Toyota Takes Lead Before Government Forces It To
By George Anderson
As is the case with most business executives, Toyota’s North American president and COO Jim Press is no fan of government regulation.
Mr. Press concedes, however, that many times his industry and others have been forced to change by government regulation because of a failure on their part to “drive the process” instead of getting “run over by it.”
A case in point, he said, is the current situation the auto industry finds itself with issues such as global warming, fuel economy standards and the dependence on foreign oil.
Toyota is actively seeking to address these issues with its hybrid lineup. The company announced it is adding 10 hybrids to its line and the company expects hybrids to make up 25 percent of its total U.S. sales in the next 10 years.
While hybrid models have been successful for Toyota — the company’s sales of its Prius are up 133 percent this year– it’s not enough, said Mr. Press.
According to a report in USA Today, Toyota is also developing vehicles that run on “clean diesel, natural gas and hydrogen power.”
Mr. Press would like to see others work with Toyota so the industry doesn’t find itself dealing with regulations down the line because of a failure to address environmental and other issues important to the scientific community, consumers and legislators.
“Think of what we could do with issues like CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) and global warming if we join hands and develop our own vision for the future, rather than waiting for regulators to do it for us,” he said at the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminar.
“I propose we put together a meeting of top automotive leaders in a neutral location where we all leave our company name badges at the door,” he said. “That way, we can engage
in candid dialogue, unify and come out with a positive direction.”
Moderator’s Comment: What has been the track record of the retailing and related industries in getting out ahead of government regulation on issues important
to the medical community, consumers and elected representatives? Are there lessons for this industry in the advice given by Toyota’s Jim Press?
Jim Press is not going to be making many friends in the oil industry.
“Hybrids are a simple way to make an important difference in curtailing foreign-oil dependence, air pollution and greenhouse gases, plus they’re a lot of
fun to drive,” he said. “Being able to thumb your nose at gas stations on a regular basis is an added bonus.”
– George Anderson – Moderator