Does Toyota Really Spend One Million Dollars Per Hour On Safety?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Like GM’s infamous “payback” commercial, this Toyota ad walks right up to the point of a big lie, allowing the viewer to believe something while they’re actually being told something subtly different. Toyota never says “we spend a million dollars every hour on safety-related technology,” but they sure make you want to believe it. In reality, the “million dollars every hour” represents Toyota’s global R&D budget, some undisclosed portion of which is spent on safety-related technology. Toyota’s explanation of this intentionally confusing claim, after the jump.

Toyota gave the following response to the NY Times‘ request for clarification

Sona Iliffe-Moon, a Toyota spokeswoman, declined to estimate the proportion devoted specifically to safety.

“The $1 million figure represents Toyota’s R&D spending on new technology and safety, much of it allocated to quality and safety features,” she said. “A specific amount would be nearly impossible to estimate as nearly every component of our vehicles is designed with safety in mind, including steering, brakes, seats, ergonomics, weight, even where the radio is placed.

“Passive and active safety components are integrated throughout our vehicles,” she said, “most of which are invisible to the driver.”

Maybe instead of touting its R&D spend (and implying that little of it goes to non-safety related projects like, I don’t know, hybrid technology), Toyota should start figuring out how it can improve response time when things do go wrong. The latest example of a delayed defect response at Toyota involves the latest engine recall. According to BusinessWeek, the valve spring defect in question was first reported as early as 2007.

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3 of 8 comments
  • Domestic Hearse Domestic Hearse on Jul 06, 2010

    365 days a year. Times 24 hours per day. Equals 8,760 hours per year. Times 1 million dollars.... I call b***hit, Iliffe-Moon-san. But brilliant, since most Americans no longer have basic math skills nor can they think critically.

    • L'avventura L'avventura on Jul 06, 2010

      Which is $8.76B Which is where Toyota's R&D budget is, its especially bloated in terms of today's currency rate since Toyota R&D budget in calculated in yen, and the dollar and euro are weak. Even back in 2005 Toyota spent 770 billion yen in R&D, which is 8.75B in today's exchange rate. Its even larger now. Also, this $1 million per hour claim is fairly old: Now, R&D and safety may be a questionable connection, but I'm sure Toyota is going to spend billions in settlements and lawyers fees this year, not to mention recall costs and everything in between. With all those calculated it should easily be over $8.46B, but I'm sure Toyota doesn't want to brag about those costs...

  • TomH TomH on Jul 06, 2010

    Meh, "investing" at ~$1,350/car isn't a lot of money when you take into account the array of safety technologies in modern vehicles. Once you consider all of the things that are reportable in NHTSA's world (and their global counterparts) it's pretty easy to get there. The car biz deals in mega-numbers that are literally and figuratively "hard to imagine."

  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Ed That has to be a joke.