The automaker's U.S. sales manager is confronted by environmental activists at the L.A. Auto Show.
AP - Nov. 18, 2007
Toyota Sequoia’s and Tundra’s overwhelmed the Toyota show floor in LA. -- Ed.
LOS ANGELES -- Toyota Motor Corp. is usually the darling of the Los Angeles Auto Show, but testy relations with environmentalists and questions about quality are making the show a headache for the automaker this year.
It doesn't help that Toyota chose to introduce a full-size sport utility vehicle at the show, and the redesigned Sequoia doesn't have a hybrid option like full-size SUVs from General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC that are debuting across the show floor. The Los Angeles show opens to the public Friday after two days of media previews.
After the Sequoia was introduced Wednesday, an environmental activist with a video camera approached Toyota's general manager for U.S. sales, Bob Carter, and asked why the company won't withdraw from a lawsuit against California, which has sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to establish tougher fuel economy rules.
Carter refused to answer and knocked the camera out of Brent Olson's hands. Olson, of San Francisco-based Rainforest Action Network, was eventually led away by two policemen.
A handful of protesters also picketed Toyota outside the show and planned further protests Thursday.
After the spat, Carter said Toyota and environmentalists have more in common than not, and that Toyota supports tougher fuel economy standards but doesn't want them decided at the state level.
"We believe it's best applied at the federal level," he said. "We're a full-line manufacturer and we want to meet consumer needs."
He added that despite the rise in fuel prices, many U.S. buyers simply need the utility and space of a full-size SUV.
The Sequoia has a new 5.7-liter, V-8 engine that is more powerful - at 381 horsepower - and more fuel efficient than the old engine. It also has improved aerodynamics to save fuel, and the company plans to introduce an ethanol-capable version in the fall of 2008. Pricing wasn't announced for the new Sequoia, which goes on sale in December… [Read More]