U.S. Government Accused of Withholding Exonerating Toyota Information

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
u s government accused of withholding exonerating toyota information

Remember how Toyota was slapped with a $16.4m fine for allegedly withholding information and delaying recalls? Remember how Toyota was served again with a subpoena for information, what many read as the prelude for another $16.4m fine? (If anyone again says that $16,4m is pocket change, please send me the pocket change.) Well, there are some people in Washington who claim that it’s the U.S. government that might be withholding information.

According to Dow Jones Newswire (via The Nikkei [sub] ) “the Obama administration came under pressure to disclose more information about its investigation of Toyota Motor Corp. with congressional Republicans questioning whether officials are withholding data that could favor Toyota in some crashes.”

Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, the senior Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent a letter to NHTSA, asking them to fork over crash data that, according to articles in the Wall Street Journal and TTAC article published last week, proves that in many crashes, the driver had his or her foot on the gas instead of the brake.

The Journal said they had it from “people familiar with the crash-data test results” and Joe Barton thinks thos people might be at the NHTSA. As far as the NHTSA or the DOT are concerned, mum’s the word. There are other people who point fingers at Toyota and say that it was Toyota who “planted” that story, but Barton isn’t buying it.

Barton sent a strongly worded letter to NHTSA boss David Strickland, The letterwas also signed by Energy and Commerce Committee members Reps. Ed Whitfield (R., Ky.) and Michael Burgess (R., Texas). The letter says that “it is important for us to know whether NHTSA has EDR data showing that some incidents of reported sudden unintended acceleration were the result of pedal misapplication.”

The Republicans wave a big stick: They point out in the letter that the House is expected to vote soon on a far-reaching vehicle-safety bill that would up the financial ante considerably, and could even land car executive in jail. Subliminal message: If you want that law to pass anytime soon, hand over the information. Too bad there is no clause in any law that the fine gets refunded if the government withholds information. That’s not the way it works.

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  • Troonbop Troonbop on Jul 22, 2010

    "why so many people are concerned about Toyota’s fate." Did you even read and understand the story? It's about government and its treatment of a private company, not the fate of that company, although that's also of interest. That might interest even those who are "not Canadian by birth".

  • Tricky Dicky Tricky Dicky on Jul 23, 2010

    SomeDude For me the story is important because how one national government behaves towards a corporation, can affect that corporation's brand image and consequent ability to generate revenue, in many other markets across the globe. So I think it is in everyone's interests that there is a fair and transparanet set of rules for business and that governments (there's more than one of them!) does not get involved in partisan activities. This is probably a lot easier to achieve if governments do not have any stakeholding interests in the game itself. This is the big question here - is the US government, via the proxy of the NHTSA - playing fair with Toyota? There's been more than a sniff of a witch-hunt going on and I can't help but think that MANY other auto companies would be in a difficult position if the rulebook had been applied evenly to them. Not that I am trying to downplay their quality failings, it's just that Toyota on a bad day still compares reasonably well with many other cos on a good day, in that area (in my humble opinion).

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