By on October 23, 2010

Everybody, please help me out here and look out of the window: Is the sun rising in the west? No? Are clocks running backwards? No? Then WTH is going on? NHTSA Chief David Strickland praised, yes praised automakers for their dispatch on recalls, and wait until you hear this: Strickland gave a gold star to Toyota for its improvements.

All that happened in an unprecedented interview with the Detroit News. Basically, Strickland says that automakers are playing ball, even after the NHTSA has “increased the pace” of their investigations.

Automakers are making “the right decisions in terms of safety and consumers,” Strickland says. And wonders of wonders, Strickland doesn’t take credit for that. Are the automakers suddenly good, good boys, because the NHTSA got hardnosed? No way, says Strickland

“I don’t think there’s anything that’s changed in the core DNA of what we do here at NHTSA.” See, he even picks up the favorite word in the industry, DNA. (Which formerly stood for “defect not acknowledged.” Even that has changed. Over to you …)

However, Srickland concedes that the NHTSA is opening investigations faster, and after fewer complaints. He also admits that the NHTSA “has taken a harder line with automakers in some cases.” But a change in DNA? Nah.

In this year, automakers have recalled about 15m vehicles in about 500 separate campaigns. (Did you notice that we went back to ignoring most of them? We’d be, if we wouldn’t.)

As far as Toyota goes, you know, the company Strickland’s boss LaHood had called “safety deaf”, Strickland has nothing but praise. He extols a “change in how Toyota approaches defects” and says that Toyota is “working very hard to be a better company going forward.”

“Toyota really is taking safety much more seriously than they did before I took office,” says Strickland, who started running NHTSA January.

Toyota’s reaction? Thanks for the flowers, but the praise should go to the industry as a whole. The “whole recall landscape has kind of changed since our own incident,” and all automakers are now expected to be “forthcoming” said Toyota vice president of product communications, Jim Colon.

So everybody is lovey-dovey again? No bad feelings? Witch hunt, what witch hunt?

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4 Comments on “NHTSA Hearts Toyota. You Did Read Right...”

  • avatar

    “Toyota really is taking safety much more seriously than they did before I took office,” says Strickland, who started running NHTSA January.

    Meaning that they didn’t take safety seriously before January? What a crock of self-serving shit. Get real. Strickland is a figurehead, nothing more. Most automakers spend billions on vehicle safety. That’s billions, with a B, without having to be told that vehicle safety is the most important feature in a vehicle. Duh. Strickland or the NHTSA have nothing to do with that, but his statements make it sound as if his vaunted arrival to his  NHTSA post made it so.

  • avatar

    i’ve said it before (somewhere :-), i’ll say it again. the optimistic interpretation is that the NHTSA doesn’t have the resources to micro-manage the development of electronic technologies in critical car systems, so they crack down hard on Toyota because
    – Toyota will actually improve its products and processes
    – other automakers will copy those products and processes

  • avatar

    Taxpayer-teat-sucking Vogon.

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