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…)
A quiet Sunday. Time to fire up Google and put in “Toyota AND [cause OR reason].” We come up with ample explanations why Toyota is not called Toyoda. Or why Peiping turned into Peking, and then into Beijing. What about the causes of sudden acceleration? Let’s see what we find. (If you have other things to do on a Sunday: We find a lot of questions and no answers.) (Read More…)
No politician worthy of your vote will pass up on the chance of publicly bashing the heads of foreign corporate types with deep pockets. And so, the Senate will convene its Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation next Tuesday. They will repeat this week’s grilling until perfectly good Kobe steak is well done and reduced to dog food.
Tuesday’s cast will consist of familiar faces: Ray LaHood will again “go into the weeds” and hold Toyota’s “feet to the fire” until all cars – well, at least those of Toyota, will be “100 percent safe.”
Smooth Yoshimi Inaba, Prez. of Toyota Motor North America will bring his baritone to bear. The congress casting crew was obviously dissatisfied with Akio Toyoda playing the role of the duplicitous villain. He will not be called and can (phew…) go home to Toyota City. (Read More…)
Akio Toyoda is spending the weekend in Japan, being prepped for his appearance in front of the modern day version of the tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition, better known as a Congressional Hearing.
According to Reuters, and as suggested by TTAC, Toyoda “is likely to undergo intense preparation. Toyota may hire lawyers to drill him with mock questions, one consultant said. A company source said it had not yet been decided whether Toyoda would speak in Japanese or English, but the company has already contacted some translation companies.”
The weekend drill was interrupted by the news that State Farm had informed the NHTSA as early as February 27, 2004, that the insurance company had five claims of unwanted acceleration in the 2002 Lexus ES 300 during the previous 12 months. Reuters broke the story, writing “the insurer said earlier this month it had contacted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in late 2007. However, prompted by the public interest in Toyota, the insurer reviewed its records again and has now found that it contacted safety regulators initially in 2004.” All hell broke loose … (Read More…)
Public and politicians in Japan are not enthused about Toyota’s latest utterings, especially at yesterday’s news conference. “At home, fiercely loyal Japanese drivers are wondering how a firm with a deserved reputation for quality and reliability could allow substandard vehicles to slip through its vaunted quality-control apparatus,” reports the Christian Science Monitor from Toyko. The natives are getting restless … (Read More…)