Toyota Turns On Fuel Cells, but Blocks Mexico Fuel Economy Law

Just as we heard Toyota’s powering its US headquarters on fuel cells, we also heard the company is preventing Mexico from implementing higher fuel economy standards.

Toyota announced that a 1.1 megawatt hydrogen fuel cell is now operating at its California headquarters campus, which will supply about half the electricity for six buildings during peak demand.

No, it’s not the Bloom Box we keep hearing so much about, this one is built by Ballard Power Systems, the largest Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) stationary fuel cell of its kind, and the first supplied by Ballard.

The fuel cell is powered by hydrogen gas fed directly from a pre-existing industrial hydrogen pipeline, also a first for
this technology. The pipeline also supplies a hydrogen filling station that will fuel Toyota’s and other manufacturers fuel cell hybrid vehicle fleets.

The hydrogen is made by natural gas reformation. To mitigate those emissions, Toyota is buying landfill generated biogas.

"Supporting alternative energy sources like hydrogen supports Toyota’s overarching commitment to lessen our impact on the environment and drive forward innovative technology," says Bob Daly, senior vice president. "Not only will this new hydrogen fuel cell generator reduce the environmental
footprint of our headquarters campus, but it showcases the power and potential of hydrogen as a fuel source."

Toyota expects to save $130,000 a year by buying less energy from the grid.

Toyota’s Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle, which it plans to debut in 2015, is also powered by PEM technology.

The company is also part of partnership marketing residential fuel cell systems in Japan.

Against Mexico Fuel Economy Standard

Toyota is seeing record sales for its fuel sipping Prius family this year, so why would it prevent Mexico from implementing aggressive fuel economy standards? 

"In a baffling turn of events, Toyota has been working on a secretive legal strategy to block new fuel efficiency and carbon pollution standards in Mexico, essentially the very same standards that they support here in the U.S.," says Roland Hwang of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). 

Mexico’s standards would be the same as recently passed in the US – 35 mpg by 2016, and which are in place in Canada. The idea is to harmonize the standards across North America.

While Toyota supports the US standards, as well as the next phase which raises them to 54.5 mpg by 2025, they have actively worked to block them in Mexico.

Toyota didn’t object during Mexico’s 60-day comment period, but in early September they secretly filed a lawsuit to stop the proposal from even being considered, reports Rich Kassel in his NRDC blog.

On September 20, a court notified the federal government that it had issued an injunction against proceeding with finalizing the fuel economy standard.

This isn’t the first time Toyota has shown "two faces" on fuel economy. Back in 2007, it joined all the other car makers in opposing more stringent US fuel economy standards. NRDC alerted Prius owners, and at least 100,000 took action. Toyota responded by reversing the position and eventually supported the stronger standard.

Interestingly, according the average person, Toyota is the perceived as the world’s ‘Best Global Green Brand.’ Yesterday, we published a story on top corporations using green criteria .. and Toyota wasn’t on the list.

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