The Shakedown Continues: Toyota Could Cough Up Another $16.4 Mil Over 6 Year Old Truck

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Talk about timing: While Trans Sec LaHood was in Japan yesterday, ostensibly to look a trainsets, while he toured Toyota instead and uttered dark “time will tell” threats, while he said that his people are still working on the evidence for a second $16.4m federal fine, back in Washington, the timer was set for yet another ticking 16.4 mega-tonne bomb.

The DOT said Monday it will launch an investigation into whether Toyota Motor Corp. waited too long before recalling its T100 pickup truck in the U.S. , reports The Nikkei [sub]. The 6 year old case could cost Toyota the third $16.4m fine. Soon, we’ll be talking about real money.

The allegations: In 2004, Toyota recalled the truck, known as Hilux Surf, in Japan. Steering rods were subject to fatigue, cracks and breaks. In the U.S., the truck wasn’t recalled. Toyota said it was an issue isolated to trucks sold in Japan. A year later, the truck was recalled in the U.S.

Now, NHTSA said Monday that Toyota may have received similar complaints about the T100 truck from U.S. customers in 2004.

Under the TREAD act, NHTSA must be informed about defects within five business days after learning about them. Says The Nikkei: “If the latest probe determines Toyota broke this rule in 2004, the Japanese automaker is likely to be penalized with a new fine.”

It is unclear whether the third fine was mentioned yesterday during the meeting. The second was. Apart from that, LaHood said he and Akio Toyoda had a “candid, frank and serious discussion.” Which is diplomatic double-speak for yelling at each other.

When the U.S. threatened new sanctions against North Korea back in 2003, the talks were “positive, frank and candid.” That was one step below “candid, frank and serious.”

Toyota was the first manufacturer to be hit with the maximum penalty. Assuming non-discriminatorial treatment, other auto maker better start building reserves in case the serial fines set a precedent.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Mikey Mikey on May 11, 2010

    Similar to most criminals/con men, Toyotas most serious mistake,was being caught.

    • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on May 11, 2010

      Non-complince is a slippery-slope ... What works well at a very subtle level, becomes the temptation to expand and deepen the behaviour (often on a sub-liminal level) in order to get the same result (here non-recall w/o penalty), problem is that over-time, the practice a) expands/deepens among the few who practice it, and b) it has a corrosive effect on the rest of the organization as it moves from a smaller practice to an instutionalized one. In some cases as the mind-set takes hold, the act of non-compliance expands outside the original functional area to infect the mind-set of other parts of the organization.

  • Odomeater Odomeater on May 11, 2010

    I'm sure they profited far more than the fine while knowingly selling dangerous and inferior products to the consumer. So, pay up and stop bitchin.

  • NJRide So this is an average age of car to be junked now and of course this is a lower end (and now semi-orphaned) product. But street examples seem to still be worth 2500? So are cars getting junked only coming in because of a traumatic repair? If not it seems a lot of cars being junked that would still possibly worth more than scrap.Also Murilee I remember your Taurus article way back what is the king of the junkyard in 2024?
  • AMcA I applaud Toyota for getting away from the TRD performance name. TuRD. This is another great example of "if they'd just thought to preview the name with a 13 year old boy."
  • Jeff Does this really surprise anyone? How about the shoes and the clothes you wear. Anything you can think of that is either directly made in China or has components made in China likely has some slave labor involved. The very smart phone, tablet, and laptop you are using probably has some component in it that is either mined or made by slave labor. Not endorsing slave labor just trying to be real.
  • Jeff Self-driving is still a far ways from being perfected. I would say at the present time if my car took over if I had a bad day I would have a much worse day. Would be better to get an Uber
  • 2manyvettes Time for me to take my 79 Corvette coupe out of the garage and drive if to foil the forces of evil. As long as I can get the 8 track player working...
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