By on April 19, 2011

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5 Comments on “Livechat With Jeff Liker And Timothy Ogden, Authors Of “Toyota Under Fire”...”

  • avatar
    Robert Fahey

    Some of the dialogue was about poor journalism. Here’s a quick hall of shame:

    LA Times milks the Saylor crash, writes unattributed statements about Toyota death data, then lets lawyer-funded “safety advocate” Sean Kane sell his sound bites as he starts his campaign to pollute public opinion for his plaintiff clients.
    Brian Ross from ABC News does basically the same thing.

    Ross again, this time with Dr. Frankenstein and his brain-damaged Avalon.

    CNN calls an old Toyota TSB an “undisclosed document” that was never made public, even though TSBs are public documents posted on Nitsa’s site and many others. To boot, Ross trumpeted the same TSB in his first spook story above. Cheerleading the CNN story, of course, is Clarence Ditlow. He runs the Center for Auto Safety, Kane’s alma mater. Like Kane, he’s a repeat gold medalist in the Hype Olympics. Ditlow helped along the Audi farce in the 1980s and the Silverado gas tank farce of the 1990s.

    USA publishes an alleged Toyota death map. No, make that a “confirmed” Toyota death map. Read the map header and footer. Those red dots are dead bodies scattered across the country, all Toyota’s fault, as “confirmed” by the government and then “verified” by USA Today!? Remember, the NHTSA confirmed only two fatal accidents from Toyota acceleration problems since the year 2000, both caused by misused floor mats. So what was USA Today thinking here? Ka-ching, that’s what.

  • avatar
    H Man

    Very informative post.  Thank you!

  • avatar

    I wonder if Japanese corporate culture had something to do with the slow communication within Toyota?

    I worked for a Japanese OEM for a couple of years back in the mid ’90s, and it was not the sort of place that would encourage people to quickly bring bad news forward.  The management was quite hierarchical, and didn’t really encourage straight talk about problems.  That observation is based on a sample size of one, in a different industry (electronics) so I’m not sure how much it applies here.  That was also quite a few years ago, and it’s possible that younger and less formal managers are running the show in Japan these days.

    It is does seem that some of the problems at Toyota dragged on for a number of years before any decisive action was taken, and a problem like a poor accelerator pedal design that would easily snag improperly installed or ill fitting aftermarket mats seems like something that would be obvious should be quickly corrected.

  • avatar
    Robert Fahey

    Penguin, you’re right. Toyota admitted it chased growth too rampantly, communicated poorly and failed to connect the dots leading up to the sticky-pedal recall of last January. And in the end, LaHood et al admitted they chased a few wild geese when they ransacked Toyota’s closets. But when will the quacks in the press corp admit they let plaintiffs’ attorneys write the headlines?

    Remember, NHTSA’s report notes that the tidal wave of consumer complaints was caused by headlines, not “in-field failures.” In other words, the tail wagged the dog.

    This says something about America’s psychology. Demagoguery cannot work without a receptive populace. The previous automotive scare, the Audi disaster in the 1980s, never left American borders. In fact, America owns the term “sudden unintended acceleration.” We have a dysfunctional relationship with cars. We rely on them but don’t understand or trust them, and don’t use them properly. So it’s only natural that the triumvirate of journalists, trial lawyers and their allied safety experts have easy access to our central nervous system when the subject is automotive. Our Toyotas worked fine until headlines prodded our auto-chondria. Then we gave the plaintiffs’ bar just what it wanted. We had a fine nervous breakdown. We served this hollow meal to ourselves, and royally.

  • avatar
    Twin Cam Turdo

    I’m just perturbed because I can’t buy this book (for Kindle) in Japan.
    Rather ironic…

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