Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Remember when cars, especially Toyotas, suddenly had a mind of their own, started accelerating, leaving their drivers helpless and hapless? It was in the beginning of 2010. The media cited scores of allegedly killed people. Source: The NHTSA complaint database. When complaints skyrocketed, the media wrote about a dramatic increase of complaints. Now, have a look at the graph above.

This graph was compiled by Edmunds. It is a simple report. It shows the number of all complaints about all cars of any manufacturer per month. We see that in February 2010 the number of complaints exploded, it was high in March, and then consolidated at a slightly higher level than at the end of 2009. In a straight line analysis, the complaints should be approximately where they are.

Then why the jump in February and March 2010? It was the height of the witch-hunt. The height of the fakery on ABC News. It was the fools hearings on the hill.

When that was over, suddenly, as if driven by ghosts, the cars behaved again. After Toyota had been declared ghost-free by the NHTSA in February 2011, there was even a little dip in the reports. Then, all fell back to normal.

For those who are still desperate to read something into this crowd-sourced list, here a little table, also courtesy of Edmunds. It shows the YTD complaints trough August 2011, along with the rolling 12 month market share, for the top ten recipients of complaints. As you can see, things are pretty much as they should be. People seem to complain a lot about Chrysler though…


Witch-hunts had been with us since ancient times. In Sub-Saharan Africa, India, and Saudi Arabia, people are still tried and sentenced for witchcraft. The graph you are looking at shows that witch-hunts are alive and well in America.

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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  • Niky Niky on Oct 04, 2011

    There are witch-hunts and there are witch-hunts. Just recently, there was a furore over "Unintended Acceleration" in the Philippines with regards to a diesel engined Mitsubishi... the diesel Montero Sport (a seven seat version of the Triton pick-up). Classic SUA cases, most of them, older driver, "decades of experience", gets in, starts the vehicle, and it accelerates "wildly out of control even with the brakes held down". Having driven the car and experienced the absolutely fantastic levels of electronic throttle lag and the complete lack of low-rpm boost from the turbo, it's very easy to come to the conclusion that they were stepping on the gas instead of the brakes before shifting into "D" and were caught unawares when it finally started accelerating, five to ten seconds after they stepped on the "brakes." Interestingly, in Thailand, where the vehicle is produced (under the nameplate "Pajero Sport" and where they sell tens of thousands more of them, there is no similar uproar.

  • Bryce Bryce on Oct 05, 2011

    Only in the US where lawyers chase any siren do these things happen.

  • 3SpeedAutomatic At this time, GM had a "Me Too" attitude towards engine development:[list][*]the Euro luxury brands have diesels, so can we via an Olds V8[/*][*]variable value timing, welcome to the brave new world of Cadillac V8-6-4[/*][*]an aluminum block V8 engine via the HT4100, the go-go 80's[/*][*]double overhead cams, 4 valves per cylinder, no sweat, just like the Asian brands via NorthStar. [/*][/list]When you mindset is iron block and cast iron heads, life if easy. However, each time, GM failed to understand the nuances; intricate differences; and technical difficulty in each new engine program. Each time, GM came away with egg on its face and its reputation in ruin.If you look today, the engines in most Cadillacs are the same as in many Chevrolets. 🚗🚗🚗
  • 3-On-The-Tree I don’t think Toyotas going down.
  • ToolGuy Random thoughts (bulleted list because it should work on this page):• Carlos Tavares is a very smart individual.• I get the sense that the western hemisphere portion of Stellantis was even more messed up than he originally believed (I have no data), which is why the plan (old plan, original plan) has taken longer than expected (longer than I expected).• All the OEMs who have taken a serious look at what is happening with EVs in China have had to take a step back and reassess (oversimplification: they were thinking mostly business-as-usual with some tweaks here and there, and now realize they have bigger issues, much bigger, really big).• You (dear TTAC reader) aren't ready to hear this yet, but the EV thing is a tsunami (the thing has already done the thing, just hasn't reached you yet). I hesitate to even tell you, but it is the truth.
  • ToolGuy ¶ I have kicked around doing an engine rebuild at some point (I never have on an automobile); right now my interest level in that is pretty low, say 2/5.¶ It could be interesting to do an engine swap at some point (also haven't done that), call that 2/5 as well.¶ Building a kit car would be interesting but a big commitment, let's say 1/5 realistically.¶ Frame-up restoration, very little interest, 1/5.¶ I have repainted a vehicle (down to bare metal) and that was interesting/engaging (didn't have the right facilities, but made it work, sort of lol).¶ Taking a vehicle which I like where the ICE has given out and converting it to EV sounds engaging and appealing. Would not do it anytime soon, maybe 3 to 5 years out. Current interest level 4/5.¶ Building my own car (from scratch) would have some significant hurdles. Unless I started my own car company, which might involve other hurdles. 😉
  • Rover Sig "Value" is what people perceive as its worth. What is the worth or value of an EV somebody creates out of a used car? People value different things, but for a vehicle, people generally ascribe worth in terms of reliability, maintainability, safety, appearance and style, utility (payload, range, etc.), convenience, operating cost, projected life, support network, etc. "Value for money" means how much worth would people think it had compared to competing vehicles on the market, in other words, would it be a good deal to buy one, compared to other vehicles one could get? Consider what price you would have to ask for it, including the parts and labor you put into it, because that would affect the “for the money” part of the “value for money” calculation. An indicator of whether people think an EV-built-in-a-used-car would provide "value for money" is the current level of demand for used cars turned into EVs. Are there a lot of people looking for these on the market? Or would building one just be a hobby? Repairing an existing EV, bringing it back into spec, might create better value for the money. Although demand for EVs is reportedly down recently.