U.S. Transport Secretary Ray LaHood is in Japan today. He’s looking at trainsets. Japan is bidding on the U.S.A.’s (long in the) future high speed rail network. So is everybody else in the world, including the Chinese. Good luck to both of them. While in Japan, LaHood personally inspected Toyota’s safety facilities in Toyota City to see whether they are up to snuff. You think Mr. “Feet to the Fire” LaHood gave Toyota a clean bill of health? Think again.
According to LaHood, “time will tell.”
“I believe that they have put in place some measures that will enable us at the Department of Transportation to have a better handle and a better form of information if they’re carried out,” LaHood told a news conference in Toyota. “And what I told Mr. Toyoda today, these measures are important measures but I use the American colloquialism: the proof is in the pudding.”
If that sounds a bit ambivalent, or downright dismissive to you, then you are not alone. Quite possibly, the frightened Japanese already convened a conference of their pastry chefs.
Last month, Toyota agreed to pay a record $16.4 million federal fine as penance for delaying a safety recall over defective accelerator pedals. Currently, U.S. regulators are sifting through 500,000 documents to see whether they can assess a second fine, based on the theory that there were two separate defects in the pedals.
LaHood says the research is still ongoing, and that it “will be a while.” The government needs the money. One fine barely pays for a mile of high speed rail.
Honda and Nissan will be next on LaHood’s visiting schedule, says Reuters.
Mr. Secretary: The trains are built by Hitachi and Kawasaki Heavy.