Lobbying at its most intriguing

January 29, 2009

A friend told me a story this week which gives some real insight into how sly lobbyists can be. A few years ago in California, Toyota and the US big 3 (GM, Ford and Chrysler) lobbied hard against stricter regulation governing emissions. This seemed odd at first. Toyota have spent years and billions in developing cars that produce fewer emissions – surely they’d want stricter emissions regulations as this would enable them to exercise their competitive edge?

Not quite. As ever, Toyota are a forward-thinking company (see my previous post):

  1. They understood that they have a competitive edge over the big 3 globally because they produce cars that are more environmentally friendly.
  2. They understood that the prospect of losing out on a huge market like California might finally move the big 3 to start investing more in hybrid technology and other less petrol-guzzling alternatives.
  3. Conclusion? They prefer having to compete with the big 3’s SUVs in California than have them invest in R&D which might in a few years make them viable competitors in the global hybrid car sector.

That’s clever. What I’d be curious to know is:  Toyota and the big 3 presumably sat down and co-ordinated their efforts at some point. Did the big 3 know they were being duped? And could the Toyota execs and lobbyists keep the smirks off their faces?

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