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Toyota Is Stepping Up Its Hybrid Production As EV Sales Slow. But What Does This Signify For The Planet?

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Just over a year ago, Toyota appeared to admit that it had failed to deliver on electric automobiles. Its CEO, Akio Toyoda, resigned, describing himself as “an old-fashioned” guy unqualified to lead the world’s largest automaker through the electric revolution.

However, since then, the Japanese corporation has done little to embrace a fully electric future, instead relying heavily on its massively successful hybrid vehicles, which often generate more planet-heating pollution than electric vehicles.

Toyota Is Stepping Up Its Hybrid Production As EV Sales Slow. But What Does This Signify For The Planet?

According to auto experts, the company’s hesitancy about EVs was not a mistake but rather a planned approach to offering consumers what they want. While EV sales are increasing, issues such as price, battery range, and a scarcity of charging stations are slowing the increase in demand.

Toyota’s decision to prioritize hybrids has paid off handsomely: the business is smashing its competitors, including all-electric Tesla. It sold 11.2 million vehicles worldwide last year, more than any other carmaker. A third were hybrids, while less than 1% were EVs.

Research by climate think tank InfluenceMap and a Toyota memo obtained by CNN demonstrates how hard the firm has lobbied governments worldwide to keep hybrids on the road for decades. Toyota vehemently opposes decisions in some of its most important markets, particularly the United States, that place EVs at the core of the clean-energy transportation shift.

Toyota told CNN that it shares “the objective of reducing carbon as much as possible, as soon as possible.” However, the corporation has been very critical of President Joe Biden’s administration’s EV policy, particularly its proposed rule that would compel up to two-thirds of new car sales to be EVs by the start of the next decade.

Some analysts believe Toyota’s campaigning is dragging up the EV market, and Toyota’s intentions will have far-reaching consequences for global warming. Road transportation contributes around 25% of worldwide carbon pollution. As the industry leader, Toyota’s competitors will contemplate following suit.

According to Daniel Sperling, founding director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, if Toyota adopted EVs sooner, it would encourage others to follow suit.

He stated, “It would put a lot more pressure on Ford or GM to move faster. “It would also pressure the EPA to move faster.”

As other automakers begin to reconsider their own EV expenditures, experts debate what role EVs and hybrids will play in the future. Those more concerned about the climate problem are asking a larger question: what does this all mean for the planet?

Which cars are the most polluting?
To determine how much global warming pollution an automobile emits, its entire life cycle must be considered, not just what comes out of the tailpipe but also what it took to construct and transport the car to the dealership.

Gas-powered automobiles, hybrids, and EVs all create nearly the same amount of pollutants in manufacturing, except for the battery.

Fully electric vehicles have enormous batteries produced from resources that require extensive mining. According to one study, on average, they emit 40% more pollution than hybrid and gas-powered vehicles.

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Toyota Is Stepping Up Its Hybrid Production As EV Sales Slow. But What Does This Signify For The Planet?

However, the picture varies over their entire life cycle. Gas-powered vehicles are the cleanest to manufacture but the dirtiest during their lifespan due to significant exhaust pollution.

EVs may be the most carbon-intensive to build, but they generate the least carbon emissions over their lifetime: 40% less than gas-powered vehicles. Another study found that after around two years, the pollution savings from driving an EV offset the pollution caused during production.

Hybrids are in the middle; on average, they emit 17% more carbon pollution than EVs. However, not all hybrids are made equal.

A pure hybrid uses gasoline and stores excess energy from the brakes and, occasionally, the gas engine, making it more fuel-efficient than a standard car.

Plug-in hybrids provide the reliability and range of gas cars while emitting less pollution and using less fuel. They are also more affordable than electric vehicles. Plug-in hybrids employ EV-like batteries and can normally travel 20 to 40 miles on electricity, but they also include fuel tanks and can convert to pure hybrids when the battery is low.

Some plug-in hybrids compete with EVs in terms of total life-cycle pollutants. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s 2024 rankings, Toyota’s plug-in hybrid, the Prius Prime SE, is the least polluting car on American roads, including EVs. This is due to a mix of variables, including the Prime’s weight and design, which increase fuel efficiency.

According to InfluenceMap, a climate think tank that analyzed the company’s engagement activities, Toyota has been lobbying governments for at least three years to stall the transition to all-electric vehicles. The report states that Toyota has done so in several countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

In a 2022 analysis, InfluenceMap placed Toyota as the tenth most influential firm in the world opposing climate policy action out of over 400 in its database.

Toyota, other automakers, and an auto trade association strongly opposed the EPA’s proposed tailpipe rule. Two individuals familiar with the plan told CNN in February that the Biden administration is considering delaying the tough standards slated to begin in 2027 until after 2030. That would eventually cut as much pollution as the original proposal, but more gradually, resulting in more pollution in the short run.

Toyota would benefit greatly from such a delay, given that, according to Cox Automotive and Kelley Blue Book, it supplied only 1.3% of EVs in the United States last year but more than 14% of all automobiles under the Toyota and Lexus brands.

toyota

Toyota Is Stepping Up Its Hybrid Production As EV Sales Slow. But What Does This Signify For The Planet?

Toyota has publicly opposed EV objectives in numerous nations. However, a letter sent to car dealers all over the country in the fall of 2023 that CNN was able to obtain shows how determined the company is to weaken the US government’s electric vehicle laws.

In the document, Toyota Motor North America group vice president of government affairs Stephen Ciccone blasted the EPA’s EV proposal as “draconian,” stating it was bad for the environment, the country, the consumer, And the auto industry.

“Never before in the 120-year history of the US auto industry has an administration used its power more forcibly to dictate the future of the auto industry,” Ciccone said in the email, claiming the EPA’s mandate had generated an “existential crisis” in the industry.

“For more than two years, Toyota and our dealer partners have stood alone in the fight against unrealistic BEV mandates,” Ciccone stated, referring to battery electric vehicles. “We have received a lot of criticism from environmentalists, the media, and some politicians. But we haven’t—and will not—back down.”

Toyota verified the memo’s veracity but did not provide any specific comments. Some of Toyota’s shareholders are speaking out against the company’s bad climate campaigning, like the Danish pension fund AkademikerPension, which stated in a letter that Toyota was becoming “a global laggard status on climate action within the auto sector.”

“Toyota is a conservative, cautious company,” UC’s Sperling explained. “Their incrementalist approach is to support plug-in hybrids. That is their next step, and it is not disruptive to the market or the consumer. They move slowly, but they do good engineering. You look at their behavior now; in that environment, it’s not shocking.”

SOURCE – (CNN)

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

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Boeing Whistleblower Died By Suicide, Police Investigation Reveals

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Boeing whistleblower John Barnett committed suicide, according to a police report released on Friday, bringing an investigation into the shocking death of a longtime employee who raised concerns about the airplane manufacturer’s safety and production standards – and who sued the company, alleging illegal retaliation against him.

Barnett, 62, was discovered dead in a vehicle on March 9 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Charleston, South Carolina. Officers were summoned to perform a welfare check on Barnett at a Holiday Inn after he failed to appear for a deposition in his complaint against Boeing, according to his lawyers and a police incident report.

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Boeing Whistleblower Died By Suicide, Police Investigation Reveals

When responding officers arrived, they discovered Barnett deceased in the driver’s seat of a truck in the parking lot. He was clutching a firearm. The initial police report also stated a message in the truck.

However, in a statement released after his death, Barnett’s lawyers stated that his deposition was nearing completion and that he appeared to be in high spirits.

“We saw no sign that he would commit suicide. “No one can believe it,” his attorneys, Robert Turkewitz and Brian Knowles, stated in a statement on March 12. “The Charleston police need to investigate this fully and accurately and tell the public what they find out.”

The Charleston Police Department announced Friday that the Charleston County Coroner’s Office had decided that Barnett had committed suicide.

The inquiry revealed that Barnett was shot in the head at close range, with the firearm located in his right hand. A notebook was also discovered in the front seat of the car, indicating that “he was going through a period of serious personal distress,” according to a police press statement.

Police provided CNN with a photograph of a note left in the car, which had several nasty statements addressed at Boeing.

“As this investigation comes to a close, we should not forget it represents the loss of Mr. Barnett’s life,” police stated. “We extend our deepest sympathies to his family during this difficult time and hope they continue to find the strength to persevere in absence.”

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Boeing Whistleblower Died By Suicide, Police Investigation Reveals

Boeing did not immediately respond to requests for comment. In March, the firm expressed its sadness at Barnett’s death.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends,” the business stated.

Barnett, a former quality manager who had worked at Boeing for decades, told the New York Times in 2019 that he had uncovered dangerous wiring clusters in Boeing’s manufacturing procedures that could have resulted in an aircraft’s catastrophic failure if severed by surrounding metal slivers.

“As a quality manager at Boeing, you’re the last line of defense before a defect makes it out to the flying public,” Barnett told the New York Times. “And I haven’t seen a plane out of Charleston yet that I’d put my name on saying it’s safe and airworthy.”

In a message issued to the facility’s employees and sent to CNN at the time, Brad Zaback, a site leader at the plant and general manager of the 787 program, stated that the Times’ coverage “paints a skewed and inaccurate picture of the program and of our team (at the plant).”

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Boeing Whistleblower Died By Suicide, Police Investigation Reveals

Zaback, who said the Times denied an invitation to tour the company, stated that “quality is the bedrock of who we are” and that the plant produces “the highest-quality airplanes.”

Since Barnett’s original public warnings about Boeing, the corporation has had multiple high-profile safety and quality issues, including the explosion of a door stopper on a 737 Max shortly after takeoff last January. This prompted the US Justice Department to announce that Boeing could face criminal charges for its history of safety issues.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Bike Shops Boomed Early In The Pandemic. It’s Been A Bumpy Ride For Most Ever Since

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For the nation’s bicycle stores, the last several years have certainly felt like the business version of the Tour de France, with innumerable twists and turns testing their stamina.

Early in the pandemic, a surge in interest in cycling drove sales up 64% to $5.4 billion in 2020, according to Circana, the retail tracking firm. It wasn’t uncommon for some stores to sell 100 or more bikes in a few days.

The boom did not last. Due to pandemic-related supply chain challenges, the retailers sold out of bikes and struggled to replenish. Inventory has caught up, but fewer people require new bicycles. Bicycle manufacturers have started lowering prices to clear off excess inventory. It all adds up to a challenging climate for retailers, with a few bright areas such as dirt and e-bikes.

“The industry had a hard time keeping up with demand for a couple of years, but then demand slowed as the lockdowns ended, and a lot of inventory started showing up,” said Stephen Frothingham, editor-in-chief of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News. “So now for the last, a year and a half, the industry has struggled with having too much inventory, at the supplier level, at the factory level, at the distributor level, at the retail level.”

Circana reports that bike sales will reach $4.1 billion in 2023, up 23% from 2019 but down 24% from 2020. The recovery from the epidemic has been uneven, with large businesses such as REI and Scheels recovering faster than independent bike shops, according to Matt Tucker, director of client development for Circana’s sports equipment business.

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Pixa Bay – VOR News Image

Bike Shops Boomed Early In The Pandemic. It’s Been A Bumpy Ride For Most Ever Since

John McDonell, owner of Market Street Cycles on San Francisco’s famed Market Street, says the pandemic’s shift to hybrid labor has been especially difficult for business. During the summer, 3,000 bikes would pass by his shop each day. With fewer individuals commuting to work, that number has dropped to less than 1,000.

According to Pacer.ai, which tracks people’s activities based on smartphone usage, San Francisco falls behind all other major cities regarding workers returning to work, with office visits down 49% from April 2019.

“Our downtown is still a wasteland,” McDonell explained.

Independent bike stores now compete not only with national chains but also with bike manufacturers such as Specialized and Trek. These companies have been buying bike shops and selling their bikes directly to customers, thus eliminating the middleman. According to Frothingham, there are now over 1,000 bike shops in the country that are either owned by Trek or Specialized.

“They’ve got the money to absorb the fact that bike stores, you know, are not a super profitable thing, and in the process, they’ve also been able to cut us out of it,” McDonell stated.

McDonell has been obliged to use a skeleton team of himself and another employee, down from five earlier. His desire to sell his shop to a younger bike enthusiast when he retires is diminishing. He might close his store when his lease expires in a few years.

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Pixa Bay – VOR News Image

Bike Shops Boomed Early In The Pandemic. It’s Been A Bumpy Ride For Most Ever Since

“Now I am just trying to land it with both engines on fire and trying not to lose money on my way out,” he stated

Douglas Emerson’s bike business, University Bicycles, in Boulder, Colorado, is doing better, thanks to its placement in one of the country’s most popular biking destinations. He’s owned the shop for 39 years and employs 30 people.

University Bicycles, like other bike retailers, experienced a surge in bike sales due to the pandemic. Emerson recalls selling 107 bicycles in 48 hours. However, immediately following the boom, sales fell considerably due to a lack of inventory, and rentals declined because no one was traveling.

“It became a struggle right after the boom,” Emerson explained. “Since then, manufacturers have overproduced.” In addition, they have significantly reduced prices, which benefits consumers. However, tiny retailers generally cannot take advantage of those discounts.”

Emerson claims the shop hit a “saturation point” when everyone who wanted a bike purchased one. He now sells these consumer items such as jackets, helmets, and locks. His store has returned to its 2019 sales figures.

University Bicycles has also benefited from some of the changes in purchasing trends. The continued strong demand for e-bikes and the increased need for children’s bikes have contributed. Gravel bikes, which can be ridden on both paved and dirt routes, are displacing road cycles as a top seller.

John Ruger, a 50-year biker and faithful University Bicycles client, hasn’t purchased a bike in ten years but intends to buy a gravel bike at present costs. He says a top gravel bike he’s interested in, which would normally cost $12,000 to $14,000, is presently on sale for $8,000.

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Pixa Bay – VOR News Image

Bike Shops Boomed Early In The Pandemic. It’s Been A Bumpy Ride For Most Ever Since

“The timing is good,” he remarked. “I can get a bike now because they’re less expensive and my bikes are getting old.”

Shawna Williams, the owner of Free Range Cycles in Seattle, Washington, did not see the same sales boom as others because her 700-square-foot business was so small that she only accepted customers by appointment from March 2020 to May 2021.

However, Williams did have to deal with the coming shortages. She spent a great deal of time “checking in with other shops to see if we could buy something, even at retail, from them, just in order to get a repair done or a build done.”

She expanded her service offerings, such as repairs and maintenance, to compensate for decreasing bike sales. Despite the epidemic, the maneuvering allowed her to maintain consistent overall sales.

“Bike sales, the way that I have kind of framed the shop, are an awesome bonus, but we really need to be sustaining the shop through repair and, like, thoughtful accessory sales,” Williams stated. “A bike sale to me, if we do things well, that means creating a customer for life.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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OpenAI, Reddit Teaming In Deal That Will Bring Reddit’s Content To ChatGPT

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OpenAI and Reddit have partnered to deliver the social media platform’s content to ChatGPT.

Reddit’s share price increased by more than 10% before the market opened on Friday.

Reddit stated in a blog post that the partnership will grant OpenAI access to its data application programming interface, which provides real-time, structured, and unique content from the platform.

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OpenAI, Reddit Teaming In Deal That Will Bring Reddit’s Content To ChatGPT

Reddit users and moderators will also have access to new artificial intelligence-powered services, and OpenAI will be a Reddit advertising partner.

“Reddit has become one of the internet’s largest open archives of authentic, relevant, and always up-to-date human conversations about anything and everything,” co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman stated. “Including it in ChatGPT upholds our belief in a connected internet, helps people find more of what they’re looking for, and helps new audiences find community on Reddit.”

Reddit stated that the agreement is consistent with prior content arrangements and does not modify its data API or developer rules. These rules state that content obtained via Reddit’s data API cannot be utilized for commercial reasons without the platform’s approval.

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OpenAI, Reddit Teaming In Deal That Will Bring Reddit’s Content To ChatGPT

Reddit says API access remains free for non-commercial use under the published level.

“We are thrilled to partner with Reddit to enhance ChatGPT with uniquely timely and relevant information, as well as to explore the possibilities of enriching the Reddit experience with AI-powered features,” Brad Lightcap, OpenAI’s chief operating officer, said in a statement.

Reddit made its Wall Street debut in March, with investors driving the company’s worth to nearly $9 billion seconds after it started trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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AP – VOR news Image

OpenAI, Reddit Teaming In Deal That Will Bring Reddit’s Content To ChatGPT

Reddit has a sizable audience that visits the site regularly to debate a wide range of topics, from stupid memes to existential concerns, and receive suggestions from like-minded individuals.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman invested in Reddit early on, becoming one of the company’s largest owners.

SOURCE – (AP)

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