By on February 6, 2010

Recently, there have been voices that mentioned that the attacks on Toyota could be politically motivated. Let’s face it: Toyota has problems. So have other auto makers. There are marked differences in reaction to and treatment of these problems.

One of the tenets of warfare is that you never attack the innocent. You wait until your opponent bumbles. Tricking an “enemy” into doing something really stupid, and exploiting this to declare a “righteous” war, is as old as Julius Caesar. Being the “defender” makes you a winner in the war of  public opinion. You need the public on your side to win a war.

Using an outside scapegoat to deflect criticism is the oldest trick in the book. Time and again, people fall for it.

The Japanese were docile, polite, and cautious when in came to Toyota’s troubles. The more surprising is today’s piece in the Nikkei [sub]. Usually, we don’t copy and republish whole pieces. But in the name of authenticity, and because the Nikkei is only available on-line as paid subscription, we make the whole piece available.

„Toyota’s Woes Seen As Warning Sign For Foreign Firms In U.S.

WASHINGTON (Nikkei)–The midterm elections this coming November may be one reason why the U.S. government and Congress have taken a hard-line stance on Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) over vehicle defects.

Toyota itself undeniably compounded the problem by bungling its response. But the fact that the Japanese auto giant has sharply increased its market share in the U.S., while General Motors and Chrysler headed for bankruptcy, provoked a strong reaction to its vehicle problems.

Another likely reason for the government’s tough response now is that the Department of Transportation was criticized by some consumers as too lenient.

Last month, U.S. President Barack Obama used his State of the Union address to put forth his vision of reviving American manufacturing and doubling exports — a move seen as an attempt to reverse his sinking approval rating ahead of the midterm elections.

With unemployment stuck at high levels and public anger over the Wall Street bailout still strong, the government and Congress are looking for a scapegoat to channel voter frustration away from themselves.

These circumstances prompt some U.S. watchers to warn that Toyota’s experience may be just a harbinger of a growing backlash against foreign firms.

Canada’s Financial Post made a similar assessment in a commentary titled “The war on Toyota” in its Feb. 3 online edition.

“The attack on Toyota, at this time of U.S. economic weakness and populist excess, is fast turning into a great American nationalist assault on a foreign corporation,” the piece read.

With the Japanese government also having bumpy relations with Washington right now over the relocation of the U.S. military’s Futenma base in Okinawa Prefecture, Toyota could be put into a very difficult corner over the quality problems.”


The Nikkei is not the only publication that takes this stance, in carefully chosen words. Publications on this side of the Pacific are more outspoken.

Canada’s Financial Post says:

“There can be little doubt that Toyota, the world’s greatest auto maker in recent years, has become the victim of much more than another typical out-of-control All-American media frenzy. When top-line political gamesman such as U.S. Transport Secretary Ray LaHood, Congressional pit bull Henry Waxman, and conniving United Auto Workers executives start piling on, this is clearly much bigger sport that the usual ritual public lynching of auto executives, a routine occurrence in Washington. The attack on Toyota, at this time of U.S. economic weakness and populist excess, is fast turning into a great American nationalist assault on a foreign corporation, an economic war.”

The Washington Examiner uses even harsher language:

“What is it about the automotive industry that inspires such thuggish attitudes in the Obama administration? The Examiner’s Michael Barone coined the term “gangster government” to describe threats by the White House last spring against Chrysler creditors who had the temerity to insist that bankruptcy laws be followed in the bailout of the perennially ailing third member of the once-fabled Detroit Big Three. Now along comes Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood muttering darkly that “we’re not finished with Toyota” in the controversy over sticking gas pedals in vehicles made and sold in America by the Japanese automaker… Keep the controversy going and odds are good that Toyota sales will continue to drop. The biggest losers besides American consumers will be the men and women who own and work at Toyota’s 1,200 U.S. dealerships and the 30,000 Americans who build Toyotas in its five factories here. LaHood might as well have said “Nice car company ya got there, be a shame if anything happened to it.”

Investors Business Daily says:

“Is it just us, or is there something off about regulators’ big public show against Toyota over a safety issue? Might that be a conflict of interest between Government Motors’ owners and a foreign rival?… LaHood’s targeting of Toyota is creepily reminiscent of the Japan-bashing of the 1980s. But it won’t work as long as Uncle Sam acts as both owner and regulator.”

You will find more, if you just take the time to sort through the chaff.  Toyota is not the only target. Toyota is the most opportunistic target. The Obama administration has been on the trade war path ever since they took power. History tells that trade wars during recessions are suicide. Some trade wars turned into shooting wars.

Today, the world is too interconnected to survive a trade war. The first victims of Obama’s moronic tire war were American companies and American jobs.

Who will suffer most from trade wars?

You.

You pay for trade wars with higher prices. You pay for trade wars with inflation. You pay for trade wars by being forced to give up your freedom to pick the product you want. Don’t end up as collateral damage.

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84 Comments on “Trade War Watch 12: “Nationalist assault on a foreign corporation, an economic war”...”


  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    It’s all kicking off now. China is annoyed at the US for selling arms to Taiwan and is going to retaliate by sanctioning any company involved in the contract. One of those companies involved the contract is Boeing who make a great deal of money in China.

    Now China has put duties on chicken imported from the US. President Obama has vowed to take a tougher line against China. All from a bunch of tyres!

    Toyota, I firmly believe, have been the scape goat in all of this, which may draw the ire of the Japanese government. Very little has been made of Ford’s recall or GM’s problem with the cobalt. I really hope the American people see this for the bullying it actually is and not shy away from Toyotas. I’m not saying that Toyota haven’t messed up (because they have, big time) but this is getting ridiculous.

    Incidentally, on Friday, Toyota was the only car maker to gain on NYSE, Ford, Honda and Daimler all lost. Toyota also gained on the Tokyo and European stock exchanges. So, what are the markets seeing that I am not?

    • 0 avatar
      L'avventura

      Its interesting that you mention China, and its somewhat disturbing that Chinese and American policies are even remotely mirroring each other.

      China, as we all know, is not unfamiliar with using their regulatory powers against foreign competitors for the gain of their own domestic producers. The ongoing Rio Tinto case should stand as one example, and its pointless to sue Chinese automakers for blatant IP infringement in China if you’re a foreign automaker (the courts won’t find you guilty). In contrast, America has hitherto been a role model for the non-protectionist free market.

      Beyond merely Toyota, protectionist policies in the US has become very obvious since the economic meltdown and bailouts. We have a unabashedly pro-union administration, and a Government that owns owns and operates the largest domestic producer along with the UAW. That’s a conflict of interest.

      It does NOT matter if the government is actively attacking Toyota or not. What matters is perception, and the fact is there are several big conflicts of interest, and its bullying of Toyota can be interpreted as self-serving protectionism. The US may, or may not, really be pursuing a policy to bully Toyota for their sake of their domestics. But the fact that these conflict of interest exist means that they need to incredibly careful to avoid even the appearance of protectionism.

      The fact that this is being reported in the Nikkei is problematic. The Japanese are incredibly sensitive to the subject of “Japan Bashing” since the 80s. Anyone who’s anyone is Japan reads the Nikkei, and the mere perception or accusation that the US is acting to hurt foreign competition through the use of regulatory agencies is very dangerous.

      Getting back to the subject of China, the reality is that foreign governments have the higher inclination of protectionism then the US, and the US has done a very good job over the last decade to regin in protectionism with their trading partners (look at beef exports to Japan and S. Korea). The danger is the APPEARANCE of US protectionism will set off a wave of protectionism in other countries. Especially in the increasingly important Asian region.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    Last month, U.S. President Barack Obama used his State of the Union address to put forth his vision of reviving American manufacturing and doubling exports…

    Is this guy high, or something? How is the US going to “increase exports and revive manufacturing” when the feds and many state governments are sucking up whatever funny money is left from the private economy in taxes? Where is the environment for capital formation? Who in their right mind would hire anyone in today’s economy?

    Yep…if I had some money and a good idea the first thing I’m doing is going to California and start a business so I can export to China. As Ripley said, “Did IQs in the room suddenly drop?”

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Agree trade wars are bad and that if the present situation wrt China goes fwd it could spiral.

    Not on board with the gov’t is out to get Toyota theme. Toyota did a bad thing, and dragged its feet and has handled the issue incompetently, this opened them to the grandstanders in the media and political elite.

    Not sure how the consumer is hurt if Toyota’s sales drop, this should mean that better deals can be had on Toyotas, and, as long as incentives remain on competitor’s models, similar customer benefits will accrue there.

    News orgs are behaving as they do … an interesting story garners eyeballs and then the politicians do as they do in response, they pile-on to look like they are earning their keep.

    Okinawa is a frequent source of contention driven by two things, bad behaviours of some US troops there making them poor guests, and renegotiation of leases for base rights. The more Japan moves out of the US sphere of influence, the greater the friction on this topic will become.

    Taiwan is a similar evergreen topic, but now the Chinese have economic might to put behind their complaints.

    W.r.t. Okinawa and Taiwan, we are witnessing a shifting of economic might to China, with the subsequent reordering of political (and military) might.

    Everybody recognizes that US’s trade imbalances are unsustainable, but then go back to their buying until the next bump comes … this reordering is tectonic in nature … I posit that if the US really works to balance its trade, discontinuities like this (not including Toyota bashing) will occur.

    • 0 avatar
      Karaya1

      “Okinawa is a frequent source of contention driven by two things, bad behaviours of some US troops there making them poor guests,”

      Amerikans have such a gift with euphemisms and hypocrisy! Marines and sailors gang raping school girls could be construed as “bad behaviors” and it would be no surprise if such “guests” (occupiers?) were asked to leave. Oh, that’s rite. The people of Okinawa have been demanding this for years. Too bad their politicians have no balls.

    • 0 avatar
      Facebook User

      Let’s face it – the Big Three have had recalls that were at least as big as this Toyota one (i.e., Ford cruise control, etc) but I don’t remember as big a deal being made about any of them. Frankly, this Toyota recall has exploded to an absurd and almost unprecedented level in the public eye.

      So Toyota bungled its response a bit. Who cares? At least they didn’t play the Big Three “Problem? What Problem?” game until it was so painfully obvious (and so many people had been mauled or killed) that they had no choice but to do something about it. Toyotas are still reliable cars overall. Frankly, if the NHTSA response to all this is essentially just a big Toyota smear job by the Obama administration…that’s more “change I can’t believe in”.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Perhaps it is from my time living in Japan that I felt it only necessary to speak in terms of “bad behaviours” knowing both a) anybody interested or knowledgeable about the subject, or just paying attention over the past decades would know what I was referring to, and b) I was pretty sure some yahoo would confuse stupid personal behaviour on the part of some GI grunts with american foreign policy or try to hold up as proof of “continued american occupation” or “lingering american imperialism.”

      Personally, whether it is Marine grunts with zipper-troubles, or Navy officers violating “hard deck” orders and killing cable-car passengers, stupid individual behaviour along this spectrum is regretable because it causes unnecessary pain and sorrow to those harmed by it, and causes unnecessary friction between the host country and the U.S., damages U.S. reputation, and creates unproductive discussions such as this one (and leads to further discussions of Japan benefiting from the american Nuclear Umbrella Policy of which troops in Japan and S.Korea are visible proof, or to how american free-trade policy and leadership provided THE market for Toyota to sell into thus allowing it to prosper.)

    • 0 avatar
      L'avventura

      On the issue of Okinawa, the presence of US bases are a good source of income for surrounding area but the social costs are also huge for them. The most famous incident is when US servicemen kidnapped and gang-raped a 12-year-old Okinawan schoolgirl.

      The Okinawans obviously are smart enough to differentiate good and bad serviceman, but the problem is how the US military handles them. When these crimes occur, local officers have a hard time getting the military to hand over these criminals to local authorities because the locals don’t want them to go under trail by foreign military court. In big news cases the US military does comply, after dragging their feet, but most of the time it doesn’t. This infuriates people.

      Hatoyama is in the bad position of renegotiating the removal of US bases from Okinawa, the DPJ needs some political credit since they are down in the polls. For him to do a pro-US involving move will cost him very dearly politically, its not a time for the US-Japanese relationship to crumble. And there is nothing more China would like to see then decreased US military presence so close to Taiwan.

      Let’s keep in mind, the massive trade imbalance with China is not because Chinese brands sell well in the US, its because US manufacturing is expensive and American branded products like iPods are built in China. The American consumer is buying American brands from Walmart that are built in China.

      Even if China allowed their currency to float, manufacturing jobs won’t return to the US, especially if Obama is going to push pro-Union legislation like the Employee Free Choice Act. Those factories will merely make the iPods in Thailand, India, or other parts of the developing world that labor is cheap.

      Its a very different issue with Toyota, since most of their cars are built in the US or Canada. Its been a good source of FDI for the US, profits are razor thin in the automotive industry, and it takes a lot of money to built and operate factories.

      Again, whether or not the US is complicit in bullying Toyota is not really important, the appearance of it is. Especially in the foreign press. Government representatives like Lahood needs to properly vet their comments before they say anything, saying they will put Toyota’s “feet under the fire” on a official government website gives people a cause of suspicion. Let’s keep in mind, the Japanese press haven’t been very kind to Toyota over this recall either, and its only after these comments that such articles started to appear.

    • 0 avatar
      Karaya1

      “I was pretty sure some yahoo would confuse stupid personal behaviour on the part of some GI grunts with american foreign policy or try to hold up as proof of “continued american occupation” or “lingering american imperialism.”

      Are you a veteran Mr Walker? I find your attitude perplexing. References have been made to a long history of assaults on Okinawan civilians, rapes, gang rapes, kidnappings and, I think, a murder or two. From 12 year old girls to old women. This is not stupid personal behavior. This is not “zipper-troubles”. This is criminal, often conspiratorial, behavior by sick bastards who seem to think they can get away with it because of SOF agreements. This is institutional behavior that reflects the high levels of racism, violence and criminality endemic in American society. This is the sort of ‘protection’ that Al Capone, and his ilk, used to provide to local business owners. The people of Okinawa deserve better.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Not a vet. Not an über-patriot. Just a guy who tries to set aside personal prejudices, deeply understand topics, and keep things in perspective.

      If anything (and for the reasons previously stated), I have always felt such misdeeds on the part of military personnel hosted in a foreign country should be more harshly punished than if they had committed their crimes as either a civilian or as military stateside.

      Would their crimes be better addressed in the courts of the host country, or in civilian US-courts than under the UCMJ applied within a courts-martial setting? Perhaps. But this is neither the time nor the place for that discussion.

      (I had actually written this in my previous post, but deleted it because I thought it irrevalent to the discussion.)

    • 0 avatar
      texlovera

      “References have been made to a long history of assaults on Okinawan civilians, rapes, gang rapes, kidnappings and, I think, a murder or two. From 12 year old girls to old women. This is not stupid personal behavior. This is not “zipper-troubles”. This is criminal, often conspiratorial, behavior by sick bastards who seem to think they can get away with it because of SOF agreements. This is institutional behavior that reflects the high levels of racism, violence and criminality endemic in American society.”

      Well then, Karaya1, what overly-broad, knee-jerk conclusions should we draw about Japanese society from the Rape of Nanking??

      Just askin’…

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    Tha Obama govt, whose very presence in the White House was paid for in a large by unions including the UAW/Teamsters, is clearly doing his thug buddies another favor here, just as he did with the tire fiasco. The problem is, Toyota has done little to garner sympathy from many Americans with their smarmy hubris-laden marketing that basically suggests that non-Toyota buyers were a special brand of stupid.

    Is this protectionism wrong? Yes. Is it breaking my heart? No.

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      Tha Obama govt, whose very presence in the White House was paid for in a large by unions…

      Let’s not be too partisan. The reason Obama is present and more or less accounted for is in large part due to his predecessor’s incompetence, and the nauseous candidate (along with his airhead ditz running mate) that was offered by his party as a replacement.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Tha Obama govt, whose very presence in the White House was paid for in a large by unions…

      Let’s not be too partisan.

      Let’s not be too soft. Obama was given his chance mostly because of the incompetence of his predecessor. And let’s not for get that while Obama may have had labor on his side, Bush coddled Big Business, you know, those same characters who carry most of the blame for the unsustainable business practices that led to the global economic collapse.

      Toyota’s woes are really of its own making. Is the media in a witch hunt? No, this is what they do and really, we should be grateful. The media is supposed to be in the business of hunting out information and exposing it for all to see irrespective of partisan bias. The problem now is that with some media empires being controlled by a few (or one such as the News Corporation) is that sometimes key events are omitted or slanted to the point of irrelevance. Consider the recent Supreme Court ruling that, in its most basic terms, gives corporations the same right to free speech as an individual. This allows business to spend unlimited cash to bury dissenting voices. Being that this ruling undoes over 100 years of bipartisan support, you would think it would be newsworthy, no? Well, the story was nowhere to be found in the New York Post. Toyota is the most respected name in reliable, boring vehicles, and its manufacturing methods have been the subject of study by most major companies. Being on the top makes you more vulnerable to scrutiny. A story about a GM or Volkswagen recall is barely newsworthy; it is almost expected. But Toyota is different, and as such it is treated differently. I doubt any 4th generation Toyota owner is going to be in a GM showroom next time around because of this…

    • 0 avatar
      Facebook User

      To pretend that unions had little to do with Obama’s successful campaign is foolish.

    • 0 avatar
      Hippo

      Except that this isn’t a trade war in the conventional sense, it is a thuggish administration using inner city extortionist tactics to favour the welfare establishment and the union rackets over the productive middle class.

      As such the middle class might reject Toyota, but will most certainly not consider the wards of the state. In that sense Toyota may become collateral damage of the class warfare initiated by this administration. As it is all the middle class can do is to starve the criminals of tax revenue by producing and consuming as little as possible so as to not generate tax revenue.

    • 0 avatar

      it would be no surprise if such “guests” (occupiers?) were asked to leave.

      Karaya1, the word you are looking for isn’t “guest” or “occupier” it’s conqueror. That would be the USA, us, winner of WW Deuce, aka The Big One perhaps the episode is known to some of the islanders first hand (tho, not of course by textbook).

  • avatar
    mpresley

    Obama is a moron, but, as a politician, he’s generic in this sense and not much different than the one that went before (at least from an economic standpoint). Remember where Bernanke and the first round of bailouts originated?

    The way to deal with decreasing exports and increased unemployment is through measures that decrease command allocation of resources into generally non-productive but politically motivated areas, increase private capital formation, and reward profit from investments. Tariffs will not help, but make matters worse. But they are politically helpful in the short term to those groups necessary for votes, and for politicians with no grounding in capitalism it’s about what can be expected. I’m surprised we haven’t heard about price controls. Wait until inflation shows up.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      I also don’t agree with Obama, particularly in the area of his economic policies, but I respectfully disagree with you on your label of him as a “moron.”

      He’s smart, and therein lies my issue with him: His love of the unions and disdain of large corporations, combined with his persuasive, well-presented, reasoned arguments (by his standard, not ours) are meant to make good sound bites/bytes that will raise morale. I’d prefer a leader that would step up and say, “Okay, enough of this cr@p…shut up, Pelosi, shut up, Christian Coalition…the rest of you, go over into that room and solve this problem.” Unfortunately, that’s probably not going to happen.

      On the other hand, maybe it could happen. My beloved hometown team IS finally playing in the Superbowl this weekend. Anyone see the forecast of ice and snow in Hell?

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      He is not a moron in the technical sense, but I wonder how intelligent he is, especially in economic matters? He has certainly not demonstrated any unique creativity or insight into basic economic processes, but appears to act in a mostly political manner in order to acquiesce to beholden interests. At the same time, I do believe he believes in the goodness of a command economy controlled by the state. But, given who he is, he is not as smart as, say, a Deng Xiaoping or a Hu Jintao, and can therefore likely not pull it off quite as well.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      @Buzzdog…

      For a guy who supposedly disdains large corporations, Obama has sure gone out of his way to make sure many of them – including banks, insurance companies and automakers – didn’t go bankrupt. The facts don’t fit your assertion very well, I think.

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      For a guy who supposedly disdains large corporations, Obama has sure gone out of his way to make sure many of them – including banks, insurance companies and automakers – didn’t go bankrupt.

      Let’s just be clear–the fact that Obama continued to bail out (Bush was first lest anyone forget) companies was not because he does not disdain them, but for other reasons. There is no contradiction. The irony is that short of massive government intervention in the currency reserve market, the US government would be bankrupt.

  • avatar
    Telegraph Road

    While some in the media want to portray the outcry surrounding Toyota’s recalls as an assault on a foreign corporation by an anti-free-trade White House, two much more common memes are that it is an assault on a non-UAW auto company by a union-indebted White House, or that it is an attempt to shore up the prospects and finances of bailout wards GM and Chrysler. Personally, I think the enormous scale of Toyota’s problems (8.1 vehicles recalled with questions of stonewalling) is driving the political commentary, not the reverse. Of course, having an idiot at the helm of the DOT, doesn’t help.

    This is turning into a Rorschach test of political biases.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr Lemming

      Well put. TTAC can sound shrill when it discusses politics.

    • 0 avatar
      also Tom

      Amen. Testing the bounds of civility too.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      Accusations of the fed gov’t being “out to get” Toyota sound much like Hillary’s unfortunate “vast right-wing conspiracy” comment. Toyota’s woes are the confluence of many factors, but to suggest an orchestration of those factors is putting on blinders in an effort to sustain a particular world view that one wants to maintain.

      Many of Toyota’s problems are of their own making: real product defects on a massive scale, being too slow to recognize those defects, and hubris for the past several years over their status as ‘the’ quality auto mfr. After all, large recalls by the D3 are news of the ‘dog bites man’ variety.

      But many of their problems are not of their own making: a party in charge of gov’t that wants to deflect public ire, competitors eager to steal business, and incredibly bad timing to have their defects surface at a time of high public anxiety over finances and security.

      Mix this up with the fact that it is all happening during the February ratings sweeps month when all of the broadcasters, nat’l and local, are looking to goose up their ratings with increased viewership and you get the kind of firestorm that keeps feeding on itself, with coverage of the coverage becoming news itself, e.g. TTAC on CNN today. LaHood’s comment, clumsy tho it was, gets snapped up and flung around the media instantly, becoming so much more than the badly phrased out of context stmt that it was.

      To call all this a gov’t trade war, however, is to be looking for enemies and conspiracies where none exist, and leaves one looking foolish fighting ghosts while wasting efforts. This is nothing more than Toyota’s very real problems being exacerbated by their opponents and being highly amplified by a media hungry for ratings. Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by ignorance.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      It is funny how the tables have turned. Wasn’t it during the last Democratic administration that the other party was anti-NAFTA and anti free trade (i.e. Pat Buchanan is a xenophobe)? Now, the current Democratic administration is perceived to be protectionist and being accused of being anti-free trade by that same opposing party (i.e. Pat Buchanan is an anti-protectionist)?

    • 0 avatar
      Telegraph Road

      @ClutchCarGo
      “Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by ignorance.”
      Exactly.
      Or as Ronnie Schreiber said a few days ago…
      “Look folks, it’s always better to presume stupidity before malice.”
      This is the best explanation for LaHood’s ill-chosen remarks.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Before we accuse the government of wanting to bankrupt Toyota, let’s remember for a moment that Toyota employs tens of thousands of American workers.

      Destroying Toyota during a time of double-digit unemployment would be insane.

      This problem has been of Toyota’s making; if its competitors benefit from it, then that’s Toyota’s fault.

  • avatar
    BDB

    Anybody who thinks people scared away from Toyota by all the issues they’ve been having will defect to General Motors (let alone freaking Chrysler) is on drugs.

    Honda, Hyundai, Ford, in that order are the winners. The first two are foreign and the last one isn’t owned by the government. Toyota bungled the whole response and brought this disaster on themselves, whining about the mean federal government is picking on them to boost GM sales just makes them look even worse.

    And portraying Obama as some Buchanan-like protectionist is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. He hasn’t even tried to even touch NAFTA, for example. There was just some posturing in the rustbelt states during the election and some grumbling about Chinese currency practices but that’s been about it. He’s no more of a protectionist than Bush–some empty gestures (like Bush’s tariffs on Japanese steel) but mostly conforming to the free trade orthodoxy.

    This makes sense politically because the swing states in the next decade will be in the Southwest and Atlantic South, not Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio which bleed electoral votes in the next census.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    The opinion of a Journalist or a Politician printed in a left or right leaning newspaper is worthless.

    Everything turns into a political debate. Toyota is selling a product that may be unsafe. Fix it. Don’t brag about your quality control, then cry foul when you screw up.

    • 0 avatar

      What we have here, in all cases, is the desire to attract eyeballs, if possible by telling readers what they want to hear.

      This is not the typical recall. It’s huge, and people have died. There are similar examples in the past, even without a recall:

      Audi’s unintended acceleration in the 1980s.

      GM’s incinerating pickups in the late 1990s–successfully countered by GM.

      Ford’s rolling Explorers in 2002.

      As seen in the Audi case, people are especially fearful that their car will escape their control and act on its own, horror movie style.

      Why is LaHood taking such an active role? I haven’t looked into this much. On a number of occasions he has demonstrated a lack of control over his mouth–sometimes to the detriment of GM and Chrysler. NHTSA is certainly interested in avoiding blame for not acting sooner, and could well overcompensate in the other direction.

    • 0 avatar

      The Audi untended acceleration was a fraud, perpetrated by 60 Minutes. It was proven (by the NHTSA) that the reason for any “unintended acceleration” was driver stupidity: They had their foot on the wrong pedal.

      GM’s exploding pickups? A fraud perpetrated by Dateline NBC.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      Iroically, GM’s side-saddle fuel tanks resulted in my receipt of a nice little discount coupon, which I used to purchase a Pontiac Vibe for a family member. Ironically, that same Vibe was within a couple of model years of being equipped with the same CTS accelerator pedal.

      If I keep this trend going, do you think that I can eventually use this form of undeserved restitution to “buy” a free vehicle?

    • 0 avatar
      Telegraph Road

      I watched GM’s response to the infamous and fraudulent Dateline NBC segment on GM sidesaddle gas tanks from a TV set in Ford WHQ. Fellow Ford employees at WHQ cheered arch-rival GM’s chief counsel Harry Pearce’s deft dismantling of Dateline NBC. Harry was a hero, not just at GM, but at Ford too. At lunch break, I heard Rush Limbaugh say on the radio, “Somebody should go to jail for this.” It’s probably the only time I’ve agreed with Rush on anything.

  • avatar
    Detroit Todd

    Has the U.S. government banned Toyota from its market? No. Has it even restricted Toyota from it’s market? No.

    The popular media in the U.S. is not owned by the government. The media is doing what they always do — OMG you’re gonna die!!!! They do stories about how your toothpaste might kill you, for eff’s sake.

    Using an outside scapegoat to deflect criticism is the oldest trick in the book. Time and again, people fall for it.

    Indeed. Why have the story revolve around cars that accelerate unintentionally with brakes that do not work correctly? Better to attempt to shift the story to “the meanie U.S. government is out to get poor little us.”

    • 0 avatar
      BDB

      The popular media in the U.S. is not owned by the government.

      You know I can understand that maybe if this were a dispute with China, the Chinese might not understand how a free press works, but Japan should. This is a cynical move, in sports they call it “working the refs” and that’s exactly what’s going on here.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Agreed. I don’t see anything in this Toyota situation that screams “protectionism” or “trade war”. This Nikkei story seems like an attempt to deflect a bit of the heat while everyone is wrapping their heads around just how big the Toyota issue might be. The other three stories seem to come from their own agendas which I will let you decide exactly what they are.

      I also don’t see that the media coverage of the recent Toyota recalls is all that different or more sensationalist than the media coverage was of the Explorer/Firestone debacle from the early 2000′s.

      The U.S. Government has done nothing more than say to Toyota, “You seem to have a problem. Fix it and don’t sell any more of the suspect vehicles until you do.”

    • 0 avatar
      L'avventura

      >>You know I can understand that maybe if this were a dispute with China, the Chinese might not understand how a free press works, but Japan should. This is a cynical move, in sports they call it “working the refs” and that’s exactly what’s going on here

      Its not the Japanese government that is saying any of this, its the press, and its not merely the Japanese press. That’s how the free press works as well.

      Using your analogy, if the “ref” owned the rival team, the ref needs to give an appearance of fairness. That its ownership of a competitor does not in any was influence the fairness in how he treats each teams (even the one that is fighting against the one he owns).

      That’s the thing, when an Obama appointed regulator like Lahood says “Stop driving your Toyotas” then people start asking questions. Keep in mind, none of these accusation were made until the constant barrage of verbal attacks by the government.

      Worse is the fact that we have a Congressman at that same hearing, John Dingell, investing Toyota that is married to a 30-year lobbyist of GM (and a current GM employee), and receives massive campaign contributions from the Big 3 and the UAW. When the ‘refs’ have these very apparent conflicts of interest it becomes a problem.

      Lahood for his part has been incredibly hands-on about GM, something no NHTSA head has ever been (nor had any reason to).

      This quote for instance:

      “Pelosi led a delegation of more than one dozen lawmakers to the show and inspected General Motors’ Chevy Volt, a plug-in electric vehicle. She said they saw “ideas turned into policy turned into product.” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, traveling with Pelosi, says the Obama administration made a “good investment” of taxpayer money in the auto industry.”

      http://www.kxnet.com/getArticle.asp?ArticleId=500624

    • 0 avatar
      BDB

      You really think people who get burned by Toyota over this are going to rush into Chevy and Buick dealerships? Get real. If anyone in the government believes that they’re smoking crack.

      Again, the biggest beneficiary of this is HONDA. That’s the brand Toyota buyers are most likely to cross-shop.

      Maybe, MAYBE Ford will benefit, the only one that does not have government involvement. It’s the only domestic brand import buyers would even glance at for that reason among others. But LaHood doesn’t have anything to do with them.

      As for Toyota intenders buying anything in the Chrysler lineup…haha..ahahahah…AHAHAHA. No.

      As for the current party in power pumping up hype about future technology in domestic automobiles, Bush did the same thing. Remember that photo op with the domestic CEOs in front of the White House with the hydrogen fuel cell prototypes? Presidents cheerlead for American companies all the time, with or without bailouts. What, you don’t think the Japanese PM or German Chancellor ever hypes and cheerleads Toyota or VW?

    • 0 avatar
      L'avventura

      @BDB

      Toyota’s fall from grace, obviously does benefit the domestic automakers. Any marketshare away from Toyota is bound to go to other brands. Moreover, it puts a taint on Japanese brands in general, there’s been a lot of argument in the media who will benefit the most; Honda, Hyundai, Ford.

      In reference to my Pelosi and Lehood quote, my point was that they are talking about Policy->Product and “good investments in GM”. Its not that they are giving credit to GM so much as they are giving credit to the Democratic party and their policy for the creation of the Volt. Their message, “the democratic party bailed out GM and is now producing greener cars then even the Prius”. Bailouts of GM= Good Investment.

      Obviously if the new GM tumbles, and $60B of tax payer money is not returned, the Democratic party is going to be severely criticized. Both the Volt and the GM’s IPO are scheduled to be made within the next year or so. As Ford stock shows, there is a lot of pent-up demand for healthy automakers, and Toyota’s fall is unquestionably going to raise the demand for any GM IPO. All this will happen before the 2012 presidential election when the success or failure of Obama’s economic policies will be center stage.

      I’m not trying to be a conspiracy theorist here. Toyota’s recall is first and foremost the fault of Toyota, but there has been some obvious capitalization of the recall by politicians with ulterior motives. This recall has taken a entirely different dimension after government comments, which can be accused of fear-mongering, and there are conflicts of interest that shouldn’t be ignored.

  • avatar

    I don’t consider the big three really all that American. For, example the only GM cars that are built on American engineered platforms are the Impala, Lucerne/DTS, and Corvette. All Ford cars with the exception of the Crown Victoria are based on foreign platforms. They betrayed America so let them rot.

    As for Obama being pro-manufacturing he just set back NASA’s manned space program years by cancelling Ares and Constellation.

    In short anything is stinks. We are done.

  • avatar
    AJ

    And here we have the change.

  • avatar

    Ah another WSJ opinion screed… but oh it is in TTAC. Why not leave the amateur partisan politics to the sites that are for them – go post with the freepers or something.

    The truth is, Toyota made its reputation selling boring shitty cars as uber-reliable appliances, and when a car is supposed to be something you don’t think about, something you don’t worry about, and all of a sudden it isn’t – that is news. And sure, there is some pro-America bias in the press, because after getting our asses kicked for decades by the Japanese, it is nice to see that they aren’t infallible.

    And it is not like TTAC hasn’t run a million stories about the recall – so are you guys part of this liberal anti-free-trade (read selling out American industry and competitiveness to multinationals) conspiracy as well?

  • avatar
    50merc

    People are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. So let’s be careful to distinguish between them. “… the recent Supreme Court ruling … allows business [and non-profit corporations] to spend unlimited cash to bury dissenting voices. … this ruling undoes over 100 years of bipartisan support…”

    No, no, although that’s how the New York Times Corporation and the president wish to characterize it. Nor does it allow foreign corporation to make political contributions. As a well-informed Justice silently said, “not true”.

    I would also suggest that a nation that runs staggering trade deficits is not engaged in a trade war. Maybe some skirmishes.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    BS. This isn’t a nationalist attack on Japan, no matter how the Nikkei, official mouthpiece of Japan’s business community, wants to spin it. This is a story of an NHTSA which has been willfully ignoring issues with Toyotas for many years and of a mega-corp, Toyota, which has been doing everything in its power to sweep the problems under the rug.

    Consider the sources sited in BS’ piece:

    “The Washington Examiner is a free daily newspaper published in Springfield, Virginia, and distributed around Washington, D.C. and its suburbs. It is owned by Philip Anschutz, one of the world’s richest men, and has a right wing editorial slant.”

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

    Have a look at this piece from the Associate Press for a different view of the situation:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100206/ap_on_bi_ge/us_toyota_the_road_to_recalls

    BTW, if there is a trade war between the US and Japan, Japan has been winning for fifty years. One must also consider the fact that Mr. Schmitt also very much has a dog in the trade hunt.

    • 0 avatar

      One must also consider the fact that Mr. Schmitt also very much has a dog in the trade hunt.

      No, I don’t. I do business between China and Europe solely. My investors are American. They forbade me categorically to export any parts to the USA and Canada, due to the vagaries of the product liability situation there. Do your homework before insinuating ulterior motives.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      I’m gonna take a guess that Bertel’s prime motivations are weisswurst, beer, engaging stories and humour, racing boats, and a japanese chick… ;O)

  • avatar
    KixStart

    I’m interested int The Nikkei’s perspective… but The Washngton Examiner? In the morning, they get up and ask themselves, “How can we kick a liberal, today?” Their views have nothing to do with a trade war and everything to do with ousting Democrats.

  • avatar
    Jack Denver

    I view this as karmic payback. When the Japanese were building up their auto industry (and to this day, for all I know) there were all sorts of bureaucratic obstacles to importing American cars into Japan. All kinds of testing had to be done on each individual car, it would take months to get the car out of customs, etc. so that American cars cost astronomical amounts in Japan and only a handful were sold to enthusiasts as collectibles. One of the reasons the Japanese were able to achieve their strong position worldwide is that they incubated their industry in a protected domestic market (the Koreans did the same). Now, the Japanese consumers were the ones screwed by this in the short term, but in the long term they were able to build up their economy greatly thru protectionism. All the textbooks say that “protectionism is bad” like some kind of mantra that doesn’t require any thought or analysis but I’m not sure this is true if you can get away with it – it’s only bad if it sets off a cycle of retaliation. If you do it and your trade partners just sit there and take it, then it may benefit your country. I think all the “Asian Tigers” have been snickering at us for years for being such suckers – they gave lip service to “free trade” but in practice they were strongly protectionist (and in many instances remain so to this day). Right now, the US economy (including the Treasury) needs all the help it can get – if we can screw Toyota a little bit and get away with it (and I think we can – Toyota has put itself on the defensive) then that’s not so bad for us.

    • 0 avatar
      BDB

      When the Japanese were building up their auto industry (and to this day, for all I know) there were all sorts of bureaucratic obstacles to importing American cars into Japan.

      There still are. Ask Hyundai. They had to recently withdraw from the Japanese market, even though they’re doing well everywhere else. The “invisible wall” and all that.

      RE: protectionism, it’s a bad idea if you have a big trade surplus (like the USA in the ’30s, that’s why Smoot-Hawley was so horrible) but it can be beneficial if you have a big trade deficit and are a net importer (like the USA today). In general I favor bilateral, reciprocal agreements but these multi-lateral byzantine managed trade deals like NAFTA are rotten. And admitting countries that don’t even allow their own currency to be traded externally (like China) into the WTO and given them MFN is downright insane. How in the hell can you have ‘free trade’ in a global system of floating currencies with a major player having no external currency at all?

      And “free trade” doesn’t mean peace, either, that’s one of those things that “everybody knows” that just isn’t so–in July, 1914 Germany’s largest trading partner was Great Britain. Or even more revealingly, in April 1861 there were literally ZERO trade barriers between the Southern and Northern USA (since they were the same nation) but that didn’t stop the South from shooting at Fort Sumter.

    • 0 avatar
      charly

      Huyndai isn’t doing well everywhere else. Hyundai is doing great in America and ok in the rest of the world. Hyundai is really good in making American cars (read big and cheap) and those cars don’t sell well in Japan.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    To me the bottom line is Toyota has done an incredibly poor job on all fronts of this issue leaving them wide open for warranted criticism. In the longterm they’re going to lose some marketshare over it but I think that’s really more a matter of how they handled the problem rather than the problem itself. The Nikkei’s perspective won’t change anything and is of no consequence to Toyota’s U.S. customers the vast majority of which I’m sure aren’t even aware of it.

    In regards to Obama, I have a hard time criticizing his actions given the mess he inherited. It will be many years before the actual results of his policies are fully known. If nothing else he is willing to sacrifice his own political future for what he believes to be beneficial. Continuing on the course we were on prior to his presidency wasn’t an option.

    • 0 avatar
      BDB

      In the longterm they’re going to lose some marketshare over it but I think that’s really more a matter of how they handled the problem rather than the problem itself.

      Yeah, how does that old saying go, again? “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up”.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    firstly i’d like to say that i feel a lot of schadenfreude at seeing toyota stumble so badly… i hate their cars, i hate their corporate structure, hell i even hate their consumers… it is extra satisfying to see them stumble at something they seem to thing they are good at (ie. reliabilty)

    the toyota camry is a car i despise on every level

    i would feel similiarly if it was Sony or Microsoft or Intel or any number of these large companies when they stumble

    but even saying that I feel LaHood is a complete rat and his comments are those of an reactionary populist fool

    this man is clearly ‘Bush-ian’ without the comedic timing (!!!)

    however there’s one thing that should be cleared up… and people obviously haven’t been reading

    the japanese do not have any barriers to american motor companies

    how come VW and BMW and Mercedes sell so well in Japan and yet Ford/GM/Chrysler do not?

    is it because Ford/GM/Chrysler do not make cars that Americans will buy? In that regard how do you expect the Japanese and Europeans to buy them?

    they are traditionally even more particular consumers than americans

    i see the american cars avaiable here and it’s little wonder Ford/GM/Chrysler are in trouble (Ford to a much lesser extent since they have Ford EU who have proven to be extremely competant – GM Opel? less said the better).

    My challenge to Ford/GM/Chrysler is that you should clean you own houses before you try to clean Japanese and European households.

    Get Americans to buy your products before you try to pull the wool over the rest of the world.

    • 0 avatar
      BDB

      How exactly do you explain Hyundai failing in the Japanese market?

    • 0 avatar

      People didn’t buy them

    • 0 avatar
      BDB

      That problem seems to happen an awful lot to foreign mass-market brands in Japan except Volkswagen. BTW I’m curious, what is VW’s market share (Volkswagen brand only, not including Audi)?

    • 0 avatar
      L'avventura

      >>How exactly do you explain Hyundai failing in the Japanese market?

      Same reason why Toyota fails in the S. Korean market (Toyota sells a little over 500-600 cars a month in that region between all their models).

    • 0 avatar
      BDB

      Because South Korea, like Japan, makes it difficult through various means for foreign mass-market brands to compete?

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      korea fails because they offer the same thing that the Japanese offer (ie. uninspired but reliable motoring dross)

      and the japanese are hardly perfect

      do you think that the avg. japanese person would buy a corolla or a hyundai accent or whatever it is

      the avg. japanese person is xenophobic and regard korean products with suspicion

      they do not have that with the German product and will at least entertain a US product give their enthusiasm for everything American

      let’s not be naive… they will never purchase an American hatchback or economy car (like a Cobalt or Aveo or *snort*… a Sebring)

      why would they? would you?

      give them a reason to… they love VW Golfs and Audi A3s. Why is that?

    • 0 avatar
      BDB

      I’d still like to see what market share the VW brand has in Japan. Volkswagen mark only, not Auidi–to see how much they “love” VW. Can’t seem to find it through the Great Gazoogle.

      Oh, and re: anti-Korean sentiment, B.S. has already assured as that the Japanese aren’t xenophobic at all anymore about what they buy, and that they love foreign products if they’re good enough, so anti-Korean xenophobia isn’t the answer.

      So I guess the two remaining explanations are: the Japanese consumer is so demanding and has such high standards, and their products are far superior and Korean, American, and mass-market German (? waiting for VW market share) brands are garbage and the rest of the world is too stupid to understand this, OR that they make it difficult for mass-market foreign brands to do business in Japan.

    • 0 avatar
      charly

      Peugeot sells well in Japan. Volvo too. American car companies had daughters in Japan so why would they compete? There is also the issue that American made cars sell only in the Middle East and Venezuela.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    America Inc. is capitalizing on Toyota’s self-inflicted woes. Get over it. It’s what competitors do.

    Corporations, like fish, rot from the head. Toyota calculated decreasing quality would ratchet up profits, and quality could take a hit without hurting sales. The 1990s abandonment of “fat engineering”, documented earlier in TTAC, led to huge recalls for engine sludge, bad 5-speed and 6-speed transmissions, broken camshafts, rusted truck frames, uncontrolled vehicle acceleration and faulty brakes. Toyota stonewalled owners destroying trust. It lit the fire and is getting burned, falling from first to fifth place in last year’s Consumer Reports’ reliability survey.

    Life is hard, and then you die.

  • avatar
    Littlecarrot

    The newest Toyota that I’ve owned (and still own) was a 1993. I’m too cheap to buy any car new. I guess I’m still benefiting from the “fat product design era.”

  • avatar

    Nobody is complaining about the press. The press is doing what the press does.

    The complaint is

    a.) About the hoodish or downright thuggish remarks of Mr. aptly named LaHood. Everybody knows that both sides were at each others’ throats when the communique says they had an “open and frank discussion” and that the negotiations didn’t go anywhere when there was “an exchange of opinions.” A cabinet member of a civilized nation doesn’t hold feet to the fire.

    b.) The senseless and petty triggering of trade wars over stupid issues such as tires or not being admitted to a Japanese cash for clunkers program because nobody bothered to certify their cars in Japan. Everybody who imports cars to the US must comply with US standards, and everybody who wanted to qualify for U.S. C4C had to have an EPA rating.

    • 0 avatar
      L'avventura

      I’ve noticed some conservative sites like Newsbusters making mention of the media handling of Toyota.

      http://newsbusters.org/blogs/tom-blumer/2010/02/06/afp-asks-us-bullying-toyota-recall-rest-media-indifferent
      http://newsbusters.org/blogs/tom-blumer/2010/02/04/piling-6-12-vids-aps-vid-rotation-are-about-toyota

      But outside the automotive blogs (like Jalopnik or Autoblog) I don’t think the handling of the Toyota case is necessarily agenda-driven so much as plain sensationalist. Lahood’s comments got a lot of coverage because it was so sensational and controversial. It gets people’s attention when a government official tells the American public to stop driving their Toyotas.

      As far as the C4C program, Japan never really pushed back, and it never really became an issue that media or public would be interested in. Even with this Toyota issue, the Japanese government haven’t pushed back either, but there obviously aren’t too happy with the US handling of it.

      While the public and media may forget these issue, regulators don’t. It’ll boil over sooner rather then later in the form of geopolitical friction.

      A recent example is China’s sanctions against Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, etc due to the Taiwan arms sale. This arms sale wasn’t anything new, and no different then previous arms sales to Taiwan, it was planned a year in advance, and there have been no sanctions previously from China over this issue.

      This disproportionate reaction this time is considered by most due a payback for the Google-gate as well as a sign of bad-blood in the Sino-US relationship (there is an article in the current issue of the Economist on this very issue). All this friction will manifest itself in the near future, then it’ll get the attention of the media.

  • avatar
    skcusmg

    Not being an American or resident in the US I could care less about the political debate, or whether Obama is a moron or not. Just looking at some basic facts, one does not have to be a clairvoyent to see the dynamics at play here. Every nation does whatever it can to further it’s own interest in world trade, if it were not so there would be no need for the WTO and the various other agreements that define the rules of trade. The US, by virtue of it’s economic clout has always played the game with a great deal of success even if justice was not always served. In this case it is easy to connect up the dots. First of all, the US is acting in typical fashion. The US bailed out 2 sick, corrupt and failing car companies who have demonstrated a total inability to compete in world markets unless the deck is stacked in their favour. This is Obama’s nod to the backward labour unions in the US. Now the US government essentially owns both GM and Chrysler and all those UAW workers now work for Uncle Sam. The 2 car companies are still inept, still corrupt, still sick and still unable to compete. The US government therefor uses it’s influence to discredit and hopefully ‘restrain’ the top seller without killing it. As a result, Toyota got sh1tcanned. Who’s next? Now none of this means that Toyota did nothing wrong, of course they did, they screwed up, no doubt about it. This sticking gas pedal issue is no more (or less) serious than other issues that many other car companies have or are facing. Toyota’s biggest mistake was giving the US gangster government an excuse to attack them. If Toyota had remained clean, they would have gone after Honda. This is the way America does business. It will backfire on the US in time. The US is no longer the economic colossus it once was and the trend shows continuing decline. In addition, the US seems to be doing everything it can to upset the one country that could bring the US to it’s knees economically, China. Look for the exploding Chinese airline market to exclude Boeing when it shops for airliners. There was a time when this would cause operational difficulties for Chinese airlines but not now. They can get a equal or better product from Airbus in Europe. And on it goes, we have seen it all before. At the end of the day GM and Chrysler will still go out of business and Toyota will recover and thrive, it’s as simple as that.

    • 0 avatar
      StatisticalDolphin

      “US gangster government” AKA ‘LaHoodlums’

      Governments select winners and losers. Why is anyone surprised by this? The current US administration gave a multibillion dollar bailout ‘gift’ from the taxpayers to the auto union and then, to sweeten the deal, exempted the auto union from paying the steep tax on high benefit health insurance plans in the proposed health care reform. Some bad publicity for a rival non-union automaker is small change in comparison to government benefits given already and likely to be provided in the future.

  • avatar
    duncan36

    I would say this administration is a lot more sympathetic to GM and Ford than the Republicans. Who would prefer to see all manufacturing go to China rather than pay a living wage.
    But its the media pushing this. The same media that fed off SARS for months. That fed us H1N1 hysteria for months. That fed us Ford Explorer hysteria for months.
    The crap hit the fan when the tape of the Police Officer careening around in an out of control ES350 hit the news. Out of control machinery is such a primal fear in humans that Steven King has made several books exploiting the fear.
    Then Toyota made the terrible decision to blame the whole thing on misshaped pedals and floor mats. Which didnt sound right to anyone.
    Toyota should have realized there was no avoiding this issue, it wasnt going away, and the media was on the story like a pit bull on a ham bone.

    So the government is a distant third on all this.

    1. Media.
    2. Toyota’s own missteps.
    3. Somewhat pro-GM government.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      I would reverse positions 1 & 2 in the chain of events and ranking.

      Had Toyota taken the issue seriously and proactively worked it to a solution, it would have been a non-issue.

      Toyota didn’t, issue entered the public’s consciousness, Toyota at best dithered, at worst obstructed, media picked up the scent, piled on and it was off to the races…

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      Absolutely. Calling this an Obama organized hit is ridiculous.

      Almost all the rabid, foaming, anti-Japanese, anti-Toyota people are so-called Conservatives or so-called Libertarians (see Jalopnik). Those people were just waiting for something to criticize about Toyota, and have been doing so even before the recall. Look on any automotive website with comments for the last year, and you’ll see biased venom against Toyota. And I don’t think most of those people are so-called liberals.

      This is coming from the media and the people who watch it, the Americans, who often say they value freedom and don’t like big governments or nanny states, but are scared witless at the smallest, least threatening things. These people get scared about a tiny, failed attack on an airplane, despite the fact that driving to the airport is still hundreds of times more dangerous than flying. They get freaked out over a couple of accelerator pedal deaths, but don’t seem to mind killing their own sons, daughters, and foreign citizens in wars whose only point is to funnel money to defense contractors and oil companies.

      I really wonder about this country. I think Obama is doing more to save it than the people blaming him for every random thing.

  • avatar

    This Toyota decline in quality is not going to make either the Aveo or Cruze good cars.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    The real question is why it took so long for the government to get on Toyota’s case.

    Toyota first noticed the problem with CTS pedals in Europe in 2008.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/07/business/global/07toyota.html?pagewanted=1&partner=yahoofinance

  • avatar
    asapuntz

    I realize TTAC is probably not some editorial monolith, but do you guys read your own site? You’ve spent the last 3 weeks bashing Toyota, their quality, their insipid design, and the rest of the media has been doing the same. Now you’re surprised that the government is pandering to this “outcry”?!

    I’m hoping that the government is working on other more important things, but they do tend to grease the squeaky wheel. Of course, that just makes for more press. Toyota is being victimized! Last week they could do no right.

    fwiw, I do feel the gov’t reaction is poorly handled. Their job is to promote safe (*) transportation. Work with (pressure reluctant) automakers to fix problems. Show people this is being done, and tell them that on the off-chance that they experience accelerator binding, you deal with it the same way as in the “old” days of cable-actuated accelerators:
    1) Put the car in neutral so you can think calmly.
    2) Bring it to a safe stop at the side of the road.
    3) Call a mechanic.

    if I didn’t know better, I’d bet there was a conspiracy to weaken both Toyota AND the administration. all i need is a shadowy figure pulling the strings. and to what end?

    (*) also efficient, clean, etc.

  • avatar
    don1967

    We love it when a hero falls. Toyota’s misery is great business for the news pornographers, a guilty pleasure for other fallen stars like GM and Chrysler, and an opportunity for up-and-comers like Hyundai. It’s tough to be da king.

    As for trade wars, they might become a moot point if Obama keeps printing money. Some say the U.S. dollar is on its way to becoming toilet paper, and if this happens the market for imported goods will pretty much dry up on its own. “Buy American” might not be a hollow political mantra in the future. It might become the default choice for consumers.

    • 0 avatar
      AnthonyG

      Absolutely – ever since Toyota was anointed the greatest car maker in the world, by everyone circa 2007, they have been riding for a fall.

      Now they are getting the kicking that the media always hand out when a giant reveals an achilles heel.

      Next, it will be Hyundai (who seem to be flavour of the month here for some reason) maybe Honda, Ford or VW.

      The media love to build up and then tear down – its the nature of the beast.

  • avatar

    What does America have left to trade.

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    - Food, billions and billions of tons. America is the Saudi Arabia of food.
    As to the broader point of the article, don’t forget everyone that Japan just elected an openly Anti-American Prime Minister. There is bound to be some political push-back from our administration, as well there should be. The American consumer has single-handedly driven the Japanese economy for fifty years. If our government wants to take it upon itself to remind the Japanese where there bread is buttered thats fine by me.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    I don’t see any difference between the way toyota is being treated from the way others were treated when they screwed up. I remember ford being on the front page of the newspaper for months with the explorers, and way back with the pinto. And gm was raked over the coals with the truck gas tank problems and the corvair. The only difference is now it’s toyota’s turn.

  • avatar
    DetroitsaRiot

    What are our Commie buddies in China going to do? Stop shipping us poor quality tools, manufactured goods and clothing?? Well we’ll just sue them for patent infringement and trade restriction……….HA!!


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