By on October 20, 2010

A few days ago I wrote about Ralph Nader asking Toyota to break down their somewhat suspect figure of “$1,000,000 every hour” on safety. Well, quite surprisingly, Toyota answered back.

USA Today reports that Toyota issued “a statement” which addressed these issues (but didn’t mention Ralph Nader) and they still stand by their figures. “While the yen and the dollar are constantly fluctuating, we believe that over the course of the year, Toyota’s R&D spending will average about one million U.S Dollars an hour…the amount set forth in our advertisements.” said the statement. Hang on a minute. Nader didn’t want to know your R&D budget. How much did you spend on safety? They won’t tell him.

Well, listen to the advert again: “That’s why we’re investing one million dollars every hour. To improve our technology, and your safety.” So, the figure was never exclusively for safety, which means anything can get lumped into that figure. Research on air conditioning units, more comfy seats, etc.

But hey, they said “our technology, and your safety.” It’s Nader’s problem if he’s hard of hearing.

The cited statement also mentioned a study by Booz & Co. that stated that Toyota spent more on R&D than any other company. It also mentions that next year, the figure being spent on “their technology and our safety” will come in at $8.4 billion. Just slightly lower than last year.

[ED: A press release is nowhere to be found. We called Toyota HQ in Japan, and they don’t have it either. They are digging for it. It could have been made over the phone. Once we have it, you’ll have it.]

[Ed2: We tracked down Mike Michels at Toyota USA. He confirmed that they did not issue a press release regarding Nader, because he did not issue any public statement. He provided a letter directly  to USA Today, so Toyota responded directly to USA Today. USA Today has the letter, and you have it now, too:]

Regarding recent questions about Research & Development investment, Toyota spent  725.3 billion yen, or approximately $8.9 billion, in fiscal year 2010 on technology and safety development.  This is outlined in Toyota Motor Corporation’s public financial reports, which can be found at this web site: http://www.toyota.co.jp/en/ir/library/annual/pdf/2010/p18_19.pdf.

In May 2010, Toyota Motor Corporation projected spending 760 billion yen on R&D during the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011.  The exchange rate used for those projections was 90 Japanese yen to the dollar.  As a result, Toyota is expecting to spend approximately $8.44 billion on R&D in the current fiscal year.  With the yen and dollar currencies constantly moving up and down against each other, we thus believe that, over the course of the year, Toyota’s R&D spending will average around one million U.S. dollars per hour – the number set forth in our ads.

Further, in a recent study, the consulting firm Booz & Company identified Toyota as spending more on Research and Development than any other corporation in 2009, the third straight year Toyota has held that distinction.  That study can be found here: http://www.booz.com/media/uploads/Innovation_1000-2009.pdf

In fact, the auto industry is typically a leader in R&D spending. According to that same Booz & Company study, the auto industry spends $86 billion per year on research and development, more than any other manufacturing industry.  According to the study, for 2009, three out of the world’s top 10 R&D companies were automakers.

In our effort to develop the cars and technologies of the future, Toyota’s Research & Development commitment has generated numerous advancements in the interrelated areas of vehicle safety, quality, durability and sustainability.

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13 Comments on “Toyota Vs Ralph Nader: Get A Hearing Aid...”


  • avatar
    jeffpollak

    It’s Toyota, damn at TTAC they can do no wrong!

    • 0 avatar
      ott

      Actually, I think it’s been proven now beyond a shadow of a doubt that they DID no wrong. Here on TTAC, or anywhere or anytime else during the whole pedal-gate fiasco. I’m glad Toyota is finally standing up for themselves and making Nader look like the loud-mouthed baboon that he is.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    Unfortunately, Ralph Nader is the messenger here – other than a few true blue liberals, he no longer has much sway with the American public.  Toyota could have just brushed criticism aside with silence.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    Nader, what a guy, he tried to prevent consumers having a wide range of vehicle choices and then turned his stubborn ego against his own tribe by running as an independent.
     
    And the muscle cars roll on.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Toyota probably wanted to appease Ralph. They’re afraid he’ll write a new book entitled, “Unsafe at any Unintended Speed.”

  • avatar
    geeber

    Nader said some things that needed to be said in the early 1960s. I always thought that the focus on the Corvair was misplaced, however, as it was only one chapter in the book, and subsequent government inquiries basically cleared the car.

    The safety standards eventually adopted by the federal government in response to the entire Nader-GM episode (where GM stupidly hired private detectives to dig up dirt on him) didn’t really address vehicle handling characteristics!  

    A far more important episode was highlighted in the book, but it has been virtually forgotten today. The 1953 Buick had defective power brakes – the O-ring would fail, resulting in the brake fluid being sucked out of the system. Buick drivers were thus left without any brakes, but GM never issued a formal recall. GM repaired the systems when drivers either brought their cars in because of the brake failure, or for regular service. Now the government forces a recall for that sort of thing, thanks to the effort that Nader began. Nader was completely right in highlighting that episode, and GM deserves every bit of criticism it received for it.

    Nader just hung on to long…plus, he completely blew his credibility over his histrionics when the federal government repealed the nationwide 65 mph speed limit in 1994. “Slow” does not equal “safe.” Eventually, we all reach the point where we need to hang it up and sit on the beach, sipping margaritas, and Nader reached that point about 25 years ago.  He had his day in the sun, and he did some good, but times changed (as did cars and driving conditions), and he needed to move with them. He ultimately didn’t.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    I think this ad is just as lame as the GM payback ads.  Technically accurate but terribly misleading.  I think Toyota should be called out for doing the same thing.

  • avatar
    kenwood

    Waitaminit, Nader is still alive?

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    The government cleared the Corvair if you pulled a dumb-ass stunt and let half the air out of the front tires like the manufacturer said to. The later models with the re-designed suspension was the real-world solution to the substandard original design. Instead of also fixing the engine issues they ran from the whole car. They (and we) paid a price for that unfortunate decision.
     
    Ford read from the Corvair playbook and convinced themselves games with tire air pressure was a fine solution to the bad Explorer suspension design.  They failed to read the fine print where GM got their ass kicked in courtrooms from shore to shore. Ford toughed it out and builds a much-improved product.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      GM did not “get their asses kicked” in courtrooms over the Corvair. What happened was that GM’s insurance company settled in the Perini case, much to GM’s chagrin. GM subsequently took over the defense of the Corvair. Several cases were then consolidated into one, big case, and GM WON that case. Corvair litigation basically faded away at that point.

      The Corvair’s handling was cleared by both NHTSA in 1971 (the report was released in 1972) and a 1972 study by Texas A&M University. NHTSA compared the 1960-63 Corvair to the Falcon, Valiant, VW Beetle and Renault Dauphine and the second-generation model. It’s findings were reviewed a panel of engineers. It’s handling was not dangerous compared to its contemporaries.

      And GM “ran from the whole car” because of the Mustang and the beancounters’ dislike of the Corvair, not because of Ralph Nader. GM had decided to kill the Corvair BEFORE Nader’s book was published, primarily because the conventional Mustang slaughtered the Corvair in sales. Plus, the beancounters hated that the Corvair shared virtually nothing with any other GM vehicle. The new 1967 Camaro basically replaced the Corvair, and it used a platform that would also be used on the 1968 Chevy II Nova. Plus, it used the standard lineup of Chevrolet engines, unlike the Corvair.

      If it hadn’t been for Nader’s book, GM probably would have killed the Corvair after the 1966 model year, but the corporation didn’t want it to look as though Nader’s book had forced GM to kill the car. So the Corvair soldiered on through May 1969, when production finally stopped. If anything, Nader extended the lifespan of the second-generation model!

      Incidentally, using tire pressure to balance handling was not unique to the Corvair. The Cadillac Eldorado did the same thing, and I don’t recall Ralph Nader saying anything about that.

      The Corvair was different, but not necessarily unsafe. But best-selling books do not spring from that sort of conclusion.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I scratch my head about Nader. Like geeber said, he did some good things, which led to some necessary reforms in the auto industry. He seemed to “jump the shark” too many years ago, though, and have no idea of what he stands for anymore.

    Toyota, on the other hand, 1 million per hour on R&D, and the milquetoast Camry and Corolla are all we get? Well, their logos on their cars are bigger than almost everyone else’s, so I suppose that’s money well spent!


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