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Toyota's Turn To Show It Tops Green Agenda

Over the last six months as I've filed numerous stories about the Chevy Volt, Nissan's plan to build an electric car, and Ford's focus on increasing fuel efficiency, I have heard the same thing from you: That's great, but what's Toyota doing?

It's as if Toyota is the Tiger Woods of the auto industry when it comes to going green. In other words, some of you seem to be saying, "Tell us what Toyota has up its sleeve and then we'll decide if the Volt, Nissan, or any other automaker has a shot at taking the hybrid crown away from the Japanese automaker."

I bring this up because today in Oregon, Toyota will start showing reporters and the public what's next on its green agenda. And in typical Toyota fashion, this will not be a huge dog and pony show. Instead, it will be the beginning of the company reminding the press and the public in a very matter-of-fact way why it is the leader when it comes to alternative powered vehicles.

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If you are one of those folks who think the Prius is an over-hyped hybrid, or that Toyota gets too much credit for pushing fuel efficiency, spare me your e-mails. The fact is poll after poll shows the public views Toyota as tops. That's not media hype, just the fact. Toyota now wants to protect that position as other automakers set their sights on knocking off Toyota.

The Chevy Volt will get plenty of attention from fans of the Big 3 who want an American-made electric car. Meanwhile Honda'snext generation Insight will be THE star of the Paris Auto Show next week, as the hybrid car is being touted as a legit "Prius-Fighter."

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What do the folks at Toyota think about all this talk of competitors knocking them off their green pedestal?

Publicly they say all the right things about welcoming competitors. Privately, I suspect Toyota engineers and marketing execs are ready to show the world why they are not ready to give up the environmental crown.

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Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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