Yesterday, on the first day of the Washington D.C. Auto Show, auto accountability experts from health, faith and environmental advocacy groups held a press conference in front of the Convention Center calling on automakers to produce more, clean electric vehicles. Advocates condemned car companies like Toyota for prioritizing profit over our collective health and safety. (Photos)
Despite splashy ad campaigns and high-profile commitments to zero-emission vehicles, many prominent automakers have yet to make their EVs widely available to consumers. Most “announced” products are still only available for pre-order, and of the millions of cars sold last year only a fraction were actually EVs, even though one third of Americans plan on or are seriously considering buying EVs.
Once regarded as one of the most innovative automakers in the world and a leader in sustainability, Toyota has actively fought the production and sales of EVs. Public Citizen, Sierra Club, and Interfaith Power & Light have all criticized Toyota for continuing to coast on its outdated “green” image while rejecting EVs and lobbying against zero-emission standards. Instead of prioritizing zero-emission cars, Toyota’s announcement at the DC Auto Show’s Public Policy Day was another “launch” for the 23+ year old Prius.
“Zero-emissions vehicles are the future of transportation. Despite over a decade of record-setting global temperatures, Toyota’s anti-climate lobbying underscores the company’s lack of commitment to the environment. While other manufacturers push forward on EVs, Toyota refuses to embrace a U.S. line-up of only zero-emission vehicles before the next decade. Toyota must stop stalling progress and commit to a pollution-free future.” – East Peterson-Trujillo, clean vehicles campaigner, Public Citizen
“The transportation sector is the single largest U.S. source of greenhouse gas emissions, and right now, some automakers are prioritizing their profits from gas-guzzling, carbon-emitting trucks and SUVs over progress on electric vehicles and the protection of our planet. Automakers have a moral responsibility to prioritize the health of our families and communities and to start making accessible, affordable electric vehicles available to consumers. As people of faith and conscience, we are ready for bold, new transportation solutions, and clean EVs are an integral step towards addressing climate change for our communities, future generations, and our Sacred Earth,” said Rev. Susan Hendershot, president of Interfaith Power & Light.
“Automakers put on their best face at auto shows when it comes to electric vehicles, while the reality of their EV strategies is lackluster and nowhere near what is needed to act on climate,” said Katherine García, director of the Sierra Club’s Clean Transportation for All campaign. “Toyota, for example, continues to promote a false image of itself as a leader in sustainability– and yet the manufacturer is re-releasing the Prius and selling its gas-powered Tacomas and Tundras in droves. We need all automakers to stop producing fossil fuel vehicles and go all in on EVs to urgently protect our communities from climate and air pollution.”
“Consumers have chosen electric vehicles, giving American automakers an opportunity to further transform their lineups with green steel and other sustainable materials,” said Hilary Lewis, Steel Director at Industrious Labs. “The auto industry plays a significant role in propelling demand for polluting, dirty steel made with coke from coal. U.S. automakers, like their European counterparts, need to start working with steel companies today to procure green steel and put cleaner, all-electric cars on the streets.”