On Sunday, Philip E. Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, wrote an opinion piece in the San Francisco Chronicle arguing that Toyota should not be penalized for selling two of the top three most fuel-efficient vehicles in the country. The company's only crime was that they invested roughly $1 billion in their hybrid drive train while the Big 3 were violating the nation's minimum fuel economy requirements and then effectively marketed the Prius which soon became an icon for environmental awareness.

Clapp sees little foresight on the federal government's part when Congress capped the hybrid incentive at 60,000 per automaker and thinks it's even worse that no lawmakers are standing up to raise the cap. Because no U.S. automaker is close to hitting the 60,000 hybrid limit anytime soon, the cap essentially acts as a limit for Toyota and effectively implements an artificial impediment to a "free" competition, reducing the incentive for the Big 3 to change.

Clapp offers an image of the hybrid vehicle market a year from now, when the tax credit for hybrid Toyotas are eventually reduced to nothing. A Chevy Silverado hybrid that averages 18 miles per gallon, he says, will receive a $650 incentive while the 55 mpg Prius will get none.

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[Source: San Francisco Chronicle]


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