Saturday, October 6, 2007

Toyota, too, Says No

"Automakers get it this time, calling for up to a 40% increase to 35 mpg by 2022, the first increase since 1985. In a business where product plans are set six, eight and even 10 years in advance, 2022 is closer than it would appear."

- Irv Miller, V.P., Toyota, in Open Road Blog, the official Blog of Toyota responding to NY Times Columnist Thomas Friedman's Et Tu, Toyota?
This quotation tells us all we need to know about what the auto industry would like the future to look like. Simply put, even 15 years from today, they foresee nothing better than petroleum burning vehicles with ever so slightly better mileage. As an industry they must oppose even the meager Congressional call for 35mpg by 2020.

Were plug-in hybrids and electric cars added to the automakers' fleet mix they could achieve astounding CAFE standards. But that is not what they envision or work for. Such grid-connected options, which would lower automobiles' role in global warming, pollution and petroleum dependence, may be inevitable, but the automakers' self-interest remains postponing that day.

Government regulation such as the California ZEV Mandate or the price of petroleum could still push automakers toward grid-connected electric drive, but corporate self-interest is still perceived to be connected to the internal combustion engine. Better to keep CAFE standards low and fuel options limited to petroleum.

Now I don't believe we'll be without options come 2022. There will be numerous plug-in choices available. But politicians and industry continue to play the political game as if there weren't serious consequences, squandering time and resources.