• Jun 23, 2009
Toyota has worked hard to cultivate its image as the "green" automaker. And with so many hybrids on the road, it's hard to argue. 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. 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 has those 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 of the price may be a bit too steep.

To clear the 1,631 acres to create the facility, Toyota will need 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, too.

[Source: Bloomberg | Image: Three Lions/Hutton Gallery/Getty]


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  • 29 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      What's not green about this?

      They are knocking down pesky mountains and clearing vegetation to improve the habitat of one of natures finest animals.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You might think people are little more than slightly smarter (or dumber) decendents of monkeys. I think you and every other person are more valuable than that however.
      • 5 Years Ago
      See? Japanese vehicles really ARE rice-burners!
        • 5 Years Ago
        That's the funniest thing I've read whole day!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyota - Destroying Rice!
        • 5 Years Ago
        indeed....
        most of the rice (paddy) fields would've been severely depleted anyway... ( unless they were supplied minerals from the veins of deposits... :lol:)
      • 5 Years Ago
      If these farmers are anything like those who held up the airport construction at Narita for 2 decades Toyota would be well advised to look elsewhere, LOL.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Not really a comprehensive environmental review of the landscape, but if its akin to filling in wetlands I would have to side with the greenies. How about they build it into a mountain, Cheyenne styul.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I've been saying for quite a while that Toyota only pays lip-service to "going green" through hybrids; its actual practices (and profit-makers) are just the opposite.
      I think this is what Shoichiro Toyoda said about Toyota's mad drive to reach the top at the cost of all else, so Toyoda-san, stop the madness!
      • 5 Years Ago
      That pile of crap gets 35 mpg not 50 wake up and smell the rice fumes
      • 5 Years Ago
      Good reporting Chris, shame that you didn't discover the reporter in you when D3 were milking the American Taxpayer, and i am not even talking about the bailout.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Evil Detroit car manufacturers destroying the envi-ron... Oh wait...
      • 5 Years Ago
      so let me get this straight.... they would rather rearrange the country side of Japan by filling in wetlands, moving mountains, and destroying a food supply and an ecosystem than build their hybrids here?

      apparently, building the hybrids in japan is the most important thing to toyota. to me, from a business perspective, it would make more sense to build the hybrids in Canada or the US where they still have alot of manufacturing already than in Japan. hell, most of the hybrids are destined for here and the nickle used in the batteries was coming from Sudbury last i read... they could produce the whole car in North America to cut down on shipping costs, increase profit margin, AND sell the car for less and undercut their competition.

      Toyoda's son needs to whip some ass when he takes over...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why don't they just build it somewhere else? I know they probably want to keep it in their own company, but they could build something adjacent to their plants in Canada or the US where land is more plentiful.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ Temple. Yeah, corn is almost everywhere in Indiana. haha, especially on my farm. :P But you are right, these rice patties are relatively new compared to a lot of other stuff there. Plus it wouldn't be too much of a problem considering how much they import already. They are at a geographic hardship with such little land as they need, especially with the population and their levels of demand.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Because 17th century rice patties are everywhere in rural Japan. If you drive out of Nagoya to the rural areas where Toyota City is located its filled with rice patties like Indiana is filled with corn fields.

        Don't let the 17th century age fool you either, anything can be ancient in Japan. You'll find restaurants and inns that are older then the United States. You have construction companies like Kongo-Gumi that are over 1400 years old (created in 578 A.D.). Everything is ancient in Japan.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yep, build it the US, comrade Obama will be more then happy to give federal aid to a company who's building hybrids int the US.
        • 5 Years Ago
        There isn't really all that much that's old in Japan. They have hardly any buildings more than a century old and most of what is considered historical has actually been reconstructed. As for agriculture, it arrived in Japan only about 2300 years ago, about 6000 years after Europe. Still, it seems silly to refer to a rice paddy as "17th century", as though it has some historical value. The fact is, a lot of Japanese agricultural land is being taken out of production these days, regardless of when it was first cultivated.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They want it there, b/c ALL Toyota Hybrids are built in Japan.
      JDM Life
      • 5 Years Ago
      Im sure almost every other maufacuter....not just auto maufactures, have gone through this same thing building their miles long corprarations...


      I dont like the fact they may destroy all this and i rather they not, but this is nothing comapred to what other major corporations have done through out time.....but toyota does all hell breaks lose...
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