By on February 28, 2010

Let’s make something very clear: This is not a post about Toyota. We are not advocating or accusing any brand. This is a post about a phenomenon called sudden unintended acceleration. An American phenomenon, as it seems at first glance. To get to the bottom of it, we need your help.

MarkKyle64 asked an interesting question during the discussion of TTAC’s NHTSA Data Dive: 95 Cars Ranked In Rate Of Unintended Acceleration Complaints:

”Can TTAC find out, for example, if German drivers report lower levels of UA than American drivers?”

I tried to. In an admittedly unscientific way. I had no other choice. The Kraftfahrtbundesamt (KBA), Germany’s counterpart to NHTSA, doesn’t provide an on-line complaint box. They publish an annual report about the amounts of recalls. They assist the manufacturers during recalls by providing the addresses of all owners of the vehicle. They help find tardy drivers of recalled vehicles in “follow-up campaigns.” In severe cases, they send a note to the driver that his or her car is illegal to drive because the car had not been brought in for the corrective service. However, the responsibility for a recall rests with the manufacturer. There is no complaint database. If you ask the KBA whether your car is affected by a recall, the answer is: “Ask your manufacturer.” Except for detailed rules on how to go about a recall, just in case you want to initiate one, you will find very little about recalls here.

Hence, the unscientific way. I typed Toyota AND “Ungewollte Beschleunigung” into Google.

Ungewollte Beschleunigung” is the accepted German translation for “unintended acceleration.” Type it in, and you will find a lot of reports about UA in the USA. So far, I haven’t found a single mention of an ungewollte Beschleunigung happening in Germany. Nothing. Neither for Toyota. Nor for any other car. Admittedly, I gave up after sifting through many pages of Google. But here is another indicator:

The German press, usually more than happy to increase their circulation, likewise came up empty. They intimate it’s an American affliction.

The German magazine Focus says: “Ungewollte Beschleunigung still remains a mystery.” Auto-Presse says: “Especially in the U.S.A., where most of the cars have an automatic transmission, the so-called ‘Sudden Unintended Acceleration’ can look back at a long tradition.”

But no mention of a German case. “Ungewollte Beschleunigung” doesn’t even warrant an entry in the German version of Wikipedia. If you want to find out what moves the Germans, who are obsessed with writing everything down, consult the German Wikipedia. You will find entries from “Augenbrauenpiercing” (eye brow piercing) to “zappenduster” (pitch-dark), but there is nichts about “ungewollte Beschleunigung”, not even in other articles.

As I am still in Tokyo, I asked Tomoko Schmitt, TTAC’s advisor for cross-cultural affairs, to do the same experiment in Japanese. The Japanese are a bit like the Germans of Asia: Exacting, nitpicking, and everything is documented. First we had to find the proper word for unintended acceleration. I instructed Frau Schmitto-San to consult Japanese reports about Toyota’s troubles in the U.S.A. to get the exact word.

The word is “itoteki denai kasoku” or “not intentional acceleration.” We did the same Google test. Forget about replicating it in the Japanese version of Wikipedia unless you know how to type Japanese. You would have to input “itoteki” in kanji, then “denai” in hiragana, and “kasoku” in kanji. Never mind, we did the hard work for you. Nothing there.

In the press, the Japanese reports about “itoteki denai kasoku” are mostly about the American phenomenon. But nothing escapes the Japanese urge for meticulous record keeping. Jiji Press, Japans leading wire service, quotes Japan’s Transport Minister Seiji Maehara. At a press conference on February 24, the Minister said that from 2007 to 2009 there were 134 reports of “itoteki denai kasoku” in Japan. 38 of those were about Toyota vehicles. “Toyota’s number is not particularly out of proportion,” said the minister. But he promised, his Ministry will look into all the cases, especially those of Toyota. Given the fact that Toyota’s Japanese market share hovered around 50 percent (including mini cars,) the number does not set off alarm bells.  Actually, it makes Toyota look good.

Before the Minister’s press conference a week ago, “itoteki denai kasoku” wasn’t a topic in Japan. Even in the enthusiast forums of Mixi (Japan’s premier social networking site), the matter gets a “mondai nai” (no problem.)

One thing is clear so far: Germany doesn’t get UA incidents worthy of mention. Japan, a country with a population approximately half of the U.S.A., receives 134 reports in 3 years. The U.S.A. received nearly 6000 complaints for all brands for the 2008 model years alone, writes Consumer Report. It’s an UA pandemic! has an international readership. Hence the question to the Best and Brightest abroad: What is the status of Unintended Acceleration in your country? UA in general. Not just Toyota. Best would be official data, such as in the case of Japan. Please with a link to the source. Absent of any official data, please use the German methodology.

Thank you. Dankeschön. Domo arigatou gozaimasu.

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57 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: Is SUA An American Pandemic?...”

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    So why did Toyota change the plastic used in its European e-pedals (in 2007), and eventually issue a recall due to sticking gas pedals? Did you try “sticky gas pedals” in German? Oh wait; I just remembered; those were mainly for RHD applications. UK, anyone?

    • 0 avatar

      They are doing a huge recall of Toyotas in Europe. 1.8 million in all of Europe. 216.000 In Germany. Sticky pedals. Initiated by the manufacturer. If the manufacturer recalls, the manufacturer recalls. People don’t seem to be too concerned. 4 weeks after the start of the recall, only 12,500 of the 216,000 did come to the shop, says Focus.

      Again, this is not a Toyota story. This is a story about UA not being an issue.

  • avatar

    Correction: the population of Japan, 127 million, is 41% of that of the US, 308 million.

    Very interesting though.

  • avatar

    There are roughly 13 million cars on Australia’s roads, and all the articles I can find about unintended acceleration apply to the USA.

    Our Camrys (and the V6 Aurion ‘variant’) are built locally (with some locally produced and some Japanese-imported parts), and are unaffected by the U.S./European recalls.

    My prejudice (“The average American can’t even drive an automatic, let alone a manual.”) prevents me from commenting further :P.

  • avatar

    most f the toyota problems have been hype and outright lies by the owner especially the lady from Sevierville who testified at capitol hill. it is most likely the atitude that the consumer is is always right, that causes more reports of UA in the USA. though Actual UA does happen sometimes. A minority of the Toyota UA cases are authentic and real but a majority of Toyota and other manufacturer cases of UA are mostly due to ill-informed consumers. I cite Lincoln Town Cars, being number one in UA reports as evidence. Which are mostly driven by the elderly, and chaffeurs.

    • 0 avatar

      And the rest of the data that doesn’t seem to be the elderly and chaffeurs where Toyota is dominant means what exactly?

      Saying that most of the reports are BS is laughable. State Farm, an insurance company that doesn’t care what you drive, reported seeing the issue through their analysis. You will need much more evidence to say that this isn’t a problem or that it is a conspiracy.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m calling baloney on this idea that the elderly are the agents of cause of UA incidents.

      First, there have been so many different brands affected that it’s impossible to narrow it to the “oldster” brands.

      Second, another “oldster” brand, such as Buick, doesn’t have a comparable UA rate when compared to Lincoln.

      Third, it now appears that Ford is a close second to Toyota in incidents per 100K vehicles. Since Ford sells a broad range of cars, I’d guess it to have a broad demographic.

  • avatar

    Bertel, you could be on to something. SUA hysteria rears its head in a land where most folks drive vehicles with automatic transmissions – and – haven’t once downshifted from D to D2 or L.

    The requisite number of cup holders necessary to sell a parlor on wheels in this land we speak of is evidence in itself that the populace has more to do with their time than drive car.

    Also, once the mainstream media beats the drums of fear and hysteria, a large segment of the populace tends to join in.

  • avatar

    “But nothing escapes the Japanese urge for meticulous record keeping”

    that exactly is the difference. In Germany and Japan there is an official case of SUA after it is verified and recorded. In the US, it seems, it can become a news story and congressional hearing as soon as someone (no matter how retarded) says it happened. The same way there are more abductions by aliens reported in the US than the rest of the world.

    It can be, that most actual cases of SUA are related to the floor mat. On older cars without OEM floor mats, but aftermarket floor mats, I had to move them around a lot to not have them interfere with brake or accelerator. Now I have cars that have that little hole with the clip to keep them in place and the OEM mats fit. No more problem, not even with the winter mats (OEM).

    Actually some years ago I remember a case where a Renault driver in France was chased by the Police after driving 200 km/h and then claimed he couldn’t stop (I’m sure it was manual tranny). there has been a big investigation, but no indication of a failure with the car. Sure, accelerator stuck, brakes fail, clutch doesn’t work, hand-brake fails. All at the same time and then once the Police pulled him over it magically all works :-) I guess he should done that in the US, there he could have sued the PD for harassing him and chasing after him and could have made money being on talkshows….

    Even assuming it is some electrons issue, how come none of those “witnesses” could use brake or shift in neutral? I know why, because they are retar… and maybe we can’t blame them, it may be a terrific experience and the memory is bad. I believe most of the “Audi victims”firmly believed they hit the brake. (and some just wanted to sue to get $)

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, I think confirming this would be a problem for most people. In the US, we often drive with one person in the car. If someone says it happens, how are they going to prove it? I understand that the database may have been populated since this story was introduced with some bogus reports. But the database has far more reports for Toyota than any other manufacture. The woman you speak of reported her incident before all of this news broke. How do you explain those? Maybe Mrs. Smith’s account isn’t 100% accurate as to what happened. That doesn’t mean she didn’t experience some problem with the car and that it was largely ignored.

  • avatar

    While there may be a problem with UA with toyotas, it’s possible that the drivers of the cars could be adding to the problem by not reacting properly when it happens. Common sense tells you to pop it in neutral when the pedal sticks.

  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    I think that in the UK , UA usually occurs when an elderly driver buys an automatic , after a lifetime of driving manuals , and gets confused and presses the wrong pedal.

  • avatar

    What we have here is a classic case of comparing apples and oranges.

    Germany and Japan are noted for excellent public transit facilities. I have been to Germany and have watched hours of Bahn TV videos of train rides throughout Germany. And Japan is famous for its Bullet trains and public transit which is widely used. So both coutries are dramatically different from the United Sates in how cars are used, how much they are used and in who uses them.

    According to WikiAnswers Germany has 36 million cars. Japan has 37 million. The United States has 247 million registered vehicles. So the disparity in the numbers is high.

    Not only that, the United States is a big country and people drive more for that reason and the unavailability of public transit, especially old people. I doubt that there are many elderly driving in Germany or Japan because of easy access to public transport. And those who do drive probably drive less and shorter distances.

    UA is clearly a function of the number of cars, the number of drivers and the distance/time spend behind the wheel.

    Countries with such disparate characteristics can not be compared since they are too different.

    The answer to whether UA is an American phenomenon is yes. But if the Germans and Japanese had the population of the U.S., had little public transport, had as many cars and drove as much as Americans UA would show up there also IMO.

    UA is a relatively rare phenomenon and shows up with high car and driver numbers and high vehicle usage.

    The data for Germany and Japan is nonexistant because they are different from the United States. It all makes sense if you think about it.

    • 0 avatar

      +1, the most valid comparisons to the USA would be Canada or Australia, and even that has its problems.

      But that doesn’t go with the “American drivers are idiots” meme and might mean there’s something wrong with Toytoas, which is unpossible! Everybody knows its a witch hunt designed to start a trade war, or something.

    • 0 avatar

      But that doesn’t go with the “American drivers are idiots” meme and might mean there’s something wrong with Toytoas, which is unpossible! Everybody knows its a witch hunt designed to start a trade war, or something.

      Just had a friend who drives a Camry run out of gas today. Even though the gas gauge was glowing red, she said that her husband had just put gas in the car this morning and can’t understand what happened. She figures it is just another “defect” in the car.

      Tell me what I’m supposed to think?

    • 0 avatar

      Excellent post.

    • 0 avatar

      +1 !

    • 0 avatar


      Speaking of apples and oranges:

      Wikianswers is a horrible source for data. About as reliable as user entered reports of UA. Germany doesn’t have 36m registered vehicles, it has 50m. Japan doesn’t have 37m vehicles, it has 79m. As per official statistics, not as per Wikianswers.

      The fact that the USA had 6000 reports for one year, whereas Japan had 134 in 3 years cannot be explained away with platitudes about Japanese bullet trains, the excellent public transport system and people driving less. The reports are orders of magnitude apart.

      Math: 134 / 3 = 45. 56 complaints per 100m cars and year in Japan. 2500 complaints per 100m cars and year in the USA. Probably more, they only counted the 2008 model year – it’s so far apart, it doesn’t matter anymore.

      I will cover this in a later post with as exact data as I can find from as authoritative sources as possible. Prepare yourself to be shocked. On a per capita basis, the USA, Germany and Japan are actually more alike than they are different.

      The only big difference is in transmission usage: The share of automatic transmissions in the USA is said to be 90%, in Japan and Korea 54% and in Europe 18%. Still doesn’t explain the huge disparity.

    • 0 avatar

      Bertel Schmitt in pure Farago tradition:

      “Japan doesn’t have 37m vehicles, it has 79m.”
      “Japan had 134 in 3 years”
      “Math: 134 / 3 = 45. 56 complaints per 100m cars and year in Japan.”

      First of all: 134 / 3 = 44.66… ~ 44.67.
      Then: 134 / 3 ~ 44.67 complaints per 79m cars and year in Japan ~ (44.67 / 79m) * 100m ~ 56.54 complaints per 100m cars and year.

    • 0 avatar

      Ok, I slipped. Does 0.89 complaint more or less per year matter?

      This ain’t apples and oranges. It’s woods for the trees. And self-induced blindness.

    • 0 avatar

      “78.6% of statistics are just made up” – Homer (Simpson)

  • avatar

    Well as more than 90% of cars sold here are MT, SUA is rare. I had it happen to me once in a Fiat Palio 1.6 16v and it was pretty noisy and so, scary, but put it into neutral and the car continued accelerating to red line, then went to almost 0 rpm, then again to red line. Shut it offm Turned it on again, good for another day. Then the other day happened again, took it to a mechanic, changed a sensor, never happened again. And many years ago in a Ford Escort. In that case the throttle was substituted.

    I had a friend who had an old VW Beetle. The throttle would stick all the time. It happened so often she became adept at pulling out the old throttle and putting a new one in.

    Only in some imported Volvos were there ever mention of this phenomenom. Something in the local papers, but then it died. And a number of cases in Toyota cars after the subject came up in NA.

    So apparently very rare down here.

  • avatar

    In the US there is something to be gained by deflecting blame to others, especially if you can blame a huge corporation..

  • avatar

    This whole SUA “crisis” reminds me of another media-induced frenzy: Not too long ago, people had their wallets and purses stolen; today, they’re “victims of identity theft.”

    • 0 avatar

      This whole SUA “crisis” reminds me of another media-induced frenzy

      This is what the mass media does. Or rather, it’s part of what the MM does. They make their money selling eyeballs to advertisers, but they do that by selling fear and self-righteousness** to viewers.

      It’s very, very hard to garner millions of eyeballs selling mechanical engineering, climate science or sociopolitical debate—you just can’t get a breadth of audience with that kind of depth—so what the media does is push a kind of “News Light”: (“Twice the emotional appeal, but half the facts!”).

      So instead of questions like:
      * Does the pedal shim address the cause, or was the issue likely pedal entrapment?
      * Is AGCC’s primary concern simply temperature change, or ought we to be concerned more strongly about the resulting ocean acidification?
      * What, exactly, does the Hussien regime’s actions mean within the context of regional stability in the middle East?
      …we get:
      * God Stopped My Camry!
      * Global Warming!
      * OMG WMDs!

      I’m of the opinion that Media Studies really ought to be taught as a compulsory course, and given as much importance as Literature or Mathematics. It’s important to know why you’re being told to be afraid or angry or self-rightous, and what the motivations of those people doing the telling are, especially if you want to avoid turning into the kind of person*** who is too afraid to leave their house for fear they’ll get mugged.

      ** watched the Olympic coverage recently?
      *** my grandmother was like this towards the end of her life, and it’s because a) her English wasn’t good and b) she watched waaaaay to much bad News.

    • 0 avatar

      +1 psarhjinian

      I don’t watch the news. I was recently told that I was “clueless” on the Toyota SUA issue because of that “poor lady crying on TV” who was a “victim” of a “foreign plot to take down US car companies”.

      Don’t ask me to explain it.

    • 0 avatar

      Great post psarhjinian

      I was feeling too tired to type up the required long response to some of the commentary here — it being 2:30am — but here you said much of it, about the selling of fear and self-righteousness, and the ensuing hysteria. I second your motion for compulsory Media Studies classes.

      The next step in this analysis is where it hurts for most Americans:

      So the mass media is doing all the things you list, for the reason you point-out: bringing eyeballs to advertisers. Who can fault them for that? It is a business after all, and they’re doing what’s necessary to maximize profits “shareholder value”. Okay. Herein lies the foundational cause of many of American society’s ills: the USA runs its society like a business, knowing and using only business rules. Problem is, we don’t live out our lives in a business, we live in a society. A business is one member of that society, but is not The society. As one builds upon this basic building block, or alternatively, if one drills down from the various problem-of-the-day in the USA, one finds a direct link.

      I’d build up this linkage, but as I said, it’s 2:30 in the morning, I’m going to hit the sack now.

  • avatar

    It’s kinda nice to see the tables turning, though. It’s normally the domestic automakers that get picked on.

    • 0 avatar








      [insert body part].



      Or the Domus (house) you live in.

      So let’s stop this kneejerk “defend the domestics” reaction, and all the other Us-vs.-Them garbage politicians feed us.

  • avatar

    I personally witnessed one case, but that was back in the 90’s, and it was a cable clutch car (still automatic). Unfortunately, since it was a parking incident, it didn’t make the news.

    There are a scant few cases that make the Asian message boards or press… I think one of the reasons we don’t get high profile ones is the typical driving speeds in this region are much lower than in the US, and incidents involving low speed collisions are not as newsworthy as the odd drunken 100 mph slam-into-a-pole ones.

    Especially considering how common low speed collisions are on crowded Asian streets.

    How about doing a search for “runaway car”?

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    To the best of my knowledge, Germans have  a fairly thorough driver’s license educational program that includes some basic understanding of how a car works. Furthermore, I bet that all or most Germans learn to drive with a stick shift. Undoubtedly, they have an understanding of what “neutral” gear is, and how it works.
    If I went to to the mall and started asking drivers if they understood what the “N” on their gear selector means and how it works, I bet a fairly high percentage may well not know. Who ever uses NEUTRAL for any typical US driving purpose?
    This may be an area where our lax driver’s ed/licensing programs really do make a difference.

    • 0 avatar

      Rather than speculate why don’t you deal in Facts? Go to your local high school and ask the drivers ed teacher what they teach. You could use the content, recalls are getting worn out.

    • 0 avatar

      I took my driving education at a private facility that was better than my high schools. I don’t recall them teaching what to do if the car keeps accelerating, but I do recall them teaching what to do if your car stopped running while you were on the road. Put it in neutral, and try to restart.

      I asked my wife what she would do if this happened to her. Putting it into neutral wasn’t on her list of things to try. I suggested it and she asked if that would be ok to do when the car was moving. I agree, we don’t do a good job of teaching people to drive here in the US, which might explain the issue here, along with a lack of stick shifts. I guess it takes a defect like this to show a lack of training. It is interesting that the CHP officer either didn’t try neutral or couldn’t get the car into it.

    • 0 avatar

      Driver’s education is only as good as how fresh it is in your memory, Paul. I remember definitions of all the gears being discussed in detail when I was in driver’s ed, but that was almost thirty years ago.

      Does any country force drivers to attend recurrent driver’s ed (at this most basic level) as part of license renewal?

      I think 97escort’s post about the vast difference in the number of passenger cars and the average annual use between countries explains the difference, if there is one. Comparing different reporting systems and reporting requirements is pretty apples and oranges, too.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Anyone that has learned and mastered driving a stick shift will always understand what a neutral gear does. That may well not be the case with many folks who learn to only drive an automatic. This issue is what I’m getting at,and is more important than the driver ed issue.
      I’m not saying there’s an easy solution; I’m trying to explain why Germans may not be experiencing UA.

    • 0 avatar

      actually, the only time I used neutral in driving an automatic, was when I was teaching my brothers and sisters to drive, and explained to them all the different gears, though I didn’t tell them about how it could be used in case of UA.

  • avatar

    Whenever I rent a car, I keep my hand on the shifter out of habit and often compulsively fidget with it.

    Is that just me, or do any other standard shift drivers have a compulsion to stay closely involved with the shifting of a slushbox?

    • 0 avatar

      I do the same in a rental. I downshift the transmission when slowing down and slap the shifter into N at a red light.

    • 0 avatar

      I shift manually in rentals, and even heel-toe on downshifts!

    • 0 avatar

      +1! Shifting into neutral to coast is definite, and sometimes downshifting…

    • 0 avatar

      And I thought I was the only one who did this but whenever I drive an auto I shift it up and down and pop it into neutral at stop lights to break the disconnect I feel when driving a slush box.
      It’s too easy to put it into ‘D’ and just drive, and after 20 years of owning manuals I cannot do this.
      BTW I’m not arguing owning a manual makes you a better driver,but the connection between you and the car is indisputable.
      To me the knowledge of having direct input with the drive train – right or wrong – is reassuring.
      It’s getting difficult to find a newer car with a manual and I’m watching the rise of the CVT with growing alarm.

  • avatar

    With a cold engine(fast idle), A.T. , ice slick roads, you soon learn to use nuetral or sail through that first intersection. My wife is very good at using nuetral.

  • avatar

    How difficult would it be for high schools to teach how to use a stick? I don’t understand why it’s not done as a standard part of Driver’s Ed.

    I mean it can even be a safety issue if you don’t know how to drive a stick: ex. your friend has too much to drink, and you’re in better shape to drive, but his car is a stick and you don’t know how to drive one.

    • 0 avatar
      Mirko Reinhardt

      I don’t understand why there is driver’s ed on automatic transmission cars at all. If you learn on a MT, it’ll be easy to learn driving a slushbox. The other way around, not so much.
      Except for people with severe medical conditions (missing or less than fully operational arms/legs), everybody should learn driving on a stick. Or use public transport.

  • avatar
    Dr Strangelove

    Now that’s an easy one. There is no speed limit in Germany, therefore, acceleration simply never is a problem.

  • avatar

    In most places the really ignorant lower demographics take the bus and the class action lawyers don’t get to file free lottery tickets.

  • avatar
    George B

    I blame “Pedal Misapplication” and companies like WeatherTech. Mostly driver error, but it’s probably much easier to get UA when thick aftermarket floor mats are installed, unsecured, on top of OEM floor mats.

    Is UA more common in the snow belt? Winter floor mats are about as rare as snow tires here in Texas, but I could see their use in areas where heavy snow is common. Similarly, road salt greatly increases metal corrosion problems.

    I have several friends who have had mechanical problems cause the throttle to stick open on old cars, but the only throttle-by-wire problems I’ve heard of from friends are either very aggressive throttle tip-in or unexpected throttle delay. My very limited anecdotal evidence suggests new cars have much less trouble with UA than old mechanical linkage/carburetor cars.

  • avatar

    Interesting point – hopefully someone does a more sophisticated analysis. For example, what % of UA vehicles are automatics? How many such vehicles are there in the US, and how many are there in other countries? At the US rate, how many UA events would you expect to appear in other countries?

    Repeat with elderly drivers, floormats, age of vehicle, maintenance levels, …

  • avatar

    This article is an interesting unscientific distraction from the Toyota mess and will be worth revisiting when the Toyota UA books get written.

  • avatar

    Baldheadeddork has been banned for repeated violation of the TTAC commenting policy, as outlined at

    To repeat: “No flaming the website, its authors or fellow commentators.”

    We have been a bit lenient in enforcing this policy recently, hoping for a more diverse discourse. However, the leniency has been misinterpreted.

    If anyone wants to test our resolve, please go ahead.

    A discussion of this measure is not desired.

  • avatar

    It doesn’t really matter what the cause is. The brakes MUST overcome the engine even if the driver pumps the brakes. This means that for most cars, if the brakes are applied, the engine controller MUST idle the engine in order to preserve vacuum brake boost.

  • avatar

    Wow! Can’t believe “I” inspired an entry on here. That’s pretty cool. To add my own two cents, I’ve never experienced SUA in my 31 years and 620,000 miles of driving many vehicles of varying quality, mechanical condition, and country of manufacture. There were many differences in the shape and position of the pedals such as going from a VW with the small brake and clutch pedals to a pickup truck with the rectangular brake pedal, but I never got them mixed up.

    That’s another thought…do rental cars have higher reported rates of SUA than privately owned models of that vehicle due to driver unfamiliarity with that car? Should rental agencies take greater care to transition a driver (especially if they’re elderly or appear clueless) to a vehicle than just handing them the keys and the paperwork?

    Does Toyota have a problem? Maybe. My 2000 Toyota Celica was a shitbox of rattles & oil consumption that was traded after 42,000 miles. I won’t buy another Toyota. But I think 90% of the problem lies with my country’s poor driver training, confused elderly drivers (which is only going to become worse by the way as the Boomers keep aging) doing their thing, media hype, greed, and an increasing lack of involvement with the actual act of driving down the road. Me? I still prefer a small car with a stick.

  • avatar

    Second attempt at replying. I guess the system doesn’t like Kanji….

    The “denai” seemed strange to me as “dehanai” is what I would use based on what I learned in school. So, instead, I searched google for ITOTEKI and KASOKU (caps for Kanji, space between the terms).

    Most of the hits I got related to the Toyota case are “ITO senu KASOKU” (lower case is Hiragana, of course no spacing in the Japanese)

    Also, searching the Japanese wikipedia for KASOKU did yield an article about Toyota’s current recall.

    As for the case of “there’s a recall if the manufacturer does one,” how does Germany react in the case of corporate cover up? In past instances of Toyota misconduct (e.g. overwork of employees), the Japanese government hasn’t done much more than mildly scold or slap on the wrist. In the Mitsubishi brake problem case, they were a rougher, and some Mitsubishi folks were shamed. But there still wasn’t a frenzy like Toyota has been here.

    Of course, attention spans seem to shorten by the minute and people are becoming more and more desensitized, distracted, etc. so the media makes it more of a circus to get those eyeballs.

    Sub-standard reporting might also be tied to declining education standards, but that’s a topic for a different web site.

    Btw, loved the “Frau Schmitto-San” bit

    • 0 avatar

      Upon further googling, I can’t really get any hits that aren’t part of the mess. I did find a Japanese translation of a 2004 article at However, the UA incident mentioned took place in the States.

      One other thought, what are the chances that non-Americans simply don’t raise a fuss if the problem doesn’t repeat?

  • avatar

    Can you imagine if we did favor manuals in the US? You would have people trying to drink their latte, munch on their bagel, apply make-up, and yes despite it being illegal to do so in most states: talk on their cell phone…all while steering and shifting, working the pedals…

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  • mopar4wd: Even if it did take F-150 customers those customers aren’t buying the 21K version their getting it...
  • 28-Cars-Later: Oh I think you and I just became best friends.

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  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber