The National High-Speed Train Network seems to go nowhere, fast. But wait, here’s the next big thing: (Read More…)
Members of the media and the legal profession who receive regular updates from the U.S. Department of Transportation were in for a shock this morning as they opened the last announcement from NHTSA. ZoneAlarm by Check Point Software, which claims market leadership in the firewall and security business, warns that a DOT press release is a “possible fraud attempt.” (Read More…)
Welcome to Tinfoil Time. A public service for paranoids and their enemies. When the NHTSA went after Toyota for their runaway cars, some people (me, included) saw this as a transparent attempt to undermine Toyota in order to make GM and Chrysler (A.K.A new arms of the US government) more attractive both in terms of purchasing their products and the IPO’s. But now that the circus is leaving town, is the NHTSA looking for a new victim? Whilst searching the net, I saw (part of) an article (sub) which mentions how Ford’s North American market share is on the rise. Sure, Toyota’s market share in the U.S. dropped by 1.5 percent compared to September 2009. But GM did not pick up those sales. They lost 2.8 percent. The winners were Ford (+ 1.4 percent), and Chrysler (+2.1 percent).I also remember a poll that was taken which claimed that how 54 percent of people were less likely to buy a GM car because of their bailout. Rising sales at Ford and bad will towards GM? I’ve seen this scenario before! The next stage is now the NHTSA will tell us to stop driving our Fords. Trouble is, Ford doesn’t have any recalls of recent. So what can the NHTSA do? You recycle a recall. (Read More…)
Ray LaHood is great, isn’t he? When that big nasty corporation, Toyota, was building those awful machines that were murdering people and their children in their sleep in the middle of the night, he urged everyone to “stop driving your Toyotas” (Ford also had a problem with unintended acceleration, but LaHood couldn’t go after them with the same vigor as he was busy dealing holding “Toyota’s feet to the fire” at the time). His useful piece of advice led to a calm and controlled recall and gave people the courage to come forward and give their horror stories of how their Toyotas went all “HAL” on them. Then came allegations that Ray and the NHTSA were suppressing a report that confirmed it wasn’t the cars but driver error. Well, Ray knew he was being stabbed in the back but you can’t keep a good man quiet for long… (Read More…)
So far, it had only been the usual people “familiar with the findings” that whispered to the WSJ that the NHTSA has found bupkis in their search for the ghosts in Toyota’s machines, and that there is growing suspicion of the NHTSA that it could have been the wrong foot on the wrong pedal again.
Now, the Financial Times writes for the first time that “US government officials have acknowledged that they have so far found no fault with the carmaker’s electronic throttle controls. They have suggested that many complaints of unintended acceleration that have dogged Toyota stem from driver error rather than defective equipment.” (Read More…)
Did someone say that the Chinese are good at – how shall we put it – warming up to foreign ideas? Ray LaHood’s revenue-generating ideas must have impressed the hell out of the Chinese. I can just imagine the discussion: “Come on, the Americans raise the penalty from $16.4m to $200m, so why can’t we? It’s in the name of safety. Ni dong bu dong?” Now therefore, “the Chinese government is set to impose much stricter penalties on automakers if they hide problems with their vehicles to avoid recalls,” reports The Nikkei [sub].
So far, automakers got away with a financial slap on the wrist. Under current rules, introduced in 2004, covering up automotive defects can cost a pittance of $4430, max, no matter how many cars are affected. Under newly proposed rules, hiding a defect could downright wipe out an automaker in China. (Read More…)
Talk about timing: While Trans Sec LaHood was in Japan yesterday, ostensibly to look a trainsets, while he toured Toyota instead and uttered dark “time will tell” threats, while he said that his people are still working on the evidence for a second $16.4m federal fine, back in Washington, the timer was set for yet another ticking 16.4 mega-tonne bomb. (Read More…)
U.S. Transport Secretary Ray LaHood is in Japan today. He’s looking at trainsets. Japan is bidding on the U.S.A.’s (long in the) future high speed rail network. So is everybody else in the world, including the Chinese. Good luck to both of them. While in Japan, LaHood personally inspected Toyota’s safety facilities in Toyota City to see whether they are up to snuff. You think Mr. “Feet to the Fire” LaHood gave Toyota a clean bill of health? Think again. (Read More…)
Japanese transport minister Seiji Maehara came to Washington and called on his U.S. counterpart Ray LaHood. Both agreed “that massive recalls of Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles should not hurt the Japan-U.S. alliance and economic relations,” Japanese officials quoted by The Nikkei [sub] said.
LaHood answered Maehara that the U.S. government is treating Toyota in a fair manner, and that Washington is handling the matter based on rules. (Rimshot.) (Read More…)
On April 5, the NHTSA levied their largest civil penalty in recorded history. $16,375,000 against Toyota, because “they knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from U.S. officials and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families.” When we reported that, people thought Toyota would just appeal and drag it out. Not so easy, said The Nikkei [sub]. Toyota is between a rock and a hard place: “Admitting to the charge could strengthen the cases of car owners suing the firm, while refuting it risks inflaming U.S. public opinion.” Toyota found a way out. (Read More…)
Last evening, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood declared he’d be seeking the maximum penalty from Toyota. That’s $16.4m, because “they knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from U.S. officials and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families.” That’s the largest civil penalty the U.S. Department of Transportation has ever sought. According to Reuters, “previously, the largest fine was $1 million against General Motors Co for failing to promptly recall windshield wipers in 2002-2003 model vehicles.” One would think Toyota can pay that out of petty cash. But the matter has Toyota concerned. Plaintiff lawyers are rubbing their hands. (Read More…)