Like GM’s infamous “payback” commercial, this Toyota ad walks right up to the point of a big lie, allowing the viewer to believe something while they’re actually being told something subtly different. Toyota never says “we spend a million dollars every hour on safety-related technology,” but they sure make you want to believe it. In reality, the “million dollars every hour” represents Toyota’s global R&D budget, some undisclosed portion of which is spent on safety-related technology. Toyota’s explanation of this intentionally confusing claim, after the jump.
Toyota gave the following response to the NY Times‘ request for clarification
Sona Iliffe-Moon, a Toyota spokeswoman, declined to estimate the proportion devoted specifically to safety.
“The $1 million figure represents Toyota’s R&D spending on new technology and safety, much of it allocated to quality and safety features,” she said. “A specific amount would be nearly impossible to estimate as nearly every component of our vehicles is designed with safety in mind, including steering, brakes, seats, ergonomics, weight, even where the radio is placed.
“Passive and active safety components are integrated throughout our vehicles,” she said, “most of which are invisible to the driver.”
Maybe instead of touting its R&D spend (and implying that little of it goes to non-safety related projects like, I don’t know, hybrid technology), Toyota should start figuring out how it can improve response time when things do go wrong. The latest example of a delayed defect response at Toyota involves the latest engine recall. According to BusinessWeek, the valve spring defect in question was first reported as early as 2007.