The dirty secret behind Australia's most trusted carmaker.
When Toyota introduced the Prius hybrid in 1997, the company truly was a leader in reducing car pollution. But that was more than two decades ago. Toyota's transition to cleaner vehicles has stalled and the company is now one of the world's biggest roadblocks to electric vehicles.
Toyota has been fighting against effective climate policy all over the world, including in Australia: blocking clean air regulation, flip-flopping on renewables and pressuring governments to support fossil fuel powered hybrid cars.
We can't sit aside while Toyota continues to put profit ahead of the health and safety of Australians and our precious environment.
It’s time to stand up to this big polluter and expose Toyota’s dirty backroom lobbying. Together we can put the brakes on Toyota’s dirty dealings and pressure the company to switch to cleaner, healthier electric vehicles. Toyota was once a world leader - and it can be again, if it cleans up its act.
Why is Toyota fighting against cleaner cars?
Toyota is looking to delay the transition to cleaner cars for as long as possible while it continues to turn a profit from the sale of fossil fuel engines. Internal combustion and hybrid engines are complicated pieces of machinery, requiring lots of parts and ongoing maintenance, all of which Toyota can generate returns on. While many of Toyota’s rivals are speeding ahead in the shift to electric vehicles, Toyota has opted to delay rather than embrace the shift.
Toyota’s Track Record
Selling Outdated Solutions
Twenty-five years ago when the Prius was invented, hybrid technology was at the cutting edge of the transition to electric vehicles, but technology has moved on, with battery electric technologies quickly becoming the common-sense solution. Toyota has stalled on pure electric cars, opting to promote hybrid and fuel cell technologies that will lock customers into paying for fossil fuels or hydrogen for decades to come.
Spreading Electric Vehicle Disinformation
Since doubling down on fossil fuel hybrids and hydrogen cars, Toyota has resorted to disinformation campaigns instead of investing in battery electric cars. For example, Toyota is reported to have distributed leaflets in Japan criticising EVs and decarbonisation policy;2 and in Australia has asserted hybrids will reduce more emissions sooner than battery electric vehicles.
Lobbying Against Climate Regulation
Toyota has a clear track record of fighting against government policies designed to reduce transport sector emissions, improve air quality and human health, and make electric vehicles more affordable. Scroll down for examples from around the world.
Greenwashing Their Action
Toyota's marketing spin reads like a 1950s tobacco campaign except instead of ‘toasted’ tobacco, we get ‘self charging’ vehicles masking fossil fuel powered engines. Charging an electric vehicle is no different to plugging your phone in overnight, but Toyota’s attempts to sow doubt over electric vehicles play to established myths, misinforming well-meaning consumers about electric vehicles.
Global Influence: Toyota’s track record
- Toyota is the largest and most influential member of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, whose ‘secret plan’ to slow the electric vehicle transition in Australia was exposed in August 2022 in a Sydney Morning Herald article.
- Toyota Australia advocated for North American style legislation that allows higher emissions and fuel consumption instead of best practice EU standards
- After the EU announced their 2035 phase-out date for ICE vehicles, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda reportedly asked French President, Emmanual Macron, to try to prolong the use of hybrid vehicles in a private meeting.
- Toyota India lobbied against a 2030 phase out of internal combustion engines.
- Toyota and the Mexican car lobby sued the Mexican government to try to block proposed regulations to align fuel efficiency standards with the United States to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
- In response to New Zealand's Climate Action Plan consultation, Toyota opposed strong CO2 emissions standards, advocating for significantly weaker targets.
- Norway banned Toyota’s ‘self-charging’ hybrid greenwashing, deeming it to be false advertising.
- Toyota spent $6.2 million USD on a lobby blitz in Washington to influence policy
- Southern District of Florida - class action lawsuit filed against Hino Motors and its parent Toyota Motor Corp accusing them of historical misconduct linked to falsified emissions data between 2003-2021.
- Supported the removal of California’s Clean Air Act
- Toyota threatened to leave the UK if the government banned hybrids in 2030 as part of the country’s new zero plans.
- At COP26 in Glasgow, Toyota refused to join Ford, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz in signing a global pledge to phase out ICE-powered vehicles in leading markets by 2035
What about in Australia?
Toyota is the largest member of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, whose 'secret plan' to slow the electric vehicle transition in Australia was exposed in August 2022 in a Sydney Morning Herald article. The Sydney Morning Herald investigation in August 2022 found evidence that the automotive body has sought to hamper Australia’s transition to electric vehicles.3 Their membership size, and the role of Toyota Australia’s CEO as the chair of the FCAI, make it reasonable to assume that they are an influential member of the organisation.
Petition | Electrify Toyota
Fossil fuel industry may have lost power, but it’s still got its foot on the brakes
The fossil fuel industry may no longer be in government in Australia, but it is still keen to try and make its presence felt.
Revealed: Car industry’s secret emissions plan would slow electric vehicle uptake
The car industry has launched a wide-ranging secret campaign that would delay Australia’s transition to electric vehicles and hamper a key part of the nation’s climate change plan, confidential documents show.
Mexico clashes with auto industry over fuel efficiency
SAO PAULO, Oct 26 (Reuters Point Carbon) - Carmaker Toyota and Mexico’s auto industry have sued the Mexican government to try to block proposed regulations to align the fuel efficiency standard of cars and light trucks with that of the United States to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Australian drivers could save $20 billion by 2030 in rapid switch to electric cars
Australian drivers could save more than $20 billion in petrol and maintenance costs by 2030 if fuel emissions standards were introduced and helped drive a rapid uptake of electric vehicles.
Blowing smoke: Toyota’s emissions advantage splits sector
A stoush is brewing among Australia’s car suppliers over the best way to track the industry’s carbon dioxide emissions with even the government-run National Transport Commission unhappy with its access to accurate data.
Who’s holding back electric cars in Australia? We’ve long known the answer – and it’s time to clear the road
New analysis this week found strong fuel efficiency standards would have saved Australia A$5.9 billion in fuel costs and emissions equal to a year’s worth of domestic flights if the policy was adopted in 2015.
Jeep and Ram fined more than $400 million for diesel emissions cheating
Stellantis subsidiary FCA US has pled guilty to installing emissions-cheating software on turbo-diesel Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee models.
Football, meat pies, efficiency standards and electric utes: Can we have it all?
It was the anthem of a generation in Australia: Football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars. The advertising ditty said cars but I’ve always sung it in my head as “Holden utes,” because what could be more Australian than that.