It has been two weeks since Toyota threw themselves into a PR nightmare with their support of the Trump administration’s attempt to prevent California from setting its own fuel-efficiency and zero-emission rules, and the heat has not let up yet. With Toyota and its support of Trump turning into a boycott of the Japanese automaker, is its credibility as a ‘green’ manufacturer going down the drain?
Toyota Supports Trump and Boycott Ensues
The day after Toyota made their support known, former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich sent out a tweet that pretty much summed up what a lot of us were feeling:
It did not take long for the tweet to spread like wildfire, quickly amassing 2.7k retweets from people around the country and the world. A common thread amongst the comments and retweets was a feeling of disappointment, anger, and a vow to never buy a Toyota vehicle again.
After decades of attempting to put on a public face of environmental conscientiousness and the promotion of more fuel-efficient vehicles, Toyota managed to throw it all away with one decision. Its eco-friendly reputation has been hit hard with social media hashtags such as #Boycotttoyota, #ToyotaTrump, and #ByeToyota, even by drivers who have been loyal to the brand for years.
The controversy harkens back to a lawsuit filed by the Environmental Defense Fund against the Trump administration. That lawsuit sought to prevent the White House from rolling back national pollution and gas mileage standards. Following his usual patterns of favoring businesses over the health of the country’s environment and its citizens, Trump wanted to void California’s congressionally-granted authority to set tighter emissions standards than what was issued on a federal level.
Not content to let Trump handle it on his own, big automobile manufacturers such as General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, and a trade association known as the Association of Global Automakers put their support behind him against the state. They back a plan to have a “reasonable, achievable” national standard. The problem is, that plan could potentially cost consumers thousands of dollars more in fuel and maintenance costs in the next few years than they might have had with more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Consumers are upset, and understandably so. Toyota’s actions are speaking much louder than the lip service it has been paying to those concerned with the greenification of the auto industry. No matter how many times it might spout that it is “a leader in electrified vehicles”, Toyota is clearly a hypocrite.
This boycott has the potential to snowball into a huge backlash. Not only is it undermining years of hard work in attaining higher fuel efficiency standards across the country, but it has also thrust itself into the spotlight of the eco-conscious crowd as a company who bears very little interest in pursuing a future free of fossil fuels.