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Blog: Did Toyota Blunder Today on NPR?
Feb 10, 2006 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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Photo from NPR All Things Considered website for today's story on plug-in hybrids.

Feb. 10, 2006: Did Toyota Blunder on NPR All Things Considered?

This week Toyota introduced the immense Tundra, challenging Detroit in its last stronghold -- behemoth huge profit margin trucks. (If you think I'm overstating things, Toyota's spokesman called it "gargantuan.") Lots of stats about how much longer, wider more powerful (and even low emissions) it is. But my search found no published info on its miles-per-gallon and greenhouse gas emissions.

This same week, Toyota may have stumbled as it struggles to respond adequately to the growing number of journalists and car-owners pestering them about plug-in hybrids.

On Tuesday, a Toyota representative wrote to an individual, "we do not currently have any announced plans to introduce a plug-in hybrid Toyota vehicle in the U.S." Find an expert who could say if that's intentionally evasive. (See our chronology of all automakers comments in the past year at­carmakers.html.)

In a story broadcast today on NPR All Things Considered, you can hear spokeswoman Cindy Knight say, "You can certainly make a vehicle that will run, but you can't necessarily make a vehicle that people will buy.... Toyota went to great lengths to address the drawbacks of battery vehicles so that people do not have to plug our hybrids in, and our customers tell us that that is one of the features they like about the vehicle, they don't have to plug it in."

See the full story about all three at the CalCars-News Archive,­group/­calcars-news/­message/­286.

My chess-player/basketball point guard son called it a "strategic blunder." Two weeks after the launch of Plug-In Partners,, a national campaign to build a fleet and individual buy order for PHEVs, CalCars sees this as a great opportunity. The challenge: what more can we do to prove that plugging in -- to substitute cleaner, cheaper, domestic electricity for gasoline -- is a welcome option, not a burden.

It should be easier to do that than what we've all already done: get Americans talking about 100+ MPG cars using existing technology and no new infrastructure. We have some ideas but would like to hear yours.

The ball's in our court. What should we do?

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