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.