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Toyota Releases “Sustainability Report 2008”, Looks to “Liquid Peak”

By Jack Rosebro

Blueprint of Toyota propulsion and fuel technology development,  2008-2030+. Click to enlarge.

Concurrent with the release of its annual financial report, Toyota has published Sustainability Report 2008: Towards a New Future for People, Society, and the Planet. The report, which is the third since Toyota switched from environmental to sustainability reports in 2006, is structured around three themes: sustainable mobility (products), sustainable plant initiatives (manufacturing), and contributing to the development of a sustainable society—also referred to as “nurturing society.”

The themes constitute the foundation of Toyota’s vision of the global corporate image that it wants to achieve by 2020. Global Vision 2020 was developed last year on the occasion of the company’s 70th anniversary, and envisions a society in which “cycles of nature” operate in harmony with “cycles of industry”, leading to, in the words of Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe, a “prosperous, low-carbon society”.

Sustainable Mobility

2001-2007 CO2 reduction, per Toyota vehicle and per unit of sales revenue. Click to enlarge.

As part of its efforts toward the vision, Toyota implemented the Fourth Toyota Environmental Action Plan in 2006. One goal of the plan was to continue the work commenced in the Third Environmental Action Plan, with a resultant 20% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020, as compared to 2001 emissions. According to Toyota, the company has already realized a reduction of 32%. However, this reduction refers to total carbon dioxide emissions per unit of sales, rather than total emissions. Toyota now produces 50% more vehicles per year than it did in 2001.

Reduced fuel consumption per vehicle is one of Toyota’s primary strategies against environmental deterioration. According to the company, the average fuel efficiency of new Toyota passenger vehicles sold in Japan, Europe and the US increased by 17.4% between 1997 and 2007. Toyota and other automakers often calculate this trend in terms of improvement per gross income unit as well as per vehicle; were Toyota to expand that rate of fuel efficiency improvements worldwide, and maintain the rate of improvement for the next two decades, the company would see a cumulative fuel efficiency improvement, per average vehicle, of almost 40%.

2001-2007 Toyota vehicle production worldwide. Click to enlarge.

However, if vehicle sales growth were to continue at the 4.6% rate that Toyota saw in 2007-2008—termed a “severe” year by Watanabe—the company’s vehicle production would more than double by 2028. An across-the-board 40% reduction of vehicle fuel consumption—and therefore greenhouse gas production—would not be sufficient to prevent a net increase of greenhouse gas emissions produced by vehicles built and sold in that year.

Approximately 800 to 900 million passenger vehicles exist worldwide, increasing by around 100 million vehicles every five years for the past two decades. Toyota projects that “this increase is expected to continue in the future, particularly in developing countries, meaning that ownership will likely exceed 1 billion vehicles in 2010 and reach 1.5 billion vehicles in 2020.”

Although an explicit strategy to reduce the overall greenhouse gas production of its products is noticeably absent from the Toyota’s greenhouse gas reduction goals, Sustainability Report 2008 reflects signs of concern within the company that externalities may bring growth to a halt before that time:

Additionally, with the continuing expansion of the economies of the BRICs countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), which have experienced tremendous growth since the 1990's, global energy consumption is forecast to continue rising. This situation increases both the possibility of supply shortages and resource exhaustion, and the severity of the air pollution issue caused by production activities in factories and the use of vehicles for logistical and human transportation.

A recent presentation by Toyota’s Bill Reinert, who coordinates research, development and marketing activities related to alternative-fueled vehicles and emerging technologies for Toyota Motor Sales USA, brought those concerns into focus. At July’s Meeting of the Minds conference on sustainable cities in Portland, for which Toyota was the lead sponsor, Reinert stated that according to Toyota’s research, a nexus of energy demands and resource depletion could well create a “liquid peak” within a decade, even if all available liquid fuels were to be produced at maximum global capacity without concern for environmental degradation.

In addition to its research on hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel-cell hybrids, Toyota is collaborating with Nippon Oil on biohydrorefined diesel oil (BHD) (earlier post), and is researching biomass-to-liquid (BTL) fuels. The company “hopes to begin production” of cellulosic ethanol as soon as possible.

Sustainable Plant Initiatives

The environmental flagship of Toyota’s manufacturing facilities is its Tsutsumi plant, which the company says has moved closest to their goal of manufacturing that “fully utilizes natural resources, while operating in harmony with the natural environment”. As of the end of fiscal year 2006, CO2 emissions from Tsutsumi, which produces the Prius, had been halved compared to 1990 levels. A 2 MW photovoltaic power generation system, in parallel with battery energy storage, provides about half of the electricity in the plant’s assembly area.

Extensive afforestation around Tsutsumi has utilized 55 different species of trees in an effort to support wildlife habitats, and the exterior of the plant has been painted with photocatalytic paint that breaks down nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and other emissions.

One plant in each of Toyota’s major manufacturing regions will serve as a “model sustainable plant” to encourage sustainable manufacturing worldwide. Toyota’s recently constructed Ban Pho plant in Thailand was designed to be the new model plant in Asia, eclipsing Tsutsumi. Like Tsutsumi, Ban Pho utilizes solar power as well as on-site cogeneration. Ban Pho is unique in that it has produced zero landfill waste from the beginning of its operation.

Toyota also estimates that its worldwide water consumption from all activities has dropped about 5% since 2003, to 15.4 million cubic meters per year, despite increased sales.

Nurturing Society

A significant portion of the “social contribution” section of Sustainable Report 2008 is devoted to Toyota’s development of partner robots. More than 20% of Japan’s population were aged 65 years or older in 2005, and that percentage is expected to double by 2055, creating a “seniors caring for seniors” society. In addition to its development of manufacturing robots, Toyota is developing robots that are designed to assist with nursing and medical care in addition to domestic duties. The company envisions commercial applications of “lifestyles that include robots” sometime in the next decade.

The report also highlights Toyota’s Environmental Activities Grant Program as part of the company’s social contribution. Approximately ¥1.4 billion (US$12.9 million) in grants have been distributed worldwide.



Wow someone's looking beyond next quarter. Thanks to Japanese leadership there is hope yet for this planet. GM, Ford, and Chrysler take note, it's called "vision." Only when the life on earth is sustainable will profits be sustainable.


So why didn't Toyota use this 'Vision' to see that they needed to build more Prius for this year?


If they gave a rats arse about the evironment they would be encouraging us to buy electric NEV's and take public transport.

Sorry folks but they just want their little party to go on forever. This is another plausible sounding but unsustainable proposal. We can all lap it up and continue with the group denial.

Personal transport for all, with 9 billion people on the planet..... Ain't gonna happen.

Pop! just like the housing bubble, dot com bust .... etc etc

Henry Gibson

Factories that produce no landfill waste are impressive; their methods could be well emulated by many sewage plants.

There are quite a few to many life forms known as humans on this planet. There is no sustainablility available for the other lifeforms that have been displaced, so there is no over all sustainability. There is massive wasting of capital resources and natural resources.

The only major source of the earth's wealth at the moment are fossil fuels. They have allowed the massive growth of world and nation population and promoted the extraction of the minerals necessary for the economies of the worlds civilizations.

The limitations of the local environmental impact of these factories are a model to the world. And if the vehicles produced went to replacing existing vehicles, the CO2 reduction would also be a benefit. It must be quietly questioned if the production of the vehicles actually creates just a further demand, though more efficient, on fossil resources. The production of a single vehicle demands more fossil CO2 release than many of the earth's humans will release in a lifetime.

The unlimited danger of nuclear power is not that of spent fuel, all of which could be hid under the ashpile of a single large coalfired power plant, but in the very cheap energy that will allow humans to be more extravagent of the environment than ever before.

Probably many millions of petroleum dollars are at work every year in the hands of any even slightly anti-nuclear effort. Both France and England shut down all of their major oil burning power plants. Hardly a rererence is made to all of the radon in natural gas, but every radio-active material release from the nuclear industry, even if it is far below permitted and very safe quantities, is published world wide.

All animals and plants have always had built in radioactivity inside the very live cells, and they learned to prosper with it even; also life has always been bombarded with nuclear rays from the earth and space, so obviously there is a level of radioactivity that allows a life to exist for many many years.

Perhaps Toyota will fund and build nuclear power plants that eliminate an amount of CO2 being released equal to what it uses in the production of its cars plus the amount used during the life of all their vehicles produced. ..HG..


Personal transport for 9 billion might work like this.

Thresholds are as an example:

Poorest billion: Feet

next billion: Shoes

next 2 billion: bicycles

next 2 billion: buses / public transport

next 1 billion: motorbikes

Next 2 billion cars

Once you get to bicycles, you are in reasonable shape.

In many advanced cities (Copenhagen / Amsterdam) wealthy people cycle by choice or due to congestion.

You could use e-bikes instead of ICE motorbikes as a technology leapfrog - you won't go as fast as a Honda50, but you will sweat a lot less than a pushbike.

And you will need much less batteries that a 4 wheeler.

However, I don't think we will ever get to personal transport for 9 billion by EV or Prius.


Last time I was in Kuala Lumpur I was surprised to see how many people per minute used the ICE-Scooter lanes, at a very high speed.

With 2-place e-scooters and 2-place e-bikes + 3 & 4-wheels mini EVs, you could probably move up to 3 times as many people per hour (on the same streets) than with large Hummer type gas guzzlers.

Of course, e-buses or e-bus-trains on dedicated lanes, with non-intrusive stops, could do even better and complement individual EVs.

As many as 9 billion non-polluting EVs, the majority being 2-wheels, may be around within another century or so. As usual, many people will have 2 or even 3 each to make up for those who don't have one.


I don't think we will get to 9 billion. We are already stretching the limits of food production with 6.7 billion.


An unknown virus popped up in India last week that is running at a 20% kill rate. The symtoms look like a cross between Malaria and Denghi fever, that's very very bad. They have it contained but eventually it will get out.


The limits of food production depend on what people eat - if we all want steak and eggs, 6.7 might be a limit.

If we fall back to a mostly vegetarian diet (which I do not recommend) you could easily feed 10 billion.

Note I say mostly vege. - meat 2 or 3 times a week.
Nothing impossible - just a step back.

A bit like the bikes 'n buses.



Why don't you recommend the mostly Vegetarian diet, this is the one I have been following as well as the people in the mediteranean area where longevity is on top and cardio-vascular disease as well as cancer are at the lowest, not to mention that French provencal, Italian , libanese cuisine are amongst the tastiest cuisines in the world, So ?

Read meat based diet not only is ruining the planet but also the health of hundred of millions of people, extensive growh of beef, sheep and pork is crime agaisnt the planet.


that's easy for you to say, whenever i order a veggie meal (there were exceptions in life but its rare) or make it myself it tastes like absolute ****. On the contrary I know many places and people that cook super tasty meaty meals :D


OK, it is a case of "do what I say, not what I do"
I advocate using bikes more and eating less meat.

Personally, I cycle quite a bit (but own and use) a car, but I still eat quite a bit of meat / fish.

If we want to feed more people, we will have to cut down on meat (there is no need to eliminate it, just cut down), but I havn't taken that step.

It is a bit like the notion that "94% of people think other people should use public transport".


The horrors of learning how to cook well! ;)


Whether we can feed or provide energy for 6 - 9 billion persons is a secondary question IMO.
The more interesting question relates to the quality of those lives and the ability of H. sapiens to share the earth equitably with all the other interested parties.
Without the appreciation of this aspect of our existence we lose our rites to claim a place in the larger picture.

Sam the Vogon

Some of those 9 billion are plenty tasty.

Kill two birds with one stone.


"Wow someone's looking beyond next quarter."

The Japanese generally have a long term view of things. They were the example of "patient capital" over the years. It is the "churn and burn" mentality of Wall Street that makes quarterly numbers the Holy Grail of business. When investors take the longer term view, maybe things can change. However, many people like good returns on their 401k accounts, so we have met the enemy and he is us.


In vitro meat coupled to algal N2/C fixation would fix all this.

Clifford J. Wirth. Ph.D.

By looking at global oil production by 2015 we can see that this report is an illusion about the future. Here is reality.

According to energy investment banker Matthew Simmons and most independent analysts, global oil production will now decline from 74 million barrels per day to 60 million barrels per day by 2015. During the same time demand will increase 14%.

This is equivalent to a 33% drop in 7 years. No one can reverse this trend, nor can we conserve our way out of this catastrophe. Because the demand for oil is so high, it will always exceed production levels; thus oil depletion will continue until all recoverable oil is extracted.

Alternatives will not even begin to fill the gap. And most alternatives yield electric power, but we need liquid fuels for tractors/combines, 18 wheel trucks, trains, ships, and mining equipment.

Surviving Peak Oil: We are facing the collapse of the highways that depend on diesel trucks for maintenance of bridges, cleaning culverts to avoid road washouts, snow plowing, roadbed and surface repair. When the highways fail, so will the power grid, as highways carry the parts, transformers, steel for pylons, and high tension cables, all from far away. With the highways out, there will be no food coming in from "outside," and without the power grid virtually nothing works, including home heating, pumping of gasoline and diesel, airports, communications, and automated systems.

This is documented in a free 48 page report that can be downloaded, website posted, distributed, and emailed:

I used to live in NH-USA, but moved to a sustainable place. Anyone interested in relocating to a nice, pretty, sustainable area with a good climate and good soil? Email: clifford dot wirth at yahoo dot com or give me a phone call which operates here as my old USA-NH number 603-668-4207.


I'll take a brochure, Cliff. Make it easier for my post-apocalyptic cannibal horde to overrun your little enclave in search of women, water and food when that wonderful Simmons-spun vision of the future imperfect comes to pass.

Unless you'd prefer cutting out the middle man and just posting your address.


Thanks for information.
plz more information about graphs in toyota for sales all report

Thanks a lot

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