Fume. Toyota: We Pull It Alone

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
toyota pulls a 300 000 lbs stunt reps fume toyota we pull it alone

Electioneering is redlining. One indicator: The Michigan Republican Party is protesting loudly against an improbable stunt: A Toyota Tundra will pull the retired space shuttle Endeavor to its final resting place at the California Science Center (CSC). This has the Reps up in arms: “”Barack Obama acts as if he single handedly built the U.S. domestic auto industry, meanwhile, a symbol of American greatness will be towed to its final resting place by a foreign competitor, forever cementing the image of a Toyota truck towing a retired space shuttle,” Matt Frendewey, director of communications for the Michigan Republican Party, told the Detroit News.

Aside from the politics, the DetN saw a technical problem: The Shuttle and its, well, trailer, weighs close to 300,000 pounds. A Tundra has a maximum towing capacity of 10,100 pounds. Toyota fed the DetN the story that it developed “a dolly specifically for hauling the Endeavor.”

Commenters to the DetN story immediately engaged in a brawl of donkeys against elephants. At, they are a bit more skeptic. Officially, the Endeavour will travel from LAX to the Science Center by way of the “four self-propelled, multi-axle vehicles” that were originally used to move the shuttles. On the last quarter mile, the Endeavour “will be towed using a Tundra CrewMax half-ton pickup, identical to 2012 models currently found in Toyota dealerships, with no additions to increase towing capacity or provide more power,” says Toyota.

Commenters at think that the Tundra will receive assistance from the multi-axle vehicles in the shuttle schlepp. Other commenters hope this is not true. We have asked Toyota whether the Tundra will do it under its own power. We’ll let you know what they say if they say it.

The Reps say that “the symbolism of this PR stunt should be offensive to every red-blooded American with vested interest in the success of the U.S. automotive industry.”

I guess if Ford, GM, or Chrysler would have paid for the honor of the last pull, American blood would not have to boil over. (We also asked how much Toyota paid, and do not expect an answer on that.)

The mud-slinging misses a more important, but also less black and white (or make that red and blue) issue: With the Shuttles heading to museums, the resupply of the International Space Station goes into private hands, those of Orbital and SpaceX. SpaceX is headed by Elon Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla. Tesla is partially owned by – oops – Toyota, which invested $50 million into the company, and which contracted the powertrain of the electric RAV4 from Tesla.

And the answers are in … Toyota Motors Sales chief spokesman Mike Michels says ..

On the pulling: “Yes, the Tundra will pull by itself. The majority of the transit will be aboard a self-propelled mover. For the last block or two to the Science Center it will be transferred to special dollies for the approach to the facility and the Tundra will tow it.”

On the money: “No payment was made for this event. As a member of the Southern California Community since 1957, Toyota has been a supporter of the California Science Center from the very beginning.”

On the hubbub: “SoCal is our hometown where we employ approximately 6000 people, and we are honored to be able to be part of this event.”

Toyota has been a supporter of the California Science Center for 20 years and is providing financial support for Phase 3 of the center. No stand-alone payment for the truck-pull has been made, says Michels.

Toyota U.S. sometimes (only half jokingly) calls itself “California’s largest car company.” The Tundra is an All-American effort with an American Chief Engineer. The truck is produced in the heart of truck country, Texas, from where the Tundra is exported to all parts of the world. Even the folks at Toyota Japan concede that the Tundra “was an American idea.” Calling it offensive to every red-blooded American is a disgrace.

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  • FJ60LandCruiser FJ60LandCruiser on Sep 19, 2012

    Let's not forget the real issue here: no one who buys full-sized pickups actually tows with them.

    • Nikita Nikita on Sep 19, 2012

      I get the joke, but a pickup is primarily designed to carry cargo in the bed, at least that is what I use mine for, not tow. Its a Tundra, BTW, regular cab, bench seat, rubber floor, eight foot bed, white, of course. Recreational towing should be done by that RWD stick shift diesel station wagon that everyone wants but the industry just wont build. Seriously, when I started driving, the typical tow vehicle was a RWD station wagon, but automatic gas V-8, like my '65 Impala.

  • Art  Vandelay Art Vandelay on Sep 19, 2012

    Didn't the places putting the shuttles on display have to purchase them? If so then they should be able to move them about with whatever they please.

    • El scotto El scotto on Sep 19, 2012

      They may have been stripped and declared surplus. Kinda like all the military stuff you see in front of the VFW/American Legion or in the city park. FWIW, with the USS Intrepid, NASA still technically owns the Enterprise. Either way, I doubt if the gubmint will ask for any of their "stuff" back. Some day our grand kids may ask us about Humvees and Bradleys on static display. It's going to the California Science Museum.

  • Tassos There is nothing 'weird' about Finland's fine system. A few other nations have it too. Switzerland maybe, I am not sure.But you do not specify WHAT was that clown's income that required him to pay $120k for a speeding ticket?I am sure that for somebody like ELon Musk, $100k will barely operate his megayacht ONE LOUSY Day.
  • Bkojote On paper, GMC is supposed to be the understated, more sophisticated member of the GM truck family.In actuality, GMC is total garbage in the truck world - by the time they're on their second owner they're decked out with amazon wheel spacers, pizza dish wheels, punisher stickers, and really angry opinions about any president who's won the popular vote in the past two decades. And man, these things are ugly as sin too.That's because GM trucks as a whole are kinda the also-rans in the truck category. Yeah, they do sales, but they aren't anyone's first choice. Not as extreme as the Ram, not as category defining as the Raptor, not as well engineered as a Toyota, so you end up with owners who compensate big time to distract others from the endless repair bills. The only owners I know who are worse are the rollin' coal lifted Super Duty drivers. Like you bought a GMC because the guy who sold you your wife's acadia is less scary than having to grovel for a Raptor and you take the Ford guys making fun of you personally.
  • Tassos The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. I have mentioned this before, and it applies here again.Go to the U of Michigan College of Engineering parking lot. How can you say what car the $300,000 a year (ACADEMIC year of 9 months, mind you, summer pay is extra, and consulting a whole lot on top of that) and what does the $50,000 a year secretary drive?Hint: Teresa was out chair's secretary, started a year ago. She had to resign in just a few months because her 75 mile EACH WAY from her home in Lapeer MI to ANn Arbor MI just KILLED HER when gas prices rose.What car did Teresa drive? Take a wild guess. An F150? A Ram pickup? A Silverado? One of these. In a fee months she had to resign and find a lesser job in the whole lot lesser U of M Flint (but why would she care? she's just a secretary), which halved her commuting distance to a still significant 75 mile round trip every damned day.So the poor keep buying pickups and get poorer, and the rich keep NOT buying them and get richer.
  • Cprescott It is ugly enough. But why? You refuse to build enough of your products for your consumers.
  • Cprescott Only if your income also gives you more votes.