Toyota's Green Bubble Bursting?

Toyota has gotten a lot of mileage out of portraying itself as the greenest, most fuel-efficient car company on the planet, and has reaped the benefits both financially and public relations wise. Yet they are careening toward becoming the most hypocritical car company on the planet by aggressively opposing desperately needed higher U.S. fuel economy standards. Toyota should be worried that their green bubble will burst. Let's take a little stock here. The company has sold over 1 million hybrids to consumers who'd rather sip gas than guzzle it, and who want to do their part in the battle against global warming. But now Toyota is teaming up with Detroit's Big Three to scuttle legislation that would raise fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 -- a technologically feasible, and urgently needed step for a country President Bush has admitted is "addicted to oil." When our nation is contributing more C02 pollution than any other -- and fueling the global climate crisis -- isn't it the reasonable thing to do to perhaps, I don't know, become more efficient? For those customers who bought the Prius long before it was "cool" and thought they were investing in Toyota's vision of a gas-sipping fleet, this latest move is insulting. It's a slap in the face to every driver who has helped make Toyota the first foreign company to surpass all the American car companies in sales. We believed the company when it said it was a leader, that it had a vision to sell a million hybrids a year and make its fleet 100 percent hybrid, that it wanted to help move America beyond our addiction to oil. And now this? Toyota should know better than to follow the dinosaur logic of Detroit, which claims that the 35 m.p.g. fleet-wide goal is "unattainable." Come on Toyota, why don't you use your new position as the largest American car manufacturer to lead this failing industry forward, not follow its relic Detroit rivals down the road to "assisted suicide" as Tom Friedman labeled it last week in the New York Times. Whether you own a Toyota hybrid or are in the market for a new car, click on NRDC's call to action here and tell Toyota to get a grip. We must move forward, not backward on fuel economy.