By on February 17, 2010

5pm in Tokyo. Toyota has a news conference. Somehow, they forgot to invite me. And I’m right here, in Tokyo. From our Ota-ku apartment, the fallout from the conference as it is reported in  Japanese and international media. Call it vicarious live blogging.

Brake override becomes standard: Reuters has it that Toyota will add a brake-override system, which cuts engine power when the accelerator and brake pedals are applied at the same time, to all future vehicles worldwide. Kyodo confirms the story. Toyota “is also considering installing the system in vehicles that have already been sold,” writes the Nikkei [sub].

Power steering of the Corolla possibly next: And the next possible victim is the world’s bestselling car. Toyota’s executive on quality control says the automaker is looking into possible power-steering problems with the Corolla. He said Toyota is considering a recall, but no decision has been made. Toyota is still looking into the complaints in the U.S., which are fewer than 100.  CNBC has the story.

Fix found: Toyoda said they have found a fix for the braking issues in the Toyota Sai and Lexus HS 250h and are beginning to notify owners about recall procedures, says CCN.

Won’t head for the hill: Koyodo News says that President Akio Toyoda indicated that he is unlikely to testify before a U.S. congressional committee to address quality issues raised by a recent series of massive global recalls of its vehicles. His visit to the U.S. has not even been scheduled yet, says the Nikkei [sub]. Toyoda thinks his people will do a better job. “His senior executives have his highest trust,” reports AFP.

More committees: The Nikkei also says that Toyota will establish a global task force headed by company president Akio Toyoda to improve quality control.  The first meeting will be on March 30. Toyota will appoint a chief quality officer for each principal geographical region to make the company more alert to customer sentiment.

Growing pains: Toyoda his company may have grown too fast, neglecting the careful training of staff to ensure that quality does not fall behind, reports Reuters. (Did Toyoda clear that with Legal?) “Up to now, we had been saying that the rapid expansion was in response to customer needs — that it was inevitable. The basic rule of the Toyota Production System is to only build as many cars as there is demand for, and we ourselves broke that rule.”  Toyoda said some of the sales during the rapid expansion over the last decade may have been driven artificially by sales financing, and was not based on “real demand”.

Black box becoming universal: Deeply buried in the press release (following) is the news that Toyota “will more actively use on-board event data recorders, which can, in the event of a malfunction, provide information necessary for conducting such activities as technological investigations and repairs.” The LA Times says it more succinctly: “New vehicles will also include an improved on-board event data recorder, a kind of “black box” for Toyota vehicles.” So far, Event Data Recorders, or EDRs, are built into some cars, including some Toyotas. NHTSA has released a standard for the black box, but hasn’t made it mandatory. It is supposed to become mandatory by 2012.  The Lexus in the famous Saylor case had an EDR. The 911 call was all over the news. The EDR data were not: The black box did not survive either. At least that’s what Toyota says.

Sales plummet: Toyota sales have dropped 16 percent since the third week of January, reports the LA Times. To reduce the mounting inventory of Toyota vehicles, many of which have been sitting in dealers’ lots following the recalls, the company plans to temporarily suspend manufacturing operations at two U.S. plants.

Official version of the press conference: Press release, accompanying the conference:

TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) announces that, at a press conference in Tokyo today on quality-related matters, it disclosed the following:

– Japan-market recall progress –

The company has completed preparations for recall repair for the Toyota “Sai” and Lexus “HS250h”, and its dealers began notifying owners today about the recall procedures.

– Electronic throttle control technology safety –

TMC’s electronic throttle-control system incorporates overlapping failsafe features linked to several sensors. The occurrence of a problem causes the system to shift the engine to idling mode or even to shut it off. TMC has conducted rigorous testing under extremes of electromagnetic interference, vibration and other adverse conditions. That testing has conclusively verified that the system cannot accidentally induce acceleration.

In addition, TMC has commissioned an independent, third-party research organization to test its electronic throttle control system. TMC will release the findings of that testing as they become available.

– Measures for improving product quality –

TMC will appoint a person to the post of chief quality officer for each principal geographical region to make the company more alert to customer sentiment.

Such officers will serve on the company’s newly established Special Committee for Global Quality. That committee, to be headed by TMC’s president, is for steering the company’s quality-improvement activities onto a new and higher plane. The Special Committee for Global Quality will hold its first meeting on March 30.

TMC will ask independent third-party experts to review the contents of that meeting.

In another initiative, TMC is strengthening its framework for conveying customer input from each region directly to its Quality Group and to its Product Development Group to translate that input more promptly into quality improvements in products. The initiative will get under way first in the United States, where TMC will expand its network of technical offices to fine-tune its information-gathering capabilities in an aim to be able to conduct on-site inspections within 24 hours of every reported incident of suspected product malfunction.

TMC will add a brake-override system, which cuts engine power when the accelerator and brake pedals are applied at the same time, to all future vehicle models worldwide.

TMC will more actively use on-board event data recorders, which can, in the event of a malfunction, provide information necessary for conducting such activities as technological investigations and repairs.

TMC, sincerely taking to heart customer feedback gained through genchi genbutsu, reaffirms – along with its dealers worldwide, suppliers and employees – its commitment to unwavering quality in products and services and to the spirit of “customer first”. TMC will continue to endeavor to provide products that are safe and reassuring.

Rem: Our in-house specialist on Japanese cultural affairs had similar problems with the untranslated “genchi genbutsu.” She reports that Toyota and Honda use the slogan, and that it means, “kind of, well, hard to tlansrate, I give up.” Then she produced a whole encyclopedia of Kaizen terminology. Kindly look it up there.

The encyclopedia of Toyotanese is required reading. Apparently, Toyota’s andon malfunctioned, leading to a deviation from the arubekisugata, the jidouka broke down, things went mura, and the whole Toyotaseisan houshiki went haywire. Dozo. There you have it.

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47 Comments on “Toyota’s News Conference In Toyko: Corolla Next, Brake Override Standard Equipment, Toyoda Ducks Congress...”


  • avatar
    baldheadeddork

    Wow.

    I don’t know if there is a good answer for how Toyoda should handle the Congressional investigations, but saying up front he is unlikely to testify definitely makes it worse. Whatever the reason, it is going to fuel the worst suspicions about Toyota’s sense of responsibility to its customers and its attitude towards American regulators and lawmakers.

    The only reason it makes sense to say up front that you’re not going to explain your actions is if, like the most recent scandals about John Edwards and Tiger Woods, you know it’s going to get a lot worse and nothing you can say is going to save your ass. I’m not saying that is what’s happening with Toyoda, but it is the only good reason for him to say what he did.

    About the brake override, a little curious that Reuters is reporting that it will be added to all future vehicles. I thought they said a couple of weeks ago that this was going to be part of the repair for both SUA recalls. Can it be done with software alone? If so, shouldn’t it be incorporated on current vehicles? I hope for their sake this is just a translation problem in the reporting.

    • 0 avatar

      No translation problem. Kyodo says same. The official press release echoes it: “TMC will add a brake-override system, which cuts engine power when the accelerator and brake pedals are applied at the same time, to all future vehicle models worldwide.”

      Which doesn’t say that they won’t add it retroactively – if they can.

    • 0 avatar
      L'avventura

      I don’t know if it would be good idea to necessarily offer them retroactively through a recall. The best thing would be to offer it to any current owner that requests it.

      Also, Toyota needs to learn how to compress their recall announcements together, the Tacoma recall was relatively small, they could have announced it along with a Corolla recall. They need to stop making the news.

      Both the Dana driveshaft was shared with Nissan & Ford, and there is also the Cobalt power-steering issue which has generated 1,132 complaints out of around 905,000 cars (a very high complaint-to-vehicle ratio). It seems that Toyota’s NHTSA investigation to recall timeframe is much shorter then other manufacturers. Either Toyota is being disproportionately targeted and being forced to recall before other legitimate complaints, or its trying to get rid of all potential recalls on its plate.

      If its the latter, they need to time their recalls better, and if its the former, their reactionary response to everything is hurting them. They need to proactively influence some level of control of the situation.

      For instance, if they are going to do a 10-year Hyundai like warranty, do it now, or announce it along with a recall, and do it before the Congressional hearings. If Toyoda doesn’t want to go in front of Congress, he should address the public directly via video before he is forced to; announce the brake override, announce the extended warranty in that video. That way he sets the tone before the demagogues attack.

      Either way, Toyota acting decisively or quickly seems something they are incapable of.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      In order to do the brake override, the computer must have the information to do it. Like the status of the brake pedal. It is not obvious to me that the computer on every version of every car involved knows whether the brakes are applied or not (remember a number of years cover the problem). I know that there is the brake-park transmission interlock – but that may be accomplished with simple hard-wired logic not involving the computer. Adding an “input” to the computer might be difficult to do – one does not just run a wire from the brake switch to the computer. Flashing of the software once the proper inputs are available is very doable.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      It’s a little bit more complicated than that.

      The system has to make decisions with in a box bounded by the throttle position extremes (near idle to wide-open) and brake pedal extremes (riding, or tapping the brakes, to full-depression of the pedal, and may have to also include pressure-rise).

      If the vehicle is running CAN-BUS, or similar, and has an EBF system (to detect panic stops) then there should be adequate inputs available for the system.

      The challenge is to make sure the car clearly recognizes that a person is trying to stop the car when the engine is trying to make power, and to not confuse this with and inappropriatey react to other possible modes (e.g. like two-footed driving style).

      This assumes, of course, that the chip is reflashable and sufficient extra memory allocated for future additional code.

      Don’t laugh, I know of two cars developed on a common platform, by two different brands, where the 1st brand believed code-updates were unavoidable and so used a flashable prom, the 2nd brand laughed at the 1st brand for lacking in confidence and competence, and didn’t believe such cautiousness, or spendthrift extra cost, to be necessary and so did not use a flashable prom (which OEM do you think ran into trouble later when they found a fault in their code??)

    • 0 avatar
      YotaCarFan

      The brake override firmware update will be applied retroactively to the Lexus ES350s, the kind of car in the famous Saylor accident. It’s done as part of the gas pedal pruning and floor mat recall. I just got my recall notice for this a week ago.

      Cars that have EBA (emergency brake assist, which automatically fully applies brakes if the computer thinks the driver is making a panic stop but isn’t pushing the pedal hard enough) would have proper data inputs to the computer to handle the brake override feature. This is only on Toyotas with the traction/skid control feature. I don’t know whether unequipped models have brake signal feeds to the ECM.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Folks; the brake override reflash IS part of the recall, as we reported here:
      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/toyota-recall-includes-computer-reflash-trimming-gas-pedals/
      And some current/recent new Toyotas already came with this update from the factory.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      OK.
      But it is not obvious to me that brake-override can be done to a 2005 Avalon (which is part of the recall). A 2005 Avalon may not have the wiring or room in the flash memory. They’re not making 2005 Avalons in a factory anymore. It may require extensive retrofitting. To put a signal on the CAN-bus requires some electronic module to send the signal on the wiring. Getting more flash memory might be a big deal. You can’t always just plug in 64Mb part in place of a 32Mb part.
      If they can do it, great.

    • 0 avatar
      baldheadeddork

      Update on how Toyota brake override is going to work, courtesy of Jalopnik:

      We recently spoke with Bryan Lyons, Toyota’s communications representative for matters related to safety and reliability. He gave us the skinny on performance driving under Toyota’s latest electronic nanny. According to Lyons, brake override is still in the development and validation process, but in its current state, it will allow for hoonage in almost any scenario. The software works by monitoring the brake-and-throttle dance — essentially judging pedal position down to the millimeter — and making a judgement call as to whether or not something is wrong. If the car decides that the driver has two left feet, it drops engine speed to idle and waits for a change in pedal position. There is a timed delay in the cutoff to account for steep hill take-offs and the like.

      It looks like retrofitting is going to be dependent on having a brake pedal position sensor and (as tced noted) fitting the new programming into the available memory. If you don’t have both, you’re going to be stuck with zip-tying the floor mats and cramming shims into the pedal.

      Story on Jalop: http://jalopnik.com/5473971/toyotas-brake-recall-a-danger-to-enthusiasts

    • 0 avatar

      Brake override was also part of the floormat overhaul. And for the record, we complained about the death of the autobox burnout as a result of this nonsense back in November… not that Toyota owners will ever notice, let alone care.

  • avatar
    john.fritz

    Does Da man ever smile?

    Every picture I’ve seen of him looks like he has weights hanging from the corners of his mouth. He must be one sad dude. Or pissed off maybe.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh, we have pictures where he grins. But they are a bit dated.

    • 0 avatar
      rpol35

      It’s probably because he figures the only way this thing will end is on the business end of a sword.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Dude doesn’t have much to smile about just now.

      That said, one should be aware, that the japanese are very subtle people and often when speaking in a (especially in a “difficult, difficult, said w/a sucking through teeth noise”) situation they employ a type of euphemistic “code-talking” which doesn’t always come exactly to the point (in a western sense), and requires a corresponding expression or facial and/or body language not commonly used in the West; so they seemingly (to Western eyes) “over-emote” to make sure that the observer catches the drift (but to Japanese eyes this is like a corresponding carrier-wave for the verbal message).

      This is how I always viewed the situaion during my times in Japan.

      (Hi Bertel, Please feel free to have your consultant provide her (“gentle, gentle”) feedback (“not critiques, criticism, or corrections”) to my gaijin commentary (“arigato gasai-mas”).

    • 0 avatar

      Both of us confirm the “muzukasi desu ne” (this is difficult.)

      With or without the sucking sound, it means “no.”

      The sucking sound may be added for a gaijin for added emphasis.

  • avatar
    aamj50

    I don’t blame him for not wanting to go before congress. All of those high profile congressional commitee meetings turn in to grandstanding sessions for the congresspersons. It would be a waste of time and would only serve to worsen Toyota’s public relations problems.

    • 0 avatar
      1996MEdition

      “All of those high profile congressional commitee meetings turn in to grandstanding sessions for the congresspersons.”

      Remember jet-gate? I would have gained so much respect for whoever of the big three would have had the nuts to tell congress where to stick it when asked the jet question. Mullaly should have done it and walked out….I’d have gone out and bought a Ford that very day….one can only dream….

    • 0 avatar
      rmwill

      Not showing up at all is worse. All he needs to do is a quick monologue, and turn it over to the American guys like Lentz.

      Toyoda needs to “take his medicine” like the other auto execs. Otherwise he will keep getting beat up in Washington and in the media.

      I tell my wife when she is digging a hole for herself… Put down the shovel. Seems Mr Toyoda needs to put his down also.

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      No, Toyota doesn’t need to “take his medicine”, because he doesn’t have his hand out begging for cash, as all of the Detroit 3 subsidiaries of Government Motors are doing right now.

      When you’re groveling, you have to grovel. When you’re not groveling, you don’t have to grovel.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      @aamj50: I see it differently. I think that his sending the troops to Washington, but not appearing himself, will be seen as cowardly.

      Even though the problems he is confronted with began on the watch of his predecessor, how to solve them is totally his responsibility.

      His failure to “man-up” and act as the tip of the spear here may very well be portrayed as his failure to take personal responsibility for the company he now heads. And if so, it will just add a new reason for him to be bashed in the press, and will likely confirm to some that Toyota Corp. has not changed from a culture and history of obfuscation and obstruction.

      Bertel,

      In my (relative to you) junior spin-doc activities, I never had to deal with a disaster of such proportions. But when we had high-level recall-related meetings with our OEM customer, the customer was confused (by our reputation and history we were thought incapable of such mistakes) and angry (for our hurting their product’s quality and safety reputation).

      In such cases, I had the CEO front and center, properly briefed to take responsibility and show contrition, for our contribution to the mess, while I handled the detail statements, or respectfully pushed-back when unfair statements were made.

      We bent-over backwards to clearly demonstrate that we were filled with regret, we would totally accept our share of responsibility (but, if applicable, not theirs), we were diligently working on a solution, and we had learned a great lesson.

      But the flag-carrier (the CEO) had to be there to make it authentic. The CEO had to accept his lumps because otherwise the confusion may be cleared-up by the spin-docs and operatives, but the anger and a lingering suspicion remain.

      I think Toyoda must go to Washington and take his heat.

      I think Toyota Corp. is still addressing the problems in the wrong way. To wit: Quality Organization kick-off by end of March? That should have been done already … preliminary findings and actions should have been able to be part of the presentation in D.C., the organization could be improved later, but it should NOT wait until After the D.C. meetings.

      The gold-standard for quality and reliability and forward-looking seems to have turned into the “gang that couldn’t shoot straight.”

      What say you?

      @crash sled: ToyoDa absolutely needs to grovel. An aloof behaviour and/or the arrogant behaviour you advocate will multiply their distress. One simple maxim applies here: “Don’t fight City Hall unless you know you can win. And when you are ToyoTa, and have made serial f-ups , in product, procedure, communication, recognize that you can’t win, take your lumps, learn, improve, and get back to business.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m saying Toyoda is getting good advice and he’s finally listening to it. You need to have a thick skin and a quick wit to survive the Weber treatment, a.k.a. a congressional hearing.

      Toyoda is not a good witness, as we have seen in past press conferences. He is well advised to leave that job to a professional. It needs someone to come up with a good answer to questions like “Have you finally stopped beating your wife? Yes, or no?”

      I don’t blame him that he won’t go to a public lynching, and I would have advised him not to go.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Mullaly should have done it and walked out….I’d have gone out and bought a Ford that very day….one can only dream….

      He sort of did. He was asked about his and his colleagues salary and said that “He’s ok where he is”.

      Personally, I had more respect for him for that than I did for Nardelli’s dollar-a-year grandstanding (please, the dude got a quarter-billion-dollar kiss-off from Home Depot) and Wagoner’s prevarication and “I got a kid to put through college” nonsense.

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      No, neither Toyoda nor Toyota has any need to grovel, and advice to the contrary is likely coming from the salesman. Toyota is not Government Motors, which historically has both killed us in greater volumes, and tapped our collective wallets in the process.

      Toyoda here appears to be acknowledging that past salesman advice, to increase sales volume, is at the root of their problems today. Quite a stunning admission, and one I intuitively agree with. It is the most important portion of this statement, one the markets are going to be very attentive to, and one I’m sure the TTAC geeks know to be the most critical point going forward, after the hysteria subsides.

      That admission also implies that the salesmen are to be knocked back into their box. A wise move. The Detroit 3 had and yet have the salesmen driving the bus, in large measure. Mullaly and Kuzak and the GM guy are outliers, because the swamps are still full of ne’er-do-well salesmen, willing to forego required longterm change, if they can get away with it.

      Mercury, anyone?

  • avatar
    tedward

    Someone asked this on another thread, and I haven’t seen an answer. Will this apply to future manual transmission Toyota/Lexus models? And, if so, will it apply even when not in gear, making heel/toe impossible? This is a pretty important question as it could relegate the new coupe to permanent also-ran status. It’s not a ridiculous enthusiast question either (can I left foot brake? would be IMO), Toyota is in the process of releasing a manual transmission rear-drive coupe…

    If TTAC ever gets a chance to throw some question Toyota’s way do you think this could make the list?

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      Just to make the question a bit more industry-wide,
      I have a Acura with drive-by-wire with a manual transmission. I have already performed the experiment, pressing the accelerator and brake – the engine continues as usual.
      I would also note, that Acura (Honda) apparently uses a completely different accelerator mechanism. The pedal is floor mounted operating a mechanical cable through the firewall to the “sensor” mounted in the engine compartment.
      I’ll be interested to see if the “Toyota drive-by-wire”-gate spills over to Honda and others.

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      My Tacoma manual’s RPMs stay constant after brake application, as well. I guess we’re doomed.

      Bad enough that the driving-challenged have forced this foolishness onto auto trannies, but it’d be a sin to junk up a manual transmission with this.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      Can’t find the quote but a Honda spokesman specifically said a couple weeks ago that a they don’t plan to implement a throttle override, heel-toeing is safe so far.

      Not that I was any good at that when I did drive a stick…

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      On VW/Audi vehicles that are drive-by-wire, the programming is such that it still allows heel/toe downshifting.

      Basically, if it is seeing an accelerator input, and then it sees the brake switch change state, it cuts engine power. But if the driver is on the brake first, and then it sees accelerator input, it accepts it up to a point. I don’t know if it will allow full load in this condition, but it will allow enough to allow rev-matched downshifts to be done properly.

      The only complaints I’ve heard about this are from rally-driver types who want to be able to set the car’s cornering attitude by intentionally using accelerator and brake at the same time. Can’t do that, the system won’t allow it. But for most normal drivers, it’s not a problem.

  • avatar
    Roxer

    Toyoda not showing up is essentially saying ‘screw off US, stop making a big deal out of this. The rest of the world doesn’t seem to care as much – because it is not a big deal.’ Are any other countries demanding he show up and say Toyota quality is dropping? No. And that is about all he will say anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Mat entrapment and pedal sticking are not simple quality of manufacture issues, they are quality of design issues. Unless these present early and often, they usually fail to influence IQS numbers.

  • avatar
    86er

    In case something does go wrong, several manufacturers, including BMW, Audi, Chrysler and GM, equip some or all of their vehicles with override systems that tell the engine to ignore the accelerator if it’s being pressed at the same time as the brake. Until recently, Toyota did not. In November, it announced override systems will come standard by the end of this year, and will be installed on some recalled vehicles, including Camry and Lexus models

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/02/15/out-of-control/

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    I like the idea of bigger and better EDRs. Diagnosing the circumstances behind problems with the electronic control systems would be vastly improved by hard data to go along with the driver’s subjective account of what happened.

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      Recording and storing driver data IS relatively easy. The electronics and storage are getting cheaper.

      But, data security is difficult. If the the legal (and financial) incentive is there, people will learn to wipe/edit their black boxes to their advantage if they can.

      And I’m not sure this recording is a good thing. I’m have my doubts about the average (brain-dead) insurance or traffic enforcement authority differentiating between
      a) You going 10mph over the limit on a nearly deserted road and
      b) The Moron who hits you by cutting you off by crossing 2 lanes of traffic while blabbing on a phone.

  • avatar
    crash sled

    Yeah, if Toyoda flips off Congress, that just puts him right in line with 90% of the country. Banzai to that, dude.

    I’m thinking the Cali congresscritters are going to overplay their hand here. NUMMI seceding was a big hit to that state, and the Army of the Sacramento will likely be marching on Toyota. That will generally backfire, in any but particularly the current environment.

    I suspect that the brake overide feature could bite the Detroit 3 as much or more than Toyota. I really detest their reference to these cursed black boxes, but you knew it was inevitable. The litigation slot machine is not one a responsible OEM should willingly stick nickels into, especially since Government Motors is now the house.

    Good of the guy to acknowlege that overeager expansion is at root here, and that they ignored their own principles. Refreshingly honest, something unseen here in Detroit. Absolutely unseen and unheard. (Gosh that Lutz is a dashing fellow, isn’t he! And he’s photogenic and smiles a lot, and Lord knows he’s got millions of reasons to smile.)

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    Anyone else seen this yet? I guess, now you have.

    http://onlinejournal.com/artman/publish/article_5573.shtml

  • avatar
    rmwill

    All the anti-GM and Chrysler bailout Tea Party bravado aside, Mr. Toyoda needs to at least do a cameo appearance in front of the Committee.

    Remember, voters hate Congress, but adore their own Congressman. Like it not, they will grandstand and play games, but if Toyota wants to return to their rightful position as an industry leader, they will need to show humility to the inquisitors.

    Toyota telling the Congress to “screw off” further defeats any attempt to put this behind them.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Deeply buried in the press release (following) is the news that Toyota “will more actively use on-board event data recorders, which can, in the event of a malfunction, provide information necessary for conducting such activities as technological investigations and repairs.”

    Oh, that will go over like a lead balloon with the legal community. I would be very, very interested to know if such a modification will end up being retroactive. It doesn’t take much space to log sensor data.

    The trick will be how that technology will be used in the future. We saw a hint of it with the GT-R: abuse your vehicle and we’ll deny you coverage. The next, and very ugly, step will be if this information lands in the hands of the insurance companies. It’s kind of sad that it’s come to this, but it’s also true that the general public, egged on by the legal community, has brought this upon themselves.

    The next, and even uglier, step is an FDR that takes action when the driver does something stupid. You can bet this is coming, too.

    I have to admit a small amount of schadenfreude as to the idea of an FDR. I’ve used similar (in concept) systems in corporate desktop PC deployments and it really helps turn the helpdesk and support teams into real diagnostic tools instead of punching bags. People behave much better when they’re being held accountable.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Aren’t there tax (specifically, revenue recognition) issues when you supply a software update that allows significant new abilities?.

    I’m not an accountant, nor do I play one, but I recall from dealing with them that this is an issue.

    • 0 avatar

      Now there’s a novel idea. Flashes as sales tax generators. Every time Microsoft updates my Windows, 8.875% goes to NYC, and 4% to Albany. Thank GOD I live in China.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Did you really have to remind me of New York’s sales tax regimen? I still wake up screaming, sometimes.

      On a serious note, I don’t think it’s a sales tax issue, as much as it’s an issue of declaring revenue for a feature that you hadn’t yet sold.

    • 0 avatar
      Barry K. Nathan

      AFAIK that accounting rule was changed sometime in 2009. (Try Googling “Apple accounting change;” the rule change particularly affected Apple.)

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Someone at Toyota needs to realize this drip-drip-drip will continue to kill sales and worsen public perception. I applaud Toyoda’s stance, but it is the wrong one. Show up to congress with your plan for ensuring this problem never happens again. Congressional members will grandstand as that’s all they really know how to do well… just reiterate what your plan is to ensure quality and PROTECT AMERICAN MFG JOBS.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Well, I think of Toyoda’s response this way.

    Imagine that, by some miracle, GM had made some decent and right-sized cars that were exported to Japan over a period of years. Then something similar to this Toyota recall situation happened there. The Japanese parliamentary committee in charge of such things holds hearings, and invites Whitacre to testify.

    Do you think he’d go in such a fraught situation with his overwhelming command of the Japanese language? Highly unlikely, he’d do what Bertel suggests and send a clued-in deputy. Plus the US has never ever submitted to any court or quasi-legal body in a foreign country. See International Criminal Court.

    People can correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to recall that one of the Okinawa problems the US Military caused was by not handing over alleged “rapists” and other US serviceman “criminals” to the Japanese authorities for trial, despite the crimes taking place off base. Just go to Wikipedia on Okinawa.

    This has been a sore point for decades, so I wouldn’t be surprised that the Japanese would skate around being seen to kowtow to a summons from a US goverment committee. Naturally, the chief of Toyota’s operations in the US does not have this latitude, which is as it should be.

    • 0 avatar

      There’s no need to torture the Status Of Forces, or the International Criminal Court. Just remember how the German government was informed about GM’s decision to pull out of the Opel deal. And that was under Henderson, who could muster a certain amount of grace, when he tried.

      If Japan would call GM to testify, then Whitacre’s girl would call Hatoyama’s girl. And GM would send a lawyer, along with a power of attorney – in English.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    UPDATE: Japanese govt and press
    attacking Toyota for being stubborn,
    obtuse, arrogant, aloof and clumsy.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/280812;_ylt=AoTjx0cFqNkfAsxSVYHrbqes0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNiazZvYjU3BGFzc2V0A2NzbS8yMDEwMDIxNy8yODA4MTIEY2NvZGUDbW9zdHBvcHVsYXIEY3BvcwM1BHBvcwMyBHB0A2hvbWVfY29rZQRzZWMDeW5faGVhZGxpbmVfbGlzdARzbGsDaG93amFwYW52aWV3

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