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. (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…)
The WSJ reports that “senior officials at the U.S Department of Transportation have at least temporarily blocked the release of findings by auto-safety regulators that could favor Toyota Motor Corp. in some crashes related to unintended acceleration, according to a recently retired agency official”. Governmental departments suppressing documents? Much like Toyota suppressed their design flaws which landed them a record $16.4m fine? You have my interest… (Read More…)
Remember how Toyota was slapped with a $16.4m fine for allegedly withholding information and delaying recalls? Remember how Toyota was served again with a subpoena for information, what many read as the prelude for another $16.4m fine? (If anyone again says that $16,4m is pocket change, please send me the pocket change.) Well, there are some people in Washington who claim that it’s the U.S. government that might be withholding information. (Read More…)
So when you thought things at Toyota are getting back to normal, what with NHTSA backpedaling on their ghost in the machine busting attempts, here comes a biggie: A federal grand jury in New York served Toyota with a subpoena, seeking information relating to defects in its steering relay rods. Fancy lawyers call that a subpoena duces tecum, and charge more. The Washington Post reckons this might “potentially widen an investigation that began with reports of sudden unintended acceleration.” (Read More…)
Remember GM’s Heated Windshield Washer Fire Fiasco? The one where the “Hotshot” unit got so hot that cars went up in flames? GM recalled them. Our friend Carquestions reveals that this doesn’t keep you from buying one. Why is it still for sale, ask you? Carquestions has the answer: NHTSA was asleep at the wheel again. Says Carquestions: “NHTSA failed to list it. NHTSA is supposed to issue an equipment recall.” Instead, they just called GM. The part is widely available at a parts counter near you. Nobody is saying this has anything to do with the fact that it is a GM part. That would simply be irresponsible conspiracy-mongering.
Welcome to amateur hour. As reported yesterday, The Wall Street Journal claimed in a story that Toyota’s “data recorders can lose their information if disconnected from the car’s battery or if the battery dies—as could happen after a crash.” Their source was “a person familiar with the situation.” Commentator Carquestions concluded that the source doesn’t know what he or she is talking about. After we wrote about it, Carquestions fingered the not so knowledgeable source as “a secretary within Media Relations at the DOT.”
Instead of talking to a secretary, the WSJ could have done what we did: Call Toyota headquarters in Tokyo. (Read More…)
On the back of the news from the NHTSA that they can’t find evidence of Sudden Unintended Acceleration (SUA) electronic gremlins, you’d think that Toyota would be feeling smug about themselves. You’d want to shout this from the rooftops, wouldn’t you? “It’s the drivers, stupid!” If I were Akio Toyoda, I’d show this to Bob Lutz, a bloke who took great delight in knocking Toyota throughout this affair. But what was Toyota’s European division’s reaction to all of this? Humility. (Read More…)
People “familiar with the findings” of NHTSA’s investigation into unintended acceleration in Toyotas tell the WSJ [sub] that after studying “dozens” of black boxes, the DOT has
found that at the time of the crashes, throttles were wide open and the brakes were not engaged… The results suggest that some drivers who said their Toyota and Lexus vehicles surged out of control were mistakenly flooring the accelerator when they intended to jam on the brakes.
Pre-recall, Toyota was the company to emulate. It was very profitable, its business and production model was the envy of the world (with Lexus-owning Alan Mulally praising it) and it had an iron grip on quality and reliability (even though Honda could have had that title). Then came “acceler-gate”. Customers were petrified their Toyotas would creep out of their garages and run them down in the middle of the night. The government held numerous show trials senate hearings to give the illusion that it was protecting the American people from the nasty foreigners. Only an outcast few questioned the fact that the hearings were conducted by an entity which held significant stakes in two of Toyota’s competitors. If you think about it, is like going to trial on a murder charge and the judge and jury are made up of members of the victim’s family. Yes, it looked like Toyota was down and out. Then, something amazing happened. The ABC News’ “story” on Toyota acceleration was found to be a fake. Customers’ accounts of Toyotas going wild were exposed as lies and some countries stuck by Toyota. So after this roller-coaster ride, was else could happen? Well… (Read More…)
If checking whether your car has been recalled is part of your morning routine and civic duty, then you were greeted by the above message this morning. Defects appear to be contagious. The insidious part: The NHTSA recall database appears to be operational. You are left clueless about what is and what isn’t working. Troubles without a fix? Ghost in a machine? Is the database safe for us to use? (Read More…)
Before the TREAD act came about in the year 2000, I had a PowerPoint chart showing the inside of a U.S. jail, along with inmates (I won’t show the image to avoid a discussion of racism). The headline was: “This is where your career can end.” It was for internal Volkswagen consumption only. Somehow, imprisonment never became law. This was then, this is now: If Washington lawmakers get their wish, managing a car company can imperil livelihood and freedom of the top managers. (Read More…)