Toyota to review climate stance as investors turn up the heat
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp signalled a shift in its climate change stance on Monday, saying it would review its lobbying and be more transparent on what steps it is taking as it faces increased activist and investor pressure.
The carmaker came under scrutiny after siding with the Trump administration in 2019 in a bid to bar the state of California from setting its own fuel efficiency rules.
Toyota “will review public policy engagement activities through our company and industry associations to confirm they are consistent with the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement,” it said in a statement, adding that actions will be announced by the end of this year.
The automaker also said it will “strive to provide more information so that our stakeholders can understand our effort to achieve carbon neutrality.”
A company spokeswoman, who confirmed that “public policy engagement activities” includes lobbying, was not able to respond immediately to questions about pressure from investors.
Four funds with about $235 billion in assets under management are pressuring Toyota before its annual shareholder meeting in June to draw a line under its lobbying against international efforts to prevent catastrophic global warming.
“This move must not be a PR exercise but instead signal a clear end to its role in negative climate lobbying which has given it a laggard status,” Jens Munch Holst, chief executive officer of Danish pension fund AkademikerPension, told Reuters.
AkademikerPension has “escalated via intense direct engagement” with Toyota after a decade of communicating with the automaker through a third party, Troels Børrild, spokesman at the Danish fund, told Reuters.
‘UNDERMINED CLIMATE ACTION’
AkademikerPension will consider preparing a shareholders resolution to submit at next year’s annual general meeting if “Toyota fails to deliver on its commitment,” Børrild said.
The fund would consider selling its Toyota holding if there is no change, but the spokesman said fund officials did not believe it would come to that.
“Right up until now, the company has repeatedly undermined climate action, from opposing the U.K. government’s ban on internal combustion engines by 2030 to opposing car fuel economy standards in the U.S.,” Munch Holst said.
The Toyota spokeswoman told Reuters that it would need more time to respond to Munch Holst’s comments.
The other investors are Church of England Pensions Board, Sweden’s AP7 and Norway’s Storebrand.
Toyota was among major automakers that supported the Trump administration in its attempt to bar California from setting its own fuel-efficiency rules or zero-emission requirements.
They have since dropped that support in a “gesture of good faith an to find a constructive path forward” with the Biden administration.
With pressure growing on carmakers to slash emissions, Toyota is also scrambling to produce EVs that can compete globally with rivals’ models.
Toyota this year settled a lengthy Justice Department civil probe into its delayed filing of emissions-related defect reports for $180 million.
Toyota offers a wide range of legendarily reliable vehicles, ranging from the tiny Yaris hatchback to the hulking Land Cruiser SUV. The lineup received an injection of excitement this year when Toyota lifted the curtain on the revived Supra sports car—which also won a 2020 10Best award—but the rest of the lineup is rather tame. The Camry is one of the best mid-size sedans you can buy, while the Tacoma has a well-earned reputation for being a sturdy pickup that isn’t afraid to get dirty. The Corolla is a great choice for those seeking economical transportation, but when it comes to fuel economy the Prius hybrid is king.
Learning to drive a car to its limit is about learning to dance with physics. Unlike real dancing, though, the price you pay for a mistake is far costlier than stepping on your partner’s toes. Which is why you need a learning tool like the all-new Toyota Supra.
We love many things about the Supra, but first among them is that it’s one of the world’s best teaching aids for learning to go fast—because it’s also one of the best cars to drive fast, period. For starters, it’s both quick and sticky: It roars to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds and glues itself to the pavement with 1.07 g’s of lateral grip. Plus, it turned an impressive 3:01.4 lap at Virginia International Raceway during Lightning Lap. But there’s more to its abilities than even those accomplishments.
Driving a car quickly, confidently, and, above all, safely requires clear communication between car and driver. The Supra broadcasts what it’s doing in reaction to what you’re doing with the controls as if it had a bullhorn bolted to its dash.
Most of this communication is felt through your inner ear and the seat of your pants. While the steering is direct and accurate, it’s the car’s ample body movements as the tires nibble at the edge of adhesion that speak loudest. Newbies to high-performance driving should take this car to a track-instruction day; it won’t take long to get the feel. Expert drivers who shut off the stability control will find that adjusting the car’s slip angle with the steering wheel and the right pedal happens almost telepathically.