Toyota and BMW were called out by climate activists this weekend during the Brussels Motor Show. In the spring of 2022, Toyota said that it might stop manufacturing in the UK due to a government policy mandating a rapid switch to fully electric vehicles. However, the automaker recently invested in UK manufacturing for an engine plant to support the start of its European production of its fifth generation of a hybrid electric powertrain.
Toyota’s president, Akio Toyoda, has been vocal about his thoughts regarding electric vehicles and has even compared Tesla to a kitchen without a chef noting that it didn’t have a real business. However, the legacy automaker has been changing its EV strategy to compete with Tesla and BYD.
BMW’s CEO Oliver Zipse also cautioned against an electric-only strategy. “When you look at the technology coming out, the EV push, we must be careful because, at the same time, you increase dependency on very few countries,” he said.
“If someone cannot buy an EV for some reason but needs a car, would you rather propose he continues to drive his old car forever? If you are not selling combustion engines anymore, someone else will,” he added.
The stance of these two automakers toward electric vehicles is what inspired activists to hijack over 400 advertising billboards, and bus stops in the UK, Germany, Belgium, and France timed with the Brussels Motor Show.
The ads, designed by several artists and featuring images of Toyota and BMW vehicles, were installed by climate activities from Subvertisers International, Brandalism, and Extinction Rebellion. The activists demand robust policies from governments to regulate the advertising of environmentally harmful products and the prevention of misleading ‘green’ campaigns from large polluters.
Brandalism spokesperson, Tona Merriman, gave the following statement:
“Toyota has pushed their ‘Beyond Zero’ sustainability adverts whilst lobbying governments around the world to weaken air quality plans and threatening legal action to protect their profits over a liveable climate. Their adverts are duplicitous.”
Teslarati reached out to the three groups for additional comments. Brandalism’s Tona Merriman gave an idea of a solution that Toyota and BMW could implement to improve. She said:
“We actually feel that encouraging everyone to have their own private car is part of the problem. There just isn’t the space for them in our cities, especially the oversized SUVs that all the car brands are pushing. We need new forms of urban mobility based on clean, affordable public transport and decent infrastructure for walking and cycling, as in the Netherlands and Denmark.”
“However, within the framework of being for-profit companies, both Toyota and BMW should set Science-Based Targets for ending their production of ICE cars by 2030. They should also stop marketing SUVs to urban consumers, whether ICE or electric.”
Teslarati also obtained photos of the advertisements, and you can view them in the gallery below.
Disclosure: Johnna is a $TSLA shareholder and believes in Tesla’s mission.
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