Sunday, June 23, 2013

Toyota Landcruiser & NGOs

The World Peace Foundation published an article on 22 June 2013 that called for the Toyota Landcruiser to be regulated as a weapon of war because it has been used by many in conflicts in Africa.  However, the author of the argument neglected to notice the many good purposes for which people use the Landcruiser.  Driving around N’Djamena an observer would notice that everybody that wants to leave the city drives a Landcruiser or some Toyota 4WD variant.  That includes MSF, Catholic Charities, SOS Medecins, ASTBEF, the US Embassy, the French Embassy, the Chadian government, and the Chadian military.  These organizations use their vehicles to do a lot of good in the country and to blame the vehicle for its use in conflict is wrong.  

In some places “bad guys” conduct raids on camels or horseback, should these animals and their use be regulated as well?  If the Landcruiser was to be regulated as a weapon of war, will this expand to the regulation of all 4WD vehicles?  Jeep makes a decent off-road vehicle, as does Range Rover, are they next after the Toyotas?  In some places terrorists like to use non-descript cars like the old Peugeot 504 for VBIEDs, so should we regulate them as well?

Other vehicles just aren’t as reliable as the Toyota Landcruiser and no other 4WD brand has established such a robust base of mechanics and spare parts train to support their vehicles.  There is a sweet Porsche Cayenne Turbo parked by the Toyota dealer in N’Djamena, but there are no mechanics that know how to work on it and parts will take forever to get here and cost a fortune!

I agree that the Toyota Landcruiser has often been used in conflicts, but to blame the vehicle or to try to regulate it is not the solution to resolving these conflicts.  I would rather that more effort be put into understanding, conflict resolution, and resource sharing than increasing international regulation of a good truck.

Perhaps I feel so strongly about this because I like my Toyota Landcruiser.  It has driven me across many African countries and always brought me back safely.


  1. Toyota Landcruisers have a burly image, not far from a Hum vee which is specifically designed for combat operations. Now take my Toyota RAV4 which looks sweet, innocent, and not so aggressive in styling. It is excellent in crossing a snow-covered parking lot to find the best parking spot at the mall.

  2. Actually the RAV-4 is a somewhat common car here in N'Djamena among expats for their privately owned vehicle. However, one could still cut the roof off & mount a machine gun or fire RPGs from an improvised sunroof.

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