Now my parents own a Prius, so when I saw the headline Toyota is pushing for 'more modest' proposed fuel economy standards in the US, via the Guardian blog. I took action on the NRDC site. I got an autoreply from which was quite amusing, a few days later an interesting real reply arrived.
The NRDC action letter say tell Toyota to move forward on fuel economy and ask them to stop opposition to a sensible increase in fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020.
In the Toyota response there were some interesting lines
"We share your interest in strengthening automotive fuel economy and, in fact, are actively lobbying for a significant increase in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE). Any assertion by anyone or any one website or blog that we are doing otherwise, is simply not true."
Now that's quite strong - in other words that's Toyota saying NRDC is lying? Now the "proof" that Toyota 'cares' about fuel efficiency:
"There are various bills before Congress that would mandate new CAFE targets by 2020 and require both cars and trucks to meet that standard. At Toyota, we favor proposed legislation known as H.R. 2927, the Hill-Terry bill. This measure is aggressive and calls for increases in CAFE by as much as 40% by 2022. Although this won't be easy, we believe it is achievable. The bill maintains separate categories for cars and trucks."
I know next to nothing about the details of US fuel economy standards (apart from the fact that big 3 US auto makers lobby to keep them low, very successfully) But a few little hints scored high on my greenwash radar. Note the 2022 deadline - far in the future (even further than 2020) and the give away - "separate categories for cars and trucks."
There's probably in Toyota's favoured bill something about how US light trucks (think SUV's) can continue to have terrible fuel efficiency.
I checked the NRDC blog but no response to this but also via their blog a link to NY Times article that sheds a bit more light on what Toyota's game really is:
"Not so fast. Here are the facts: Thanks to the Michigan delegation, U.S. mileage standards for passenger car fleets have been frozen at 27.5 miles per gallon since 1985. Light trucks are even worse. The Senate energy bill calls for U.S. automakers to achieve a corporate average fuel economy of 35 m.p.g. by 2020. The Big Three and Toyota are lobbying to kill the Senate version and replace it with a loophole-laden increase to 32 to 35 m.p.g. by 2022. (Only the U.S. auto industry would try to postpone innovation.) The difference between the two is millions of gallons of gas."
So as suspected Toyota's using it's green credentials in marketing, while lobbying against green laws behind the scenes, at least in the US. Luckily it's more common now that not even good PR or a corporate blog (check those comments, talk about taking some stick!) lets you get away with such double standards.
Right now I think Toyota cares a little less than I did a few days ago.