The clamor, led by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, and the environmental group National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), is over Toyota's history of lobbying against tougher fuel-economy laws in the U.S. Congress. Sure, other auto makers do the same thing, but detractors claim Toyota's actions considered in the light of its 'green' marketing campaign make the offense especially grievous.
Contradiction is the name of the game at Toyota, critics argue - just compare the fuel-sipping Prius to the petrol-chugging Tundra, and their respective marketing messages. Toyota says such contradiction is at the heart of the industy: the income they get from their truck line funds the research and development they need to make their hybrid line a reality. And Toyota does invest a market-leading $23 million per day in R&D. Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that a full-line automaker offers cars from one end of the spectrum to the other, or that cars at one end of that spectrum seem to 'contradict' the cars at the other.
Might the environmentalists be missing the point? Toyota is doing what it must to run a profitable business, just like the other manufacturers. However, unlike its competitors, Toyota has had a 46mpg (5.11L/100km) hybrid sedan on the market for over a decade. Where is the Ford, GM, Chrysler, or Nissan equivalent? They all make heavy-duty trucks, and they all lobby Congress for favorable fuel standards. So why punish the one maker doing something better for the environment?