Mini-me green fight
THERE was a surprising and rude interruption to the press preview of the new Toyota Prius this week. Just as Toyota honcho Dave Buttner was getting to the best bit, the $39,900 starting price, the press desks started to vibrate.
My computer pinged to announce the arrival of an urgent email at the same time as BlackBerries on either side did their thing for the same incoming mail.
Journalists cannot resist this sort of temptation so I switched focus to find an urgent update on green motoring — from BMW!
It could be a coincidence that BMW Group chose 2.07pm on Monday to reveal its dieselpowered 118, the 2007 Green Car of the Year, was coming Down Under. But probably not.
BMW Group has been running a tough anti-hybrid campaign this year and is working hard to position diesel as the best choice for eco-friendly motoring. It says newage turbodiesels are the economy leader and also deliver emission advantages over regular unleaded.
Toyota disagrees. Some T-brand executives in Australia talk openly about ‘‘evil diesel’’, based on the fuel’s heavy emission of both carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides.
Minutes after the BMW email, Toyota Australia’s product planning chief Ashley Edwards went on the offensive, attacking the BMW Group’s Mini diesel, which was Australia’s first member of the sub-four-litre economy club.
‘‘None of the diesel vehicles available in Australia produces fewer emissions than new Prius,’’ Edwards says.
‘‘The greenhouse gas and airpollution emissions of diesel vehicles are much higher than Prius. With only 89g a kilometre, Prius is Australia’s greenest car.’’
Edwards even goes head-on with the Mini diesel, acknowledg- ing its 3.9 litres for 100km economy before slamming its production of more than 56 times the oxides of nitrogen.
‘‘Toyota’s view is that more hybrid vehicles on our roads, instead of diesels, will be less harmful to the environment,’’ he says.
Prius defence: Toyota is on the offensive against BMW over economy and emissions claims.