Toyota, striking different tone from auto lobby, lauds Obama fuel economy plan
Jim Colon, vice president for product communications at Toyota, said at the Washington auto show today that the administration's plan to formalize new fuel efficiency rules by the summer of 2012 “excites us.”
“The administration is engaged,” Colon said in response to a question from the audience after his speech. “That's the direction Toyota is already going.”
Colon was referring in part to the new family of Prius hybrids that Toyota introduced weeks ago at the Detroit auto show.
The administration's preliminary proposal would require automakers to incrementally increase fuel economy standards from 2017 to 2025 until they met goals of between 47 mpg and 62 mpg.
“Whatever goal they establish, Toyota will be prepared to meet,” Colon said. “If it's 62 miles a gallon, we'll be able to achieve that.”
Another Toyota spokeswoman, Martha Voss, said Toyota was not endorsing the 62 mpg target, adding that the automaker feels it is premature to pick a number until studies have provided more information and other factors have been considered.
The tone of Colon's comments contrast with those that have been made by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which consists of Toyota, the Detroit 3 automakers, Volkswagen and seven other companies.
When the administration's plan was introduced in October, the Alliance said it was “based on very preliminary and incomplete data at this point, and inevitably will change.”
Earlier this month, the group complained to House Republican leaders that the preliminary proposal “may underestimate technology costs to automakers and overstate fuel savings to consumers.”
“We all want to put the most fuel-efficient vehicles as possible on the road, but for the 2017 rulemaking, policymakers still need to gather and analyze much data to determine the maximum feasible fuel economy standards that avoid negative impacts on affordability, safety, jobs and vehicle choice,” Alliance spokeswoman Gloria Bergquist said today. “No one knows what the 2025 target should be yet, and the data needs to drive the rulemaking.”
The administration announced this month that new fuel economy targets to be proposed by the federal government and the state of California will be issued at the same time, by Sept. 1.
The administration hopes to reach a settlement among the EPA, U.S. Department of Transportation, California, automakers and environmental groups, as it did in issuing 2012-16 fuel economy rules that will require automakers to produce car and truck models that average 35.5 mpg by 2016.