By on February 1, 2010

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Matt Lauer turns the screws on Toyota’s Jim Lentz, who responds to conspiracy claims by saying that his family, friends and neighbors drive Toyotas. “I would not have them in products that I knew were not safe,” he says, although he does acknowledge that rapid growth could have played a role in a general decline in quality.

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11 Comments on “Toyota’s Jim Lentz On Today Show: No Conspiracy, New Parts Shipping Today...”

  • avatar

    Toyota has, at the very least, demonstrated extreme bad faith regarding this issue (as well as many others), as they knew of this problem many years ago, yet did nothing until the latest batch of accidents (and media coverage).

    “Toyota found to keep tight lid on potential safety problems –
    A Times investigation shows the world’s largest automaker has delayed recalls and attempted to blame human error in cases where owners claimed vehicle defects.”,0,5601716.story?track=rss

    “During a routine test on its Sienna minivan in April 2003, Toyota Motor Corp. engineers discovered that a plastic panel could come loose and cause the gas pedal to stick, potentially making the vehicle accelerate out of control.

    The automaker redesigned the part and by that June every 2004 model year Sienna off the assembly line came with the new panel. Toyota did not notify tens of thousands of people who had already bought vans with the old panel, however.

    It wasn’t until U.S. safety officials opened an investigation last year that Toyota acknowledged in a letter to regulators that the part could come loose and “lead to unwanted or sudden acceleration.”

    In January, nearly six years after discovering the potential hazard, the automaker recalled 26,501 vans made with the old panel.


    The automaker knew of a dangerous steering defect in vehicles including the 4Runner sport utility vehicle for years before issuing a recall in Japan in 2004. But it told regulators no recall was necessary in the U.S., despite having received dozens of complaints from drivers. Toyota said a subsequent investigation led it to order a U.S. recall in 2005.

    Toyota has paid cash settlements to people who say their vehicles have raced out of control, sometimes causing serious accidents, according to consumers and their attorneys. Other motorists who complained of acceleration problems with their vehicles have received buybacks under lemon laws.

    Although the sudden acceleration issue erupted publicly only in recent months, it has been festering for nearly a decade. A computerized search of NHTSA records by The Times has found Toyota issued eight previous recalls related to unintended acceleration since 2000, more than any other automaker.

    A former Toyota lawyer who handled safety litigation has sued the automaker, accusing it of engaging in a “calculated conspiracy to prevent the disclosure of damaging evidence” as part of a scheme to “prevent evidence of its vehicles’ structural shortcomings from becoming known” to plaintiffs lawyers, courts, NHTSA and the public.”

  • avatar

    Mr Lentz seems sincere enough. He comes across as a guy doing the job that Toyota pays him to do.

    One comment so far? Hmmmmmmmm Suppose it was Bob Lutz or Susan Docherty doing thier job,defending the company that signs thier paychecks.

    Reaction might take on a whole different tone eh?

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know about that mikey. It seems there’s been plenty of scorn directed in Toyota’s direction by the B&B.

    • 0 avatar

      Jim Lentz is one of the most honest and sincere men I have ever had the pleasure to know. I am one of the neighbors he is speaking of and I DO drive a Toyota and do not have a fear that this problem will be fixed.

      I trust Jim and his companies word 100%, not only because of the reliability of the company as an automaker, but because of his honestly and the integrity I see in him as a human being.

      While other automakers and their CEOs were flying private jets to Washington to deal with their issues on Wall Street, Mr. Lentz was out front in his yard mowing his own lawn and doing his own yardwork. He is a grounded, family-oriented man who is a credited source of information and can be proven to not be monitarily oriented in the responses he provided here.

  • avatar

    Toyota and Tylenol: Consider the parallel. Both brands have suffered untold damage thanks to a widely publicized recall to remedy a life-threatening defect;and both are designed to effectively dull sensation.

    • 0 avatar

      Except the fact that the Tylenol poisonings had nothing to do with the drug itself: someone had poisoned a few select bottles at the store. And because Johnson & Johnson’s management immediately went into action to control the problem (they were heavilly praised for how they managed the situation), Tylenol emerged completely unscathed aside from a short drop in sales. (Sales picked back up quickly when it was discovered that the poisonings were done by an outside source, and they introduced new tamper proof packaging)

      Toyota is in an entirely different ball game because there IS something wrong with Toyota’s cars that is causing the problem. Plus, Toyota’s management was caught with their pants down because they were expecting that they could just keep a lid on this (like they had been doing for how many years), and only jumped into action when they found the unattended acceleration claims to become a worldwide catastrophe. Even then, their remedies are more-or-less band-aids over the actual, big problem, which I personally believe is a bug in the cars computer that makes the engine think the accelerator is being depressed, even when it isn’t.

  • avatar

    “he says, although he does acknowledge that rapid growth could have played a role in a general decline in quality.”

    You are completely right about that. That was the biggest problem with Katsuaki Watanabe: he completely abandoned Toyota’s regular business plan of slow and steady growth by building quality products in favor of chasing market share. He had his eyes set on making Toyota the biggest, and he didn’t seem to care what price he would have to pay to get it there.

  • avatar

    I would hate to be a sales guy in a Toyota store right about now… It will be a skinny month, me thinks. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t want to be one of their service guys right now either!

  • avatar
    Telegraph Road

    “he says, although he does acknowledge that rapid growth could have played a role in a general decline in quality.”

    This is the latest simplistic meme to overwhelm thoughtful analysis in the auto industry. I am no fan of Toyota (obviously). Many want to reduce this problem to a moral tale of a company reaching too high. But the fault likely lies deep in the specs or execution of an auto component, comprehensible only to trained engineers.

  • avatar

    “The truth about the engine control module”

    We know what is going on here.

    Remember, Ford and the “let them burn case”.

    There are plots and conspiracies hatching everywhere.

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