Hot on the heels of Tom Friedman's indictment of Toyota in the New York Times, the company has responded. Friedman was critical of Toyota's support of the Hill-Terry fuel economy bill along with all the other big automakers. Toyota's VP of Communications Irv Miller has used his podium at the Open Road Blog to defend Toyota's position and he sounds an awful lot like Bob Lutz while doing so.
As much as Miller's recent defense of parallel vs. series hybrids came across as disingenuous, he makes very valid points in his response. Like Lutz, he discusses the much greater variety of the US vehicle market compared to Europe and elsewhere. High-mileage vehicles are the norm in Europe not because of efficiency mandates but rather due to high fuel prices. Those prices are in part due to much higher fuel taxes.

Essentially, like GM, Ford and others, Toyota is a big manufacturer trying to supply a product in line with the demands of the consumer. They are no worse and no better than any other. Well maybe they are slightly better having been on the leading edge of hybrid technology (although now trying to ride the existing tech as long as possible). They deserve some credit for that but it doesn't give them a pass forever. At the same time, politicians and NY Times columnists need to look past the politically expedient ideas and seriously consider tax changes if they want to make a real difference.

[Source: Toyota]

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