The AP [via Google] reports that Toyota’s board has voted to pay $32.4m on top of the $16.4 it already paid the US Department of Transportation in connection with its handling of several recalls. The first involved Toyota’s handling of gas-pedal entrapment by floormats in its vehicles that were part of the Unintended Acceleration scandal earlier this year. The other involved steering rods in certain 4Runners and T-100 pickups that were not recalled despite a 2004 Japanese market recall for the same parts on Hilux pickups.
Bloomberg reports that a lawsuit accuses Toyota of a widespread coverup of unintended acceleration in its vehicles. The suit alleges that
“Toyota technicians” confirmed that vehicles were unexpectedly accelerating and the company bought back the vehicles, had customers sign confidentiality agreements and didn’t disclose the problems to regulators… In testimony about acceleration defects before Congress, Toyota Motor Corp. didn’t disclose that the technicians had replicated instances of sudden unintended acceleration not caused by pedals or mats… The company also didn’t report the customer agreements to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration… Toyota ordered employees to remove names of executives from acceleration related e-mails and to stop using specific acceleration terms in e-mails to prevent damage to the company in litigation
Steven Curtis, a spokesman for Toyota’s U.S. sales arm in Torrance, California, said today in an e-mail that no technicians for the company or field specialists confirmed unintended acceleration in vehicles. He said the plaintiffs’ lawyers are referring to service technicians employed by dealerships, which are independent businesses… the claims are based on anecdotes and fail to identify any specific defects in the vehicles.
Plaintiffs claim that dealer techs are “agents of the company” and that vehicle repurchases and confidentiality agreements are proof positive of a coverup. Toyota admits that it investigated and repurchased two vehicles after dealer techs found “acceleration events,” but says its factory technicians were unable to replicate any problems. If this sounds like a complicated mess of he-said-she-said, consider that this suit is just one of 300 currently pending against the world’s largest automaker. The lawyers will probably be busy with this one for decades.
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…)
Do you remember when Saturn made a last ditch attempt to bring customers back to their showrooms? It asked us to “Rethink” Saturn. Whatever our perception was of them, we almost certainly had it wrong and we had to check them out once more. Ford did a similar thing with “Have you driven a Ford lately?” It’s quite a clever strategy, convince the customer that they had it wrong about your product and invite them to try them again. Well, Toyota seems to trying a similar tactic in order to woo customers back and polish up their corporate image. Now at this point you’re expecting me to unveil some hokey advert which asks us “Try Toyota” (if Toyota is reading this, give me a call and we can work out a licensing fee for my ad slogan). Wrong. It’s not their products. They are fine.
Toyota asks us to rethink the meaning of recall. (Read More…)
This isn’t so much a news item as a “Congress finally figured it out” item. A preliminary report by the National Research Council, recently revealed to congress, shows that of 58 Toyota “black box” event data recorders from crashes which occurred during the recall scandal
35 showed that at the moment of impact, the driver hadn’t depressed the brake pedal at all. Fourteen more showed partial braking, while nine showed the brake depressed at the “last second” before the crash.
There were a handful of other results where the brake was pressed early and let go, or in which both the gas and brake pedals were pressed at the same time. There also was one case of pedal entrapment by a floor mat.
In five cases, the electronic recording device failed to work.
The WSJ [sub] notes that the investigation is ongoing, and that no official conclusions have been drawn, but that the finding vindicates an earlier report for which the WSJ had taken mysterious flack. For a complete look at the NRC-NHTSA study, and why it is highly unlikely to ever find a “ghost in the machine” in Toyota’s electronic throttles, check out TTAC’s review of the pre-study NHTSA-NRC presentation.
China’s quality regulator has ordered the recall of 875 imported C30 vehicles. What’s wrong with the car? Nothing. (Read More…)
An anonymous Toyota Tech sent us these recent images of a 2008 Prius and its highly questionable pedal-floormat interface. Did nobody tell this guy that Toyota has had some problems with floormat pedal interference, and that there had been a recall? Did he somehow miss the months-long media frenzy? This is yet more proof that there is literally no way to completely prevent unintended acceleration, even if the problem has been identified and a recall has been issued. Remember folks, when it comes to cars only you can keep you safe.
Carquestions noticed a troubling issue with the latest Wall Street Journal report on the investigation of Toyota’s black-box data: the report cites its anonymous source as saying that “black box” event data recorders (EDRs) can lose their data if disconnected from the battery. Carquestions points out that this is not the case, cites the appropriate regulations and concludes that it sounds like this source doesn’t know what he or she is talking about. Meanwhile, Jalopnik is running with the story that Toyota planted the story… but then, why would Toyota imply that its own black boxes don’t meet regulatory standards? Especially when Toyota’s official comment is that it has yet to draw any conclusions from the investigation. For a story with such a logical conclusion (yes, most people are bad drivers) this is all getting a bit complicated.
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…)
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…)
Toyota must have recalled what seems to be all its cars on the road (well, some 8m to 9m worldwide to be halfway exact.) Now it’s Chrysler’s turn. Last week’s announcement for pedals with sticktion was just the warm-up. The serious recalls are coming now.
It was just this guy that thought that this was how you got something to Toyota’s research and develop office
Sgt. K.S. Dickson of the Winfield (West Virginia) State Police detachment had wvgazette.com by way of explaining the recent bomb scares at four of Toyota’s US facilities. Apparently the suspicious packages were sent by a Nigerian inventor trying to sell his turn signal design to Toyota. After one package was “disrupted” by a police bomb squad, it was discovered that
There were no explosives in the box, just relay switches, wiring and film canisters, in addition to a letter from the Nigerian man claiming to be an engineer