Posts Tagged ‘Toyota’

To be Green or not to be…


Great article that summarizes some of the same reasons I would never (yet) buy an electric car.  While I don’t live in California and can’t speak to some of the subsidies they offer for their forced environmentalism, I do agree with a couple of the main points: The car I choose to drive and spend my money on isn’t offered in an electric version, and the idea that electric cars somehow are more green than conventionally powered gasoline cars is really not true.

On the first issue, I have a quite large and active family and we ain’t all fittin’ in Leaf or a Prius.  I would have to own 2 or 3 of them (and be able to drive them all at the same time) to be able to fit everyone.  But maybe even more of an influence on my non-purchase is that I drive 40+ miles each way commuting to work.  From the specs I’ve read a one way trip is about the maximum range on the mass produced electric cars.  Of course, I’d love to drive a Tesla but that’s not happening on my current pay rate.  My current employer doesn’t offer a charging station and I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Which brings me to my point of confusion.  Why do automakers waste time designing and producing electric cars with such limited range?  (I suspect it has something to do with forced government mandates, but I digress…)  People who drive under 40 miles per day aren’t using that many resources to begin with, comparatively speaking.  But people like me who drive nearly 100 miles a day are.  If companies were really trying to be socially responsible and good stewards of the environment, wouldn’t they go after the biggest offenders first?  I realize that there’s a lot of additional cost in developing batteries with that kind of range, but I have to think that the biggest bang for the buck for the environment, the automaker, and the auto owner would be on providing vehicles with a much greater range.  If you take one car off the road that was driving 200 miles a week or one that was driving 500, where would the greatest benefit be?

Which brings me to my final reason for not purchasing an electric car.  I believe the benefit to the environment to be negligible.  At best.  The vast majority of the power in the United States is produced by coal or oil burning power plants.   It’s a one for one trade off.  You need more electricity to run these vehicles, so you need more oil and coal to run the power plant.  Every drop of oil saved in a car is burned to create electricity.  And I have no proof of this, but I have a suspicion that a power plant produces more carbon dioxide than a fleet of Hummers with the catalytic converters ripped off.  And this doesn’t even touch the issue of how much exploitation takes place in mining the special minerals used in making exotic vehicle power plants…

It may seem that I am a resource waster or don’t care about the environment.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I just believe that the only thing buying a car to be green does, at least at this point in time, is make us feel good about ourselves but does nothing to help the environment.



Toyota’s ‘negotiated equipment recall’ with the NHTSA

February 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Maybe I’m missing something, but all of the press on this issue seems to be on Toyota’s recall avoidance negotiations to save $100m, and none on the government agency that it negotiated with.  Not that Toyota should be held blameless of course, but the US government had a lot more to do with this than anyone seems to be giving them credit, er, blame for. 

The linked article below from the Detroit News discusses an internal presentation Toyota officials gave last year, where they boasted of savings they got by avoiding a recall on accelerator problems by negotiating a ‘equipment recall’ on floor mats instead.  So you can negotiate your way out of safety recalls with the government?!?   Isn’t this agency’s very existence based on the premise that they are protecting us from this sort of stuff?!?  The article also points to evidence that State Farm Insurance notified the government of a spike in unintended Toyota acceleration complaints back in 2004, but nothing was done then either.  In my opinion, officials from NHTSA should be sitting right next to the Toyota executives during the upcoming congressional grilling…

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Toyota’s ‘cover-up’ and related issues…

February 23, 2010 Leave a comment

A lot of press has been given to recent revelations that Mighty, Infallible, Toyota may have covered-up, or in their words, ‘responded too slowly’ to reports of unintended acceleration and possible deaths attributed to their cars, to improve their profits (Gasp!!).  In my opinion, this inevitability has been a long time coming.

I don’t deny that Toyota has a well deserved reputation for quality, forged when US cars were pieces of junk, comparatively speaking.  Most of the stories I’ve heard about why Japanese cars are better sound like this: My dad had a 1982 Chevy and it was always in the shop; My friend had a 78 Ford in college and it never ran; My first car was a 3 owner 87 Dodge and it used oil.  I rarely hear anyone say they had a late-model domestic car that they’ve had many problems with.  In short, Toyota and the others have been given a pass on quality for years based on an outdated truth.

For years, American cars have been just as good and sometimes better than Japanese cars, but they are held to a completely different and more stringent standard.  When I was with GM, I had the opportunity to work with many dealers who owned both GM and Japanese franchises.  I was told several stories of recent GM purchasers returning to the dealership with ‘quality’ issues like body panel gaps being a millimeter different from the front of the hood to the back, or 1/2″ threads on the seats not being trimmed at the plant, headlights that come on all the time (daytime running lights), and windows that go down all the way by themselves (express down function).  Japanese car owners on the other hand, would bring their cars in for oil changes and express utter shock when they were told there were severe issues with suspension, brakes, and motors.  These owners assumed that since their Japanese car was of such high quality, the clunks and creaks they heard were personality quirks of their fine automobiles, not problems.  (I would also argue that Consumer Reports, with it’s perpetual claim of being non-biased, and the NHTSA have a lot of explaining to do, but I digress…)

Toyota’s issues point out in glaring detail that perception is not in fact reality.  It’s time that Americans, and the world, judge all automakers on the same scale.  I think most would be surprised to know the truth.,2933,587221,00.html

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