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Some of what this guy says makes sense but a lot of it seems like the product of a man with a personal grudge against Toyota. I can't see how anyone could agree with his argument that driving a Prius doesn't save gas or reduce America's foreign oil dependency or with his implication that they don't reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Anyways, brace yourselves to be annoyed and read on...


Column: Dear Valued Hybrid Customer...

(From THE WALL STREET JOURNAL - 11/30/05)
By Holman W. Jenkins Jr.

(Editor's Note: Mr. Jenkins is a member of The Wall Street Journal's Editorial Board and author of the weekly Business World column.)

We at the Toyota Motor Corporation are writing to address certain misconceptions that have arisen about your Toyota Prius model, which we are proud to note is driven by many celebrities, including Prince Charles and HBO's Larry David.

Our pioneering gasoline-electric hybrid, introduced in 1999, has become an object of adoration to the world's enlightened car buyers. Our competitors, including America's Big Three, are rushing out hybrid vehicles of their own. Unconfirmed media reports say that we at Toyota intend to double our hybrid output to 500,000 vehicles next year. Along with other members of the auto industry, we will be lobbying for tax breaks and HOV privileges for hybrid vehicles.

However, any romance entering its seventh year tends to go stale. Some purchasers have begun to question the practical value of our Hybrid Synergy Drive technology. You may be aware that a survey by Consumer Reports found that our vehicles achieve considerably less mileage (some 26% less) than the sticker rating implies. This has led to some unflattering media stories.

Let us assure you that the Prius remains one of the most fuel-efficient cars on the road. Toyota applauds your willingness to spend $9,500 over the price of any comparable vehicle for the privilege of saving, at current gasoline prices, approximately $580 a year.

And should the price of gasoline rise to $5, after 10 years and/or 130,000 miles of driving, you might even come close to breaking even on your investment in hybrid technology.

We recognize that our customers have an "emotional" relationship with their vehicles. This transcends even the regrettable truth that driving a fuel-efficient car does not yield any substantial benefits for society if it doesn't save the owner money.

Contrary to any loose statements made by our marketing partners in the environmental community and media, petroleum not consumed by Prius owners is not "saved." It does not remain in the ground. It is consumed by someone else. Greenhouse pollutants are released. Also, please note that the warranty and owner's manual say nothing about reducing America's dependence on foreign oil. This is not an oversight. The Prius is an "oil-dependent" vehicle. It runs on gasoline, supplied by the same world market that fuels other vehicles.

The Toyota Corporation regrets any misunderstanding our marketing may inadvertently have caused (or may cause in the future).

We share your belief that the days of the internal combustion engine are numbered. Further research by our economists suggests this will happen when the price of gasoline rises high enough to make alternative technologies cheaper than gasoline-powered cars.

We at Toyota want you to know we recognize this effect and have taken steps to compensate with the rest of our vehicle lineup.

Our 2006 Tundra pickup will be equipped with Toyota's new eight-cylinder engine, making it every bit as much of a gas guzzler as any American pickup. We are also redirecting our efforts to use our Hybrid Synergy Drive to increase power output rather than reduce gasoline consumption.

Take our new hybrid SUV, which produces 38 more horsepower but gets the same mileage as our conventional version. A New York Times reviewer wrote, "One question lingers after driving the 2006 Lexus RX400h: How did it come to this, that Toyota is now selling a hybrid gas-electric vehicle with no tangible fuel economy benefits?"

We hope this corrects any misimpression caused by our latest slogan ("Commute with Nature"). Hybrid technology is not "green" technology. Like heated seats or flashy exterior trim, it's merely an expensive option that generates large markups for the Toyota Corporation and its dealers.

You will share our pride in the latest figures from J.D. Power & Associates, which show that the Prius continues to move off a dealer's lot in just eight days, compared to 36 days for a Honda Civic hybrid. Clearly, our customers are willing to pay handsomely for the privilege of showing themselves behind the wheel of so conspicuously virtuous a vehicle.

But we are also a far-seeing corporation. We recognize that the Prius's distinctiveness may be a wasting asset for reasons outlined in this letter. Other motorists may see the Prius operator and think "sucker." Our lawyers advise us this may affect your car's resale value. Toyota regrets any inconvenience.

We want you to know that Toyota remains committed to advancing hybrid technology just as long as our customers are willing to make it worth our while. Our esteemed competitor, Nissan's Carlos Ghosn, was recently quoted saying, "There's such a buzz today that no CEO of a car manufacturer dares to say his real opinion of hybrid because he's accused of being retarded."

Another esteemed competitor, GM, has suggested that hybrid technology is best deployed in city buses, where large fuel consumption and stop-and-go driving might actually make it economically sensible.

These are just two examples of the short-sighted, stick-in-the-mud marketing instincts of our fellow automakers that are helping to make Toyota the largest car company in the world.

Yours Truly, the Toyota Corporation.

Copyright (c) 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
 

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I would suggest this test to the author: let's each put our mouths over our respective car's exhaust pipes at the next few stoplights.

rpm
 

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"This transcends even the regrettable truth that driving a fuel-efficient car does not yield any substantial benefits for society if it doesn't save the owner money. Contrary to any loose statements made by our marketing partners in the environmental community and media, petroleum not consumed by Prius owners is not "saved." It does not remain in the ground. It is consumed by someone else"

I stopped taking him seriously when I read this nonsense. Really, a third grader knows better. By this logic driving a gas guzzler SAVES gas because that gas can't be burned by someone else! Does this guy work for FEMA or the CIA? How about putting him on the Bush budget committee? He'd fit in real well there, judging by our current deficits.

I wonder, if Toyota is throwing money away, how come they are making a profit and GM is losing four billion dollars on carmaking this year?

It is the rants of morons like this guy that contributes to a backlash against GM that can be seen in many posts here. Illogical attacks on Toyota will generally make Toyota owners defensive, and unsympathetic to the plight of GM. For this reason, I expect Toyota corporate to be less bothered by this drivel than GM corporate.
 

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TROLL! TROLL! Holman W. Jenkins Jr from THE WALL STREET JOURNAL IS A TROLL! :roll:

he doesnt agree with the membership of this site and said things that are controversial, therefore he is a troll!

On top of that his comments are mean!

:roll:
 

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Perfect article for a Canadian jerk who doesn't own a Prius to quote from for the next two weeks. I might point out that the anti GM remarks posted by Toyota owners are no differently taken than the reverse.
No matter how you cut it remarks made in publications have rubbed this author the wrong way and he obviously decided to give a little in return.
 

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Interesting, rereading this I'm not really sure what points the editor is trying to make.


Column: Dear Valued Hybrid Customer...

(From THE WALL STREET JOURNAL - 11/30/05)
By Holman W. Jenkins Jr.

(Editor's Note: Mr. Jenkins is a member of The Wall Street Journal's Editorial Board and author of the weekly Business World column.)

We at the Toyota Motor Corporation are writing to address certain misconceptions that have arisen about your Toyota Prius model, which we are proud to note is driven by many celebrities, including Prince Charles and HBO's Larry David.

Our pioneering gasoline-electric hybrid, introduced in 1999, has become an object of adoration to the world's enlightened car buyers. Our competitors, including America's Big Three, are rushing out hybrid vehicles of their own. Unconfirmed media reports say that we at Toyota intend to double our hybrid output to 500,000 vehicles next year. Along with other members of the auto industry, we will be lobbying for tax breaks and HOV privileges for hybrid vehicles.

However, any romance entering its seventh year tends to go stale. Some purchasers have begun to question the practical value of our Hybrid Synergy Drive technology. You may be aware that a survey by Consumer Reports found that our vehicles achieve considerably less mileage (some 26% less) than the sticker rating implies. This has led to some unflattering media stories.
Any savvy consumer knows that the EPA tests do not reflect real life mileage for most drivers, the EPA is investigating new tests that are more reflective of drivers that like to use air conditioning, etc. To make things more confusing the EPA test seems to be even less accurate for hybrids.

Let us assure you that the Prius remains one of the most fuel-efficient cars on the road. Toyota applauds your willingness to spend $9,500 over the price of any comparable vehicle for the privilege of saving, at current gasoline prices, approximately $580 a year.
There may be similar cars to the base Prius for $14,000, something from Scion, Hyundai or KIA, but for $19,000 it's hard to find a car with:

Driver and front passenger front seat-mounted side airbags and front and rear side curtain airbags; Anti-theft system and auto-dimming rearview mirror w/HomeLink® [6] universal transceiver, Smart Key System, backup camera [4], Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) [5], High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps and integrated fog lamps, JBL® AM/FM 6-disc In-dash CD changer w/9 speakers in seven locations, aux. audio jack, MP3/WMA playback capability and hands-free phone capability via Bluetooth® [7] wireless technology, and Voice-activated DVD navigation system [8].

That's based on the '06 prices less the $9,500.

As far as his cost savings - my last car was a Chysler 300M that I paid $3,000 more for in 1998 and has a lifetime MPG of 19.8. If I only drive 12,000 miles this year, I'll save about $740 in fuel costs at $2.19, what I paid last fill up and my lifetime average MPG of 44.7. Considering that the 300M prefers mid-grade, the true cost savings would probably be over $800/year.

And should the price of gasoline rise to $5, after 10 years and/or 130,000 miles of driving, you might even come close to breaking even on your investment in hybrid technology.

We recognize that our customers have an "emotional" relationship with their vehicles. This transcends even the regrettable truth that driving a fuel-efficient car does not yield any substantial benefits for society if it doesn't save the owner money.
The "emotional" relationship also transcends the regrettable truth that most of the Hummers, Escalades and other large SUVs never go offroad, they do not yield any substantial benefits for society, especially now some of the tax credits have been removed from them for business owners.

However, it would be difficult to make a case that any PZEV does not benefit society both long and short term.

Contrary to any loose statements made by our marketing partners in the environmental community and media, petroleum not consumed by Prius owners is not "saved." It does not remain in the ground. It is consumed by someone else. Greenhouse pollutants are released. Also, please note that the warranty and owner's manual say nothing about reducing America's dependence on foreign oil. This is not an oversight. The Prius is an "oil-dependent" vehicle. It runs on gasoline, supplied by the same world market that fuels other vehicles.

The Toyota Corporation regrets any misunderstanding our marketing may inadvertently have caused (or may cause in the future).
Assuming an editior at the WSJ has better than a sixth grade education, I'm inclined to think this indicates the entire post is tongue in cheek. Uneven satire, maybe?

We share your belief that the days of the internal combustion engine are numbered. Further research by our economists suggests this will happen when the price of gasoline rises high enough to make alternative technologies cheaper than gasoline-powered cars.

We at Toyota want you to know we recognize this effect and have taken steps to compensate with the rest of our vehicle lineup.

Our 2006 Tundra pickup will be equipped with Toyota's new eight-cylinder engine, making it every bit as much of a gas guzzler as any American pickup. We are also redirecting our efforts to use our Hybrid Synergy Drive to increase power output rather than reduce gasoline consumption.

Take our new hybrid SUV, which produces 38 more horsepower but gets the same mileage as our conventional version. A New York Times reviewer wrote, "One question lingers after driving the 2006 Lexus RX400h: How did it come to this, that Toyota is now selling a hybrid gas-electric vehicle with no tangible fuel economy benefits?"

We hope this corrects any misimpression caused by our latest slogan ("Commute with Nature"). Hybrid technology is not "green" technology. Like heated seats or flashy exterior trim, it's merely an expensive option that generates large markups for the Toyota Corporation and its dealers.
Actually this contains much truth - HSD can be used to increase efficiency (think Prius) or performance (think Lexus 450h), just as most any tool can be used for good or evil. Not saying performance is evil - mind you :D

You will share our pride in the latest figures from J.D. Power & Associates, which show that the Prius continues to move off a dealer's lot in just eight days, compared to 36 days for a Honda Civic hybrid. Clearly, our customers are willing to pay handsomely for the privilege of showing themselves behind the wheel of so conspicuously virtuous a vehicle.

But we are also a far-seeing corporation. We recognize that the Prius's distinctiveness may be a wasting asset for reasons outlined in this letter. Other motorists may see the Prius operator and think "sucker." Our lawyers advise us this may affect your car's resale value. Toyota regrets any inconvenience.
Many factors influence the decision process between the HCH and Prius. For me the Prius had all the fun toys, plenty of space and I like the conspicuously virtuous look. Allows me to explain, thatI'm not just a cheap guy, I'm helping the environment and national security.

So far Prius resale values seem to be holding well. This will probably change as Toyota increases production.

We want you to know that Toyota remains committed to advancing hybrid technology just as long as our customers are willing to make it worth our while. Our esteemed competitor, Nissan's Carlos Ghosn, was recently quoted saying, "There's such a buzz today that no CEO of a car manufacturer dares to say his real opinion of hybrid because he's accused of being retarded."

Another esteemed competitor, GM, has suggested that hybrid technology is best deployed in city buses, where large fuel consumption and stop-and-go driving might actually make it economically sensible.

These are just two examples of the short-sighted, stick-in-the-mud marketing instincts of our fellow automakers that are helping to make Toyota the largest car company in the world.

Yours Truly, the Toyota Corporation.

Copyright (c) 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Not to far off the mark on GM from what I can tell - they are being dragged kicking and screaming in to the hybrid market because they know their board will not tolerate the Japanese using gas prices to gain market share at the rate they did in the '70s.

Strange article.

Cheers,
Jeff
 

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I believe that's an example of what's called satire. Trouble is, he made a fool of himself, which pretty much ruins the effect.
 

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The article is certainly satire, but the author is clearly trying to make the point that hybrids are a poor technology. He uses the same strategy that Wall Street Journal writers use to create confusion about the enormous scientific evidence for climate change, namely by combining carefully selected true statements with faulty logic.

He states that the actual mileage is less than the EPA rating. That is a correct statement. What he doesn't say is that Consumer Reports measured an overall average gas consumption of 44 mpg for the Prius--much better than any other sedan. The car's actual fuel consumption is what is important, not its relative fuel consumption compared to some strawman.

Also, he implies that the price of the Prius is related to its overall carbon dioxide emissions. Again, there is some truth here, but his conclusion is faulty. The Prius requires more energy and different materials to produce than a non-hybrid car. That means there is an additional amount of carbon dioxide emissions associated with manufacture that is somewhat reflected by the higher price. However, Toyota published a study showing the additional amounts of carbon dioxide generated to produce the Prius, compared to a non-hybrid equivalent. They concluded that it takes about 12,000 miles of driving to save enough in carbon dioxide emissions to break even. After that, the Prius results in a net life-cycle reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. A one-year payback is not bad.

Hybrid vehicles make perfect sense to anyone willing to evaluate them fairly. The synergistic design allows the electric motor and the gasoline engine to each operate in its most efficient range. Furthermore, the battery storage and regenerative brakes allow the capture of braking energy that otherwise is completely wasted. When plug-in hybrids come along, real gas mileages of greater than 100 mpg will be possible. And the distributed electric storage represented by all those car batteries will allow intermittent forms of renewable energy like solar and wind to be viable contributors to the electric grid.

Toyota unfortunately did not take full advantage of hybrid technology to save gasoline in the Lexus/Highlander hybrid models, choosing instead to demonstrate high performance. But even these vehicles have much higher city mileage than their non-hybrid versions. The hybrid Camry and other Toyota hybrids will likely emphasize gas savings closer to the Prius.

The Wall Street Journal works very hard to give its readers comforting reasons to believe that their wasteful use of resources is not a problem and that products produced by American industry are just fine as they are, thank you. That's exactly what the readers want to hear, and that keeps them buying the Wall Street Journal.
 

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JRjr said:
Some of what this guy says makes sense but a lot of it seems like the product of a man with a personal grudge against Toyota..
Sure. There is going to be a lot of that. US auto makers have a ot of sway with publications like the WSJ, for obvious reasons.

The really say thing is how that sort of disinformation only hurts the US economy in the long term. Instead of pretending US makers aren;t behind, then need to admit it, and start improving. It looks like they intend to keep digging.

Ultimatly, it's very Darwinean. People who don't want to face unpleasant realities and choose to live in ignorance aren't going to built the greatest civilization or cars. It's not a matter of choice, it's a matter of natural fact.
 

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ChuckK said:
THe states that the actual mileage is less than the EPA rating. That is a correct statement. What he doesn't say is that Consumer Reports measured an overall average gas consumption of 44 mpg for the Prius[better than anything else]
Yep, that's how the spin doctors do it. Another thing he left out is that the EPA milage is high for ALL vehicles becasuse it assumes a fairly optimal run.

i.e. that Prius the EPA rates 60mpg may only get between 44-50mpg. But that non-hybrid the EPA rates 24MPG may only get about 16-20MPG in reality.

The WSJ author couldn't be unaware of those facts if he thinks himself qualified to write an article on it. One has to assume he's a deliberate propagandist or a sold out mouthpeice, becasue nobody could come to his conclusions starting from scratch without a bias.
 

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I estimated when I bought my prius that the gas saving vs the higher cost would come out roughly even over the length of time I would keep the car (and my estimate is still on track) and I didn't see anything particularly new or surprising in that WSJ article (although the spin and condesention is annoying), and several of you have already pointed out some of the innacuracies I noticed. On the plus side, the article may help educate some less savvy buyers so they don't have unrealistic expectations about hybrids.

What's ironic is that if we all drove durangos or hummers it would probably hasten the day when electric cars become practical, but I'd hate to be in that traffic with all that pollution in the mean time.
 

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ChuckK said:
The article is certainly satire, but the author is clearly trying to make the point that hybrids are a poor technology. He uses the same strategy that Wall Street Journal writers use to create confusion about the enormous scientific evidence for climate change, namely by combining carefully selected true statements with faulty logic....

...The Wall Street Journal works very hard to give its readers comforting reasons to believe that their wasteful use of resources is not a problem and that products produced by American industry are just fine as they are, thank you. That's exactly what the readers want to hear, and that keeps them buying the Wall Street Journal.
Word. You tell 'em! Seriously, a letter to the editor seems appropriate - I think we should all write to the WSJ and explain that the moral, compassionate, caring thing to do is to buy a car that consumes fewer resources and causes less damage to our common inheritence (air, water, land). It is patriotic to buy a car that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Etc.

Here's the guidelines and relevant e-mail addresses, and a link to the guidelines page for op-ed pieces.

"All op-eds should be directed to the Editorial Features Editor, Tunku Varadarajan. There are two ways to submit an op-ed, please choose only one of the following: By fax send it to 212-416-2255. By email send it to [email protected].

"If you are responding to an article that has appeared in the Journal, please send your comments to Ned Crabb, the letters editor, at the same fax number or at this email: [email protected]."
 

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did a toyota p/u run over his dog??

This guy has some real issues. I see Prius public opinion going in two directions, keen interest in the unique technology and jealous persecution.

Besides the tax rebate, car pool lane privileges, and (for me) $1200/year in gas savings there is the benefit of knowing that I am not contributing to the problem with gas consumption and air polution. I am doing my best to minimize that. I am also very happy with the extra time that getting into the carpool lane and filling my vehicle up in 5 minutes once every 10 days rather than 2x week for 15-20 minutes gives me.

Dude needs to get off his butt and do something positive for the world.

PS; for any of those with Frappr connections....does that map remind you of any other maps......
 

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My reply:

Dear Mr. Jenkins,

I was dismayed by the inaccuracies in your recent article on Toyota. For instance, the Prius was introduced in 1997, not 1999, making an informed reader instantly suspicious of your research. These suspicions are confimed by your nonsensical claim that Prius owners pay a premium of "$9,500 over the price of any comparable vehicle." Apparently you have confused the Prius' premium - currently estimated at $3,000 to $3,500 - with the premium for the Highlander hybrid. Since the Highlander hybrid is available only with the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink option package, that number is greatly inflated: For instance, the navigation system, ugraded sound system and CD changer are not part of the hybrid synergy drive. I paid $23,600 for my Prius, which included such options as vehicle stability control, HID headlights, and side airbags. I would be very interested in learning about ANY comparable $14,100 car, much less ALL $14,100 cars.

At any rate, operating cost is a red herring: For many Prius owners, saving money was not a major issue. For my wife and me, using less gasoline was far more important than saving money on gasoline. For us it's an issue of taking personal responsibility for reducing our energy consumption without unnecessarily sacrificing our standard of living. (A car is still a necessity in our household.) We also believe using less imported oil is in our nation's best interest. You're right, the oil will get used, but not by us, and perhaps not today. Hybrid cars are going to be a major factor in the transition from our current carbon-intensive economy to our future, more sustainable energy usage.

One statement in your article mystifies me: "[D]riving a fuel-efficient car does not yield any substantial benefits for society if it doesn't save the owner money." If your statement is correct, doesn't it follow that personal spending in general doesn't benefit society? What conclusions would one then draw about our consumer-based society? Isn't is likely that driving a more expensive, fuel-efficient car benefits society at least as much as driving a cheaper, less fuel-efficient car and spending the so-called "savings" on something else? (This is without considering the cost of externalities such as pollution - considerations that strongly favor the hybrid side of the equation.) After all, dollars are fungible - there's no difference between a dollar spent on gasoline and a dollar spent on a battery pack.

Thanks very much for your time and attention.

Yours,
 
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