Toyota stand accused this week of putting the 'bull' into Bullring[1] with a fuel- hungry 4-wheel drive vehicle masquerading as being 'good for the environment'.

The ravenous RAV4 emits 207g/km carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas human emissions of which are thought to cause global warming. These emissions earn
the RAV4 a firm "F" rating in the UK's new A-F labelling scheme[2] and yet the vehicle is currently displayed in Birmingham's largest shopping centre next to a board proclaiming Toyota's commitment to protecting the environment.

Birmingham FOE campaigner Rob Pilling of said:

"Toyota are talking a load of bull. The RAV is a beast of car and to display it right in front of their environment claim is absurd. It is true that there are worse offenders on the road, but this vehicle emits well above the UK average. It is simply not an environmentally friendly option."

There are many better cars to choose from. For example, Toyota manufactures the Prius, a hybrid vehicle, which emits 104 g/km carbon dioxide, half that
of the RAV4. This earns it a more respectable B rating.

Birmingham FOE say if Toyota is determined to promote cars in the Bullring, they should stick to ones like this. They should also display the new energy
labels in a prominent position. This makes it easier for prospective buyers to choose the greenest models.

Even so, Birmingham FOE believe that sustainable transport is about a lot more than technology fixes. Even A-rated cars create problems with
congestion, noise, safety, air quality, land take and social exclusion.

Rob continued:

"We desperately need to reduce our dependence on private cars. We need to make more journeys on public transport and by walking and cycling."

In this context, Toyota would have to change their stance dramatically in order to live up to their environmental rhetoric.

Editor's Notes

1. Toyota GB have teamed up with local dealerships and a marketing company to run promotions in the UK's premier shopping malls. They have already
visited the Trafford Centre and are currently located in the Birmingham Bullring (31st Jan – 10th April). Next on the list is BlueWater in Kent The Bullring stand consists of three vehicles and various poster displays. The posters focus on Toyota 'Past, Present and Future' and there is a prominent board exalting Toyota's Environmental credentials (' Toyota – committed to the protection the environment'). A prize draw gives an added attraction. The cars currently on display are all 'F band' rated with above average carbon dioxide emissions. They include a RAV4.

2. A colour-coded labelling scheme for new cars, warning potential buyers of their impact on global warming, was launched on 10th Feb 2005. The long awaited initiative was welcomed by Friends of the Earth, even though increasing tax on gas-guzzlers and reducing it for fuel-efficient vehicles would be more effective in encouraging the purchase of greener cars.

Nearly all four-wheel drives will suffer the ignominy of having to display red stickers, while smaller, fuel-efficient road cars will sport labels in shades of green.

How green is your car? Government measures will categorise vehicles according to the number of grams of carbon dioxide emitted per kilometre travelled (g/km). The bandings are listed below with examples from each class.

Band A (less than 100 g/km, e.g. Honda Insight – 80)
Band B (101 to 120 g/km, e.g. Toyota Prius – 104)
Band C (121 to 150, e.g. Fiat Panda 1.1 Active -135)
Band D (151 to 165, e.g. Citroen Xsara 1.4i Forte -159)
Band E (166 to 185, e.g. Ford Mondeo 1.8 SCi Ghia -179, Rover 45 1.4 -168).
Band F (more than 185, Lamborghini Murcielago – 500, BMW 520i SE -219).