Pre-recall, Toyota was the company to emulate. It was very profitable, its business and production model was the envy of the world (with Lexus-owning Alan Mulally praising it) and it had an iron grip on quality and reliability (even though Honda could have had that title). Then came “acceler-gate”. Customers were petrified their Toyotas would creep out of their garages and run them down in the middle of the night. The government held numerous show trials senate hearings to give the illusion that it was protecting the American people from the nasty foreigners. Only an outcast few questioned the fact that the hearings were conducted by an entity which held significant stakes in two of Toyota’s competitors. If you think about it, is like going to trial on a murder charge and the judge and jury are made up of members of the victim’s family. Yes, it looked like Toyota was down and out. Then, something amazing happened. The ABC News’ “story” on Toyota acceleration was found to be a fake. Customers’ accounts of Toyotas going wild were exposed as lies and some countries stuck by Toyota. So after this roller-coaster ride, was else could happen? Well…
The Wall Street Journal reports members of congress, consumer advocates and product-liability lawyers have continually suggested that engine electronics could be the source of the Sudden Unintended Acceleration (SUA). There’s just one problem with that hypothesis. The NHTSA is having trouble finding any electrical gremlins with Toyota vehicles.
To assist in their ghostbusting search, NHTSA recruited the help of the most august body of scienctif knowledge, the National Academy of Sciences. The NHTSA needs help- “We have not actually been able to find a defect of electronic-throttle-control systems in Toyota vehicles” said Dan Smith of the NHTSA to the assembled panel of scientists. As far as Mr Smith can see, there’s only two causes of SUA, floor-mat entrapment of the pedals (which we already knew about) and accelerator pedal which are slow to idle (which was fixed by the “shim”). Mr Smith didn’t rule out electrical gremlins (smart move) and said that the investigations are ongoing (until people forget they were barking up the wrong tree, though he may not have said that part). To add further insult to Toyota’s injury, Roger Saul, who also works for the NHTSA, told the panel of the National Academy of Sciences that since Toyota’s first recall in October 2009, they received complaints of 64 crashes involving 78 deaths. How many could possibly be Toyota’s fault? “Regulators have been able to verify that only one of those incidents was caused by a vehicle defect,” Saul said. Someone send Saul to Plum Island! What we’ve got here is a serious case of highly contagious foot in mouth disease. Or should he be telling the truth?
NHTSA Chief David Strickland also told the panel that unintended acceleration is a problem that affects all major car manufacturers. Really, Mr Strickland? I could have told you that. What you can tell me, is when the NHTSA will launch an investigation into all major car manufacturers.