More Prius Humor from the Wall Street Journal

ph-jenkins.jpgNot content with the response he received from his last article, WSJ Humorist Holman Jenkins Jr. is at it again with his wild and crazy economic analyses:

"Doesn't saving oil have benefits beyond the dollars save- for instance, postponing the doom of civilization?

No: If Prius owners consume less, there's less demand, prices will be lower and somebody else will step up to consume more than they would at the otherwise higher price."

and our favourite zinger:

But wouldn't using less oil make us less dependent on Mideast imports?

Just the opposite: In the nature of things, the cheapest oil is consumed first, and Mideast oil is the cheapest. Drive a Hummer if you want to reduce America's reliance on Arab oil. Indeed, if we all pull together and drive gasoline prices high enough, we'd be able to satisfy all our fuel needs next door from Canadian oil sands."

And, rehearsing his host-on-SNL money shot: "Prius fans might do the planet more good by convincing the American Public of the merits of nuclear energy, the closest thing to a genuinely "green solution" to energy challenges in the real world."

The hall was quiet as one joke fell too close to the truth: "There are 89 vehicles made by major auto makers that rate 40 miles to the gallon or better [that you cannot buy here]....Such fuel scrimpers sell in Europe because gas retails $ 5 a gallon .... Americans are equally sensible when they skip over efficiency in favor of features that are important to them, such as size, comfort and horsepower"

We apologise to Junior. In his last article we thought he was being serious. Now we realize his real intent and ambition- a life as a comic.

Toyota fell for it as well- here is their response to the last article:

In response to Holman W. Jenkins Jr.'s Nov. 30 Business World column "Dear Valued Hybrid Customer . . ." criticizing Toyota's hybrids: I'd like to set the record straight.

Toyota is committed to hybrid technology because it makes sense for our customers, for our dealers, for society and, yes, for our business. The Prius has captured minds and market share because it provides a sensible alternative for people looking for a mid-sized passenger sedan that offers twice the fuel economy and tremendous environmental benefits. Our Highlander Hybrid and Lexus RX 400h SUVs offer significant fuel savings compared to the V8 SUVs people are trading in, not to mention being 80% cleaner for smog-forming emissions.

Mr. Jenkins used some inventive math to try to make the case against hybrids, including saying a comparable car to the Prius costs $9,500 less. I'd like to provide some different numbers that speak to the real heart of this matter -- customer acceptance. This year, a Consumer Reports survey of more than 250,000 car owners ranked the Prius as the most satisfying vehicle, with 94% saying they'd buy one again.

Another significant number is 100 million -- that's the gallons of gas we estimate our U.S. hybrids have saved since the Prius debuted in 2000. That's enough to fuel a fleet of 200,000 delivery vehicles for a year. As much as I'd like to take credit by saying we are brilliant marketers and have painted a green picture to sell our products, the people who purchase our vehicles know the truth -- our cars tell the story for us. And we believe they will continue to do so, which is why we're introducing a hybrid version of the Lexus GS next year, as well as putting a hybrid powertrain in America's most popular car, the Camry.

We understand that Mr. Jenkins and other naysayers will continue to target Toyota as the leader in hybrid technology because innovation and technological progress can be intimidating for some people. That's what the free market and free speech are about. Ultimately, consumers know what's best for them and they will make the choice with their pocketbooks.

Jim Press
President and Chief Operating Officer
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.
Managing Officer
Toyota Motor Corp.
Torrance, Calif.

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