Toyota – not to mention General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles – made serious waves recently with regards to the state-versus-federal battle over who has authority to set vehicle emissions standards in the United States. In short, these automakers support a single national standard, which falls in line with the Trump administration’s position on the matter. As part of the newly formed Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation and in a separate statement, Toyota expressed complete neutrality on the subject. Thanks to some insight in a recent tweet from Dave Cooke, however, there could be some cracks in Toyota’s claim.
As a refresher, President Trump wants a rollback of fuel economy standards set under the Obama administration. Meanwhile, four other automakers – Ford, BMW, Honda, and Volkswagen – made an independent deal with California earlier this year for significantly higher standards. This is a political hot button if there ever was one, especially with the U.S. House of Representatives poised to hold an official impeachment vote against President Trump, and polls suggesting a majority of Americans support it. Taking any sort of position is a risky move right now for businesses large and small, which brings us to how Toyota is handling this matter.
You can read Toyota’s full statement here or at the press release button below, but the highlights emphasize Toyota’s neutrality “not as a plaintiff or a defendant, and not to favor any political party.” The statement also described – at some length – how Toyota is “proud of our history of environmental achievements and progress.” Of particular interest is the following passage:
“We do not believe that there should be different fuel economy standards in different states. There should be one standard for all Americans and all auto companies. That is why we decided to be part of this legal matter. Doing so does not diminish our commitment to the environment, nor does it lower our desire to manufacture vehicles that produce fewer emissions year-after-year.”
With that in mind, let’s jump back to the tweet above. A report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) titled Highlights of the Automotive Trends Report outlines a range of statistics covering everything from fuel mileage to technology in vehicles. One graph in particular compares mileage and emissions changes for the 13 largest automakers in the U.S. market over the last five years. Guess which automaker was the only one to have a decline in both metrics? You guessed it: Toyota.
The decline is small, but still, the statistics seem to be at odds with Toyota’s statement. Furthermore, while Toyota isn’t at the bottom, it certainly falls in the bottom half of this list. Coincidently, GM and FCA – automakers joining Toyota on the coalition – are at the very bottom. And all three are selling SUVs and pickup trucks in the U.S. market like golden hotcakes. According to Toyota’s latest sales figures, total truck sales (which include SUVs) through September 2019 are at 989,532 whereas car sales are at 688,796.
Yes, Toyota is a hybrid leader, but only the RAV4 and Highlander are offered with such powertrains in the SUV segment, and none are offered in trucks. Furthermore, another graph in the EPA report suggests Toyota is rather stagnant on developing technology outside of hybrid systems.
We won’t read between the lines here, but we have reached out to Toyota with this EPA report and asked for a comment on its findings that are decidedly unfavorable towards the Japanese automaker. A representative told us the company was looking into it, and we will certainly provide an update as soon as we hear back.
Toyota’s Statement Regarding Uniform National Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards
Toyota is passionate about the environment and reducing our impact. Our drive for continuous improvement of society is built into our DNA, and as a leader in electrified vehicles, it’s who we are as a company. The 179,000 Americans who support their families working for Toyota and our dealerships feel the same way. Toyota supports year-over-year improvements in fuel economy that provide meaningful benefits to our climate, while better aligning with what consumers want. That’s why we remain committed to be an industry leader in the development of vehicles that help reduce greenhouse gases.
Toyota entered into this legal action not as a plaintiff or a defendant, and not to favor any political party. Toyota is intervening to impact how emissions standards are applied. We want to help forge a sustainable compromise for consumers and the environment. Without joining this legal action, we would have no ability to affect the outcome.
We do not believe that there should be different fuel economy standards in different states. There should be one standard for all Americans and all auto companies. That is why we decided to be part of this legal matter. Doing so does not diminish our commitment to the environment, nor does it lower our desire to manufacture vehicles that produce fewer emissions year-after-year.
Multiple standards will result in higher vehicle prices. And if vehicle prices increase, consumers are more likely to keep older, less efficient cars longer. We can do more to reduce greenhouse gases by focusing on the 250 million vehicles already on the road today. We need to encourage consumers to trade in older, less efficient vehicles for newer vehicles that have higher fuel economy and therefore emit fewer greenhouse gases. We won’t be able to do that if prices are beyond what people are willing to or can afford.
We’re proud of our history of environmental achievements and progress. Since 2000 here in the U.S., we’ve sold over 3.6 million hybrids which have saved over 7.6 billion gallons of fuel and kept over 68 million tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. That’s the equivalent to taking 13.4 million vehicles off the road for a year. Currently, 11 percent of our sales consist of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell electric vehicles—that’s three times the industry average. We sell more alternative powertrain vehicles than the rest of the industry combined. And we’re working on increasing these numbers. By 2020, our plan goes up to 15 percent of our sales and by 2025, that number jumps to 25 percent, or one of every four vehicles sold.
We’re proud that our North America Headquarters in Plano, Texas, our Production Engineering and Manufacturing Center in Georgetown, Kentucky and our Supplier Center in York Township, Michigan were all certified LEED Platinum, the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest rating.
Lastly, we would like to share Toyota’s environmental sustainability position in North America as part of our 2050 Global Environmental Challenge, our latest environmental report and other examples of our efforts. To find out more, please click on this link.