Toyota has worked hard to cultivate its image as the "green" automaker. And, with so many hybrids on the road, it can back its claim up. Still, some critics have cited the fact that mining for battery components is bad for the environment and the thousands of miles that massive, CO2-spewing ships travel to park those hybrids on our shores more than negate the positive effects of of the hybrids. It's hard to argue with 50 mpg for $22,000, though, and, after all, politicians love them some hybrids.

Toyota's plans to build a new technical center and test track only 30 miles from its Aichi, Japan headquarters have its critics chirping anew, as the land pegged for construction is a 17th century rice patty. Toyota plans to use the facility to fine-tune its vehicles and stay ahead of Honda and GM in the hybrid game, but the cost may be a bit too steep.

To clear the 1,631 acres needed for the facility, Toyota plans to deforest 691 acres, fill the rice paddies and flatten mountains. Flatten mountains? Really? Good thing Toyota also owns Hino heavy trucks. Activists allege that the construction will destroy the habitat of the endangered gray-faced buzzard and oriental honey buzzard. That doesn't sound very eco-cool.

[Source: Bloomberg]
Photo by Steph & Adam. Licensed under Creative Commons license 2.0.

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