IT IS VITAL FOR AUTOMOBILES to reduce emissions in order to help improve air quality, especially in urban areas. For years, Toyota has been dedicated to the development of ultra low emissions technologies and has been a leader in low emitting vehicles. We also promote the introduction of waterborne paints and low emission technologies to reduce VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from our manufacturing plants. These are examples of The Toyota Way commitment to Challenge — to create social and economic value through the manufacture and delivery of high-quality products and services. This is not a simple matter. There is an inherent conflict between the demand of consumers for cars on the one hand; and the needs of the earth on the other. Our responsibility is to accept this challenge and to work toward the best possible solutions. As this report shows, we do this in a variety of ways. In this section, we discuss two ways we are improving air quality: by reducing tailpipe emissions from vehicles we design, and by reducing VOC emissions from vehicles we manufacture.


Typically, manufacturers and government officials discuss vehicle emission levels in the context of certification levels. Both California and the U.S. federal government have vehicle emission programs, called LEV II and Tier 2, respectively. These programs are structured similarly, requiring manufacturers to average their entire vehicle fleet emissions to meet a prescribed set of emission standards for Non-Methane Organic Gas (NMOG), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Particulate Matter (PM), and formaldehyde (HCHO). California requires a manufacturer’s fleet average to meet a NMOG standard of 0.055g/mi. The federal program requires a manufacturer’s fleet average to meet a NOx standard of 0.07g/mi. A certification level is then assigned to each vehicle, depending on its emission levels. The certification levels in California are referred to as LEV (Low Emissions Vehicle), ULEV (Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle), SULEV (Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle), ZEV (Zero Emissions Vehicle), and AT-PZEV (Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle); and in the federal program as Bins one through eight. An important component of these programs is the reduced sulfur levels in gasoline that will be necessary to achieve further reductions in vehicle emissions over time.

Toyota complies with both the California and federal programs, and is ahead of the required compliance schedule for certification of its vehicles to these emissions standards. We have consistently certified more vehicles than the respective programs require. Our performance in Canada follows a similar track, as Environment Canada has implemented a Tier 2 program, and the vehicles we sell there have the same emission control technologies. For the 2007 model year, 90% of all Toyota, Lexus and Scion cars are certified to ULEV or better.

In addition, Toyota’s Industrial Equipment Division 8-series forklift truck, sold in Canada, voluntarily meets the 2010 California Air Resources Board (CARB) standards for tailpipe emissions, three years before CARB standards are scheduled to be implemented.

In-Use Compliance

Toyota has a proven track record of continuous in-use compliance. Toyota cars contribute to improving air quality by complying with emission requirements for up to 150,000 miles.

Both EPA and the California Air Resources Board staff have reviewed and approved the conduct of Toyota’s government mandated in-use testing programs and have assessed them with very favorable comments. With over 1,000 vehicles tested in these government programs over the last several years, Toyota’s emission compliance rate continues to be a leader among major industry manufacturers.

Ultra Low Emissions Technologies

By introducing the latest design technologies and leading?edge electronic control technologies, Toyota has achieved high fuel efficiency and cleaner exhaust emissions. Toyota engine design shifted strategically with these twin aims as targets. Toyota continues to use the base strategies popularized in the late twentieth century: namely catalytic converters and electronic fuel injection, as well as oxygen and air/fuel sensors and dual-overhead cams. Several newer technologies are routinely used on Toyota vehicles today, often in parallel, to achieve cleaner vehicle emissions.

In the spirit of kaizen, Toyota has adopted and continues to adopt other technological strategies for cleaner vehicles. Variable valve timing (VVT) improvements continue. The 2007 model year Lexus LS 460 and 460L include the VVT-iE system which regulates the valve timing with an electric motor. New engines also have reduced mechanical friction. In addition, Toyota employs direct fuel injection in some gasoline engines, a technique that provides both improved efficiency and cleaner exhaust emissions.


Activities associated with automobile manufacturing result in VOCs and other emissions released to the atmosphere. VOCs from painting operations are the most significant emissions from our manufacturing facilities.

VOCs From Painting Vehicles

We measure VOC emissions from vehicle painting operations in grams of VOCs emitted per square meter of total vehicle surface area. We are on track for meeting our five-year target to reduce VOCs from our painting operations to a corporate average of 14.0 g/m2 by FY2011. Examples of our efforts to minimize VOC emissions from vehicle painting include:

  • At our new plant in San Antonio, Texas, we implemented a waterborne primer and basecoat process for body painting. After only six months of operation, the plant is performing better than the target set in its eco-plant plan of 15 g/m2.
  • The truck paint shop at our vehicle assembly plant in Fremont, California, changed to a high-pressure water operation for cleaning its paint booth floors, reducing the use of booth cleaning solvents. VOC emissions from the truck paint operations improved from 17.9 g/m2 in FY2006 to 14.6 g/m2 in FY2007.

Kaizens at Our Plant in Cambridge, Ontario, Reduce VOCs From Vehicle Painting

Toyota’s assembly plant in Cambridge, Ontario, is the first plant in Canada to use state-of-the-art waterborne paint cartridge technology in the production of the Lexus RX 350. Cartridges attached to the end of a robot arm store the paint needed, eliminating the need to flush out the lines when changing colors. VOC emissions from this activity have been reduced by more than 95%.

Employees at the plant have been especially focused on VOC emissions since 2005, when a VOC Task Force was established. Since then, the Task Force has implemented hundreds of kaizens, including:

  • Implementing water-based blackout paint used in the wheelhouse well and radiator support.
  • Installing new electrostatic hand spray guns designed for applying water-based paint.
  • Improving solvent capture systems to reclaim solvent.
  • Installing fail-safe valves to help prevent leaks and overflows.
  • Installing covers on primer booth handgun hoses to reduce cleaning frequency. These hoses used to be cleaned once every two hours. The cleaning process uses solvents, resulting in VOC emissions and the generation of waste.
  • Reprogramming robots to use paint and solvent more efficiently, so that the robot only purges into the hopper if needed.

Hundreds of employees in our body and bumper painting areas were trained on the environmental impacts of their work and best management practices to reduce air emissions, and encouraged to implement improvement projects.

VOCs From Painting Vehicle Plastics

Our VOC target for exterior plastics fascia, which consists of mostly bumpers, is new to our North American Environmental Action Plan. However, our plants are not new to managing and reducing these emissions.

Each of our plastics paint shops has action plans with VOC targets. Based on their action plans, we will set a target for North America for overall plastics painting emissions. The target will be measured in grams of VOCs emitted per square meter of total painted surface area of the part.

At our vehicle assembly plant in Fremont, California, the plastics paint shop has reduced VOC emissions by over 50% over the last two years, to 56 g/m2. A significant portion of this reduction was achieved by switching to a water-based primer. In addition to having lower emissions, the new primer can be cleaned with water-based cleaners instead of solvent cleaners.

The part size, substrate and painting processes for vehicle body and plastic parts are different, and they therefore have different targets. A significant difference is the surface area used to calculate the emissions. For vehicle VOC calculations, we use the body surface area coated during the electrodeposition paint process; this includes the inner surfaces, underneath the vehicle and other areas that after assembly are not visible.

The surface area used in the VOC calculation for plastics is the visible painted surface. The surface area for the plastics VOC calculations is a much higher percentage of the plastic part’s surface area than the vehicle’s body surface area. This means that the grams of VOC emissions are distributed over a smaller surface, resulting in higher emissions per surface area.


  • In 2007, 90% of all Toyota, Lexus and Scion cars are certified as Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles or better.
  • We have reduced our VOC emissions from painting vehicles by 39% since FY2003.