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Why is Toyota, a company that can make a car that gets 55 miles per gallon today, fighting a 35 mpg standard?

In a pointed entry in The Huffington Post, blogger and Prius owner Laurie David writes about her disappointment with Toyota’s decision to lobby hard for reducing CAFE standards for automakers. She writes:

Over the years I watched the Prius go from a weird nerdy car everyone thought you had to plug in to THE car to drive. Friends traded in their SUVs and Jaguars and soon the Prius was everywhere. We all reaped the benefits — customers enjoyed the gas savings, the earth enjoyed the lower carbon emissions, and Toyota enjoyed the limelight. The company deserved all the rewards it garnered for its vision and leadership. Yet now here comes Toyota, fighting to derail a sorely needed increase in fuel economy standards. Toyota’s current actions are unacceptable, depressing, and just plain morally wrong.

The Natural resources Defense Council explains the situation this way:

For several years the Toyota Prius has been the car of choice among environmentally conscious consumers, and has helped add more than a touch of green to the company’s reputation. Toyota was miles ahead of other car companies when it introduced the Prius hybrid, which combines outstanding gas mileage with style and comfort — a feat that Big Auto insisted couldn’t be achieved. So Prius fans might be surprised to learn that Toyota is trying to move America backward on fuel economy.

Congress is negotiating an energy bill that could raise the fuel economy standard to 35 miles per gallon, a move that would save America 1.2 million barrels of oil each day by 2020 — more than we import from Saudi Arabia. But Toyota has joined forces with General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and other automakers in an attempt to derail what would be the first improvement in fuel economy standards in nearly 20 years.

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