By on January 28, 2010

Supplier CTS, who produced the gas pedals now under recall from Toyota, tells Automotive News [sub] that it “built parts to the automaker’s specifications and says it has no knowledge that its parts were responsible for any accidents or injuries.” Sources at CTS tell AN that although they are working on a fix with Toyota and that new pedals have been tested and are shipping to Toyota plants, “this is their recall.” That would seem to contradict the facts of the case, as Denso, Toyota’s gas pedal supplier for Japanese-built models, has not been involved in the recall. According to Inside Line, the issue with pedal return damping that has plagued CTS-supplied, US-built Toyotas has not turned up in Denso-produced gas pedals.

Separately, AN [sub] reports that blueprints for the redesigned pedal were finalized earlier this week, and are now being shipped to Toyota plants. This will help Toyota restart production quickly at its CTS-supplied plants in Indiana, Texas, Kentucky and Canada. But due to the size of the Toyota recall, retrofitting already-produced models will be expensive and time consuming. The two million+ pedals Toyota needs to replace recalled units account for more than CTS’s annual pedal production, meaning dealers could be stuck with unsaleable models for an extended period.

Accordingly, analysts tell AN [sub] that publicly-traded dealer groups could lose up to $1.5m gross profit per week because of the recall. Matt Nemer of Wells Fargo Securities says groups like AutoNation, Penske and Group1 could see per-share losses of 2 cents per week, putting downward pressure on their stock prices. Already Group1, which is one of the most import-dependent of the bunch, has seen its stock slide over 6 percent.

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44 Comments on “Toyota Update: CTS Blames Toyota, Already-Produced Vehicle Retrofitting Could Take Years...”


  • avatar
    celebrity208

    The US government owns a huge stake in GM. Toyota is the company that just recently unseated GM as the #1 seller of automobiles in the US. Ray LaHood is the transportation secretary and an administration member and government employee. Ray LaHood told/ordered Toyota to stop selling cars. GM offers $1000 cash on traded in Toyotas. If GM profits from this, then the government profits it as well and thusly from Toyota’s sales freeze. That has the appearance of a huge conflict of interest even if nothing nefarious was done. Image is everything. This could bring the WTO into the ring. This is going to be a disaster for ALL involved parties.

    • 0 avatar
      criminalenterprise

      WTO is not going to get involved. There is no way, not even reaching, that they could begin to prove any malfeasance.

    • 0 avatar
      Facebook User

      I wholeheartedly agree, the World Trade Organization should look into this… but only if (when) Toyota files a formal complaint.

      Which Toyota absolutely should.

      The WTO has been involved for ages in an even more frivolous volley of complaints flying between aircraft makers Boeing and Airbus, over unfair trade practices and “illegal” government subsidies. For what it’s worth, I think Toyota has a better case against the US government than either of those companies against each other.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      WTO shouldn’t get involved. The cars have a big safety issue. The US gov’t isn’t going to make money off of this at all. Besides, the many manufactures do conquest incentives all the time. This is nothing more than that.

    • 0 avatar
      TheFredMan

      Hey celebrity208:

      Was Ray LaHood standing on the grassy knoll when he gave the order?

      I think the conspiracy theory is a little over the top….

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    This is where it gets Ford/Firestone ugly, and it’s precisely because someone, either CTS or Toyota, is going to be the target of a lot of lawsuits.

    Many of the problems with this situation that are attributed to callousness or poor judgment really come down to liability. It would be nice if a person or organization could be proactive, but when the costs of doing so are so very high (eg, every PI lawyer in the nation would be out for your blood) there’s a serious disincentive for doing so.

    CTS is obliged, if for no other reason than their shareholders would file a due-diligence suit, to cover itself. So is Toyota. Rock. Hard place.

    Sucks, but it’s human nature.

    • 0 avatar
      Geotpf

      Possible, although it seems like that, unlike the floor mat deal, this particular problem hasn’t shown up as an actual real-world problem bad enough to cause an accident. Both Toyota and CTS seem to agree that there haven’t been any real-world accidents caused by the problem. Any unintended acceleration that caused accidents are probably caused by either the floor mat thing, stupid drivers, or something else wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Geotpf: I think events will prove your statements false.

    • 0 avatar
      guyincognito

      I agree completely. Having lived through the Firestone situation, I can say this is one big ball of not good for Toyota.

      Once the sudden acceleration claims started there was nothing for them to do but try to contain the issue as best they could and start working on covering their asses.

      Ford tried to take the high road with the Firestone issue by buying back every tire, everywhere, including Goodyears which didn’t have the problem,(while still throwing Firestone under the buss), but they ended up looking negligent anyway. Explorer sales never recovered and Ford lost countless billions because of it.

    • 0 avatar
      Len_A

      My wife was a part of the team of paralegals that spent a year at Ford just putting together all the Explorer documents that the Congressional hearings required. This is going to cost Toyota, financially, big time.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      The legal representatives appeared at the desk of everyone remotely connected with the issue and basically said “give me everything you have on Firestone w.r.t. Explorer and vice-versa… even the guy that had worked on wheels (this being perhaps the 1 item in the system with no real influence on the performance of the suspension/tire) for a short time earned a visit.

    • 0 avatar
      Len_A

      I remember my wife telling me that they looked for any document with the words “Firestone” or “Explorer” in them. Everything was to be transcribed and posted on a website database for all plaintiff’s counsel to access.

      One day she comes home, and starts relaying this story of one document sweep that had everyone she worked with in hysterics. One engineer lost his Franklin Planner to the sweep, because he wrote a notation for one Saturday that he was planning on getting new tires for his personal vehicle – an Explorer. So that page was going to be transcribed and posted – all of it…including his girlfriend’s “honey do” list….which consisted of the the following words. “Do Dana. Do Dana again. Then do Dana some more.”

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The two million+ pedals Toyota needs to replace recalled units account for more than CTS’s annual pedal production, meaning dealers could be stuck with unsaleable models for an extended period.

    This is very much like what Ford was/is facing with the cruise control switch issue: when you’re talking millions of products and fixed limits on production, do you have any real choice?

    Toyota needs to get these plants moving for cash flow reasons. Holding them up in favour of product on the road sounds morally wonderful, but they’re a business and they need to sink or swim. Even in good times, I really doubt there’s a bank in existence that would float them operational capital to idle plants for months while they fix every car on the road, or loan CTS the millions it would need to double or quadruple capacity for a short time?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      The other question is, who gets the pedals first? The cars that are already sold gets my vote because the people may not want to drive them because of this warranty. My guess is that they will do both at the same time though.

  • avatar
    bmoredlj

    Herein lies the silver lining of this debacle at last! The number of parts needed exceeds annual production…with the current workforce. To make as many as needed, they’ll need a larger one, no?

    I guess Toyota inadvertently CREATED MORE JOBS!

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    As hard as this is going to be for Toyota, the best course for them is to take their first loss as the best loss. If they apply due dilligence to correcting this problem in the long run it will benefit the company. If they blow it off and go with the bottom line the amount it costs them in image will be far greater than what it costs them now.

  • avatar
    Autojunkie

    @ celebrity208

    Give it a break…

  • avatar
    George B

    If I had a Toyota car, I’d want the Japanese Denso pedal return damping part. Spending time at the shop to get another CTS part would be like wasting time to get new and improved Firestone tires on the Explorer. Toyota owners pay a price premium to avoid time wasted in the repair shop.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      This is not necessarily true.

      After deep scrutiny by experts large and small, such problems tend to get sorted. (Not to mention the massive liability risks of f’ing-up the remedial action!)

      Put another way, which restaurant do you want to eat in this week, the one that was closed 2 weeks ago due to health violations, cleaned from top-to-bottom, and passed inspection last week, or the one that has yet to be discovered for its health violations?

  • avatar
    DanTT

    Funnny that there is no mention of this issue in Toyota’s Wikipedia article. In fact it reads like it was written by Toyota’s marketing department:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota

    Now compare to Ford’s Wikipedia entry which is much more balanced. You will not find a “Criticism” section in the Toyota article much less any mention of the recalls relating to rust and the unintended acceleration issue. Interesting.

  • avatar
    Angainor

    Has anyone, anywhere been able to recreate non-floormat related unintended acceleration in one of these Toyotas?

    • 0 avatar
      galaxygreymx5

      http://www.leftlanenews.com/toyota-avalon-displays-unintended-acceleration-without-floor-mat.html

    • 0 avatar
      guyincognito

      @ galaxygreymx5:

      Heresay and conjecture are kinds of evidence but I’m not sure how much stock I put in that article. The blog sourced has more recent articles contradicting the pedal sticking theory entirely.

      Personally, I think this is a mostly made up issue, as anyone who claims to have crashed due to sudden acceleration is already admitting they have no idea how to operate an automobile.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      A properly designed and manufactured car would never demand that this ability be part of a driver’s skill set.

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      @guyincognito:
      Personally, I think this is a mostly made up issue, as anyone who claims to have crashed due to sudden acceleration is already admitting they have no idea how to operate an automobile.

      The reality is that those who can’t or don’t know to shift to neutral quickly in a panic situation are allowed to drive. That makes Toyota liable.

      The real problem will be the litigation from those who will blame ‘sudden acceleration’ for every accident involving a Toyota.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Don’t tell me it’ll take many months to make replacement gas pedal mechanisms. In Michigan alone there must be dozens of parts suppliers with underutilized plants.

    What I really want to know is the difference between the old and new blueprints. What changed?

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I am quite certain there have been deaths directly attributed to this.

    As far as who is at fault….Denso pedals and CTS pedals are likely the “same” on paper, but different in actual production, so it makes complete sense Denso may not have problems but CTS does. Usually Toyota creates a design, and their Japan supplier takes the lead. They are the first to do the tooling, first to make parts, first to test, etc. Then once this is set, the same drawing is provided to the North American supplier (CTS). However, it is often the case that the Japanese part that was built, tested, and approved by Toyota does not actually match the drawing or is skewed towards the outer limits of the tolerance range. It is quite common in Japan to make minor tweaks where you see potential problems (Denso) and it never makes it to a drawing revision because Denso never tells Toyota. Contrast that with the US, where it is common to “meet the drawing” but with different materials, different sub-suppliers etc, and it turns out the parts meet all the specs on the drawing but the part doesn’t fit right in the car. And of course its followed with “the Japanese part fits perfectly and this is the same drawing”. Time and time again. Go back and dig? You find out the Japanese parts were indeed modified and did not meet the drawings….though they fit better because of it.

    I could almost guarantee that’s what is going on here. CTS meets all the specs, passes all the toyota tests, everything is within tolerance, but Denso for some reason did something slightly differently. Either that or Toyota did not specify adequately what they wanted from their suppliers. Denso gave them more than then needed, CTS probably aimed for the bottom (price is everything…).

    It sucks. Even when it isn’t something this serious, its a huge PITA for the supplier and Toyota. Arguing over who will pay to modify tooling, who will change the design, how to roll in the change, etc. When things are this big and this important, the incentive to blame the other grows that much greater.

    Toyota is the one in trouble here. It is their vehicle, with their name on it. Doesn’t matter who is ultimately at fault. People know its a Toyota problem, not a CTS problem.

    Soap opera here.

    • 0 avatar
      Disaster

      You are spot on. I posted something similar in the “Decontenting” article.

      It is important to realize, however, that the Japanese relationship, with Japanese suppliers works…and works well. They work together to make the product meet the customer requirements and worry less about getting agreed upon part specifications down on paper.

      By the way, Ford did an amazingly good job of deflecting the Firestone/Explorer incident onto Firestone. Sure, one of the causes of the accidents was a molding problem with Firestone tires that caused them to blow up. However, the other cause is the high CG and narrow track and suspension of the Explorer that made it more likely to roll over when a customer reacted to the blown tire. Ford quietly widened the track and changed the suspension of the Explorer on the next model change, but never took any blame for the previous design.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    I think TTAC missed putting 2 and 2 together with this article. How long has Toyota known about this if the blue prints for the fix are available now? Very short turn around for a part if you ask me.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Steven02,

      I was thinking the exact same thing – CTS is saying they’ve been working with Toyota on a new design made to tighter specifications and that they are ready to ship….seems fishy to me…

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Blueprints? Seriously? I haven’t seen a blueprint in half dacade, unless it was for service parts. Drawings, yes, plots, yes, copies, yes… blueprints, no. And I don’t miss the stench of ammonia either.

  • avatar
    GrandCharles

    Just had my recall done for my brake today (vaccum condensention i think), as i was telling the mechanic; two recall on this car and a perfect storm if they would happen at the same time:full acceleration and loss of braking power…The joke is i bought a new car to have a safe and reliable mean of transportation…so i tought of a Toyota based Vibe…things changes i guess…

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      …two recall on this car and a perfect storm if they would happen at the same time:full acceleration and loss of braking power…

      At highway speed with a stuck accelerator, the brakes will (in most makes) only slow a vehicle. At a stop, working brakes will always overpower an stuck accelerator. (That’s why the CBS Audi story was such a travesty).

      The worse thing about a stuck accelerator at speed is the potential for confusion. People may hit the brake at first, but since that only slows the vehicle, they falsely assume they’re on the wrong pedal and lift off the brake. This effective ‘pumping’ of the brakes decreases braking further.

      A common, but related problem is a brake pedal that won’t depress due to an obstruction (beer bottle, coke bottle, trash, etc). Tow drivers and cops say that many people treat their cars as trash cans – with often tragic results when the crap gets in the way of operating their vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      At highway speed with a stuck accelerator, the brakes will (in most makes) only slow a vehicle. At a stop, working brakes will always overpower an stuck accelerator. (That’s why the CBS Audi story was such a travesty).

      This is not really true. The brakes in just about any vehicle can drag a car down from highway speeds, albeit somewhat longer than it would take if the accelerator wasn’t depressed.

      The worse thing about a stuck accelerator at speed is the potential for confusion. People may hit the brake at first, but since that only slows the vehicle, they falsely assume they’re on the wrong pedal and lift off the brake. This effective ‘pumping’ of the brakes decreases braking further.

      This is very true. Even with your brakes in good condition, pumping them will reduce your stopping power and ability. Most people don’t stomp on their brakes near hard enough, which is why many new cars are coming with technologies like electronic brakeforce distribution (which helps a little) and PreSafe (laser cruise control combined with EBFD; it precharges and, in some cases, applies or overapplies the brakes when an accident is imminent).

      The well-published Lexus/CHP crash noted flaming brakes. You only get that if you’re pumping them, not if you’re stomping once and hard. And that was a police officer who was probably trained.**

  • avatar
    p00ch

    Do European/Japanese Toyotas get Denso while their N. American counterparts get CTS? If so, CTS is to blame and looks like they’re about to lose a big contract. Either that or European/Japanese drivers are less litigious and unlike N. American drivers, they know how to stop a car under UIA circumstances.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    On Edmunds.com (Update #8), a Toyota spokesman said:
    a) the fix is made and pedals are shipping,
    b) TMC is working with the supplier to develop a field repair …

    This means TMC prefer to fix the pedals rather than replace them (this route being faster, cheaper, and doesn’t disrupt production and cash-flow generation like a full-fledged remove and replace field action would.)

    Unfortunately, this also means the fix will only be as good as the worst mechanic in the Toyota dealer system.

  • avatar

    My 2008 4Runner was made in Japan. Thank Tokyo for that !

  • avatar
    Nicodemus

    “That would seem to contradict the facts of the case, as Denso, Toyota’s gas pedal supplier for Japanese-built models, has not been involved in the recall. According to Inside Line, the issue with pedal return damping that has plagued CTS-supplied, US-built Toyotas has not turned up in Denso-produced gas pedals.

    Separately, AN [sub] reports that blueprints for the redesigned pedal were finalized earlier this week, and are now being shipped to Toyota plants.”

    Not really; having to change the drawing implies there is something fundamentally wrong with the design more than it does a problem with CTS’ process. There may be a number of reasons why the Denso parts aren’t affected, for example they may be of a slightly different design which allows commonality with related Right Hand Drive models, which would be the majority of Japanese production.

    By the way the term ‘Blueprints’ died out with 1960′s spy thrillers. Nobody in the industry uses it.


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