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Toyota recalls | LATEST TOYOTA NEWS ALWAYS POSTED HERE!
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:05 pm    Post subject: Toyota recalls | LATEST TOYOTA NEWS ALWAYS POSTED HERE! Reply with quote

Updated March 01, 2013


Scroll Down To Bottom Of Last Page For Latest Toyota News


Are Toyota's Killing People?


[color=red][b]March 10, 2010 911 tapes capture terrifying Toyota ride


On Monday, police had to help slow down a runaway Toyota Prius

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/35794731#35794731 on a California freeway. The driver said the accelerator had become stuck and the car reached 94 mph before a trooper, shouting instructions from a megaphone, helped him slow down and shut off the engine.

A driver says his Toyota suddenly accelerated to 90 mph, taking him on a terrifying 30-mile ride on a San Diego County freeway. With the help of a California Highway Patrol officer, the driver was able to bring the car under control. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.

911 tapes capture terrifying Toyota ride
Listen to James Sikes, the driver of the out-of-control Toyota Prius, plead with emergency operators as his car careens through traffic at high speeds on a San Diego freeway. CNBC’s Phil LeBeau reports.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/35794731#35794731

Tuesday:
A 56-year-old woman claims that this Toyota Prius went out of control in Harrison, N.Y. as she was leaving her driveway. It was the second incident in as many days of alleged runaway acceleration of the popular Toyota hybrid.

A second incident involving a Toyota Prius accelerating unintentionally http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/35794731#35794731 occurred Tuesday in Harrison, N.Y., according to NBC's WNBC. Police were investigating the cause of the crash, but Harrison police Capt. Anthony Marraccini said a floor mat issue at the heart of many of the recalls did not appear to be a factor.



March 10, 2010 (19) New Videos About Runaway Toyota's

19 Videos Of Toyota Runaway Facts:

Toyotas Gone Wild: Cops Forced To Intervene To Slow Down Runaway Prius

Joe Weisenthal | Mar. 9, 2010, 5:52 AM

Another damaging blow for Toyota. Once again, a Prius went haywire and would not slow down. The police had to get in front of it to make it stop. Here's video (via LeftLaneNews)
Video Of 18 Toyota Runaway Facts:

http://www.businessinsider.com/toyotas-gone-wild-cops-forced-to-intervene-to-slow-down-runaway-prius-2010-3

Be sure and move your mouse over the video you want to see and then click the video to start the story. Sad, Toyota has caused so many people to suffer! Why?


March 08, 2010 - New Video Of Runaway Toyota's

Video #3 March 08, 2010 - Video Of Runaway Toyota That Happened Monday, March 8, 2010
http://news.yahoo.com/video/local-15749667/18523002#video=18532023

Video # 1 March 08, 2010
Video:CHP Investigates Runaway Toyota Prius CBS 2 / KCAL 9 Los Angeles
http://news.yahoo.com/video/local-15749667/18522045

Video # 2 March 08, 2010
Play Video Video:Runaway Prius in California CNBC
http://news.yahoo.com/video/business-15749628/18521785

Prius with stuck accelerator glides to safe stop - Finally!

Video #3 March 08, 2010 - Video Of Runaway Toyota That Happened Monday, March 8, 2010
http://news.yahoo.com/video/local-15749667/18523002#video=18532023

Tue Mar 9, 4:19 am ET

EL CAJON, Calif. – A California Highway Patrol officer helped slow a runaway Toyota Prius from 94 mph to a safe stop on Monday after the car's accelerator became stuck on a San Diego County freeway, the CHP said.

Prius driver James Sikes called 911 about 1:30 p.m. after accelerating to pass another vehicle on Interstate 8 near La Posta and finding that he could not control his car, the CHP said.

"I pushed the gas pedal to pass a car and it did something kind of funny... it jumped and it just stuck there," the 61-year-old driver said at a news conference. "As it was going, I was trying the brakes...it wasn't stopping, it wasn't doing anything and it just kept speeding up," Sikes said, adding he could smell the brakes burning he was pressing the pedal so hard.

A patrol car pulled alongside the Prius and officers told Sikes over a loudspeaker to push the brake pedal to the floor and apply the emergency brake.

"They also got it going on a steep upgrade," said Officer Jesse Udovich. "Between those three things, they got it to slow down."

After the car decelerated to about 50 mph, Sikes turned off the engine and coasted to a halt.

The officer then maneuvered his car in front of the Prius as a precautionary block, Udovich said.

In a statement, Toyota said it has dispatched a field technical specialist to San Diego to investigate the incident.

Toyota has recalled some 8.5 million vehicles worldwide — more than 6 million in the United States — since last fall because of acceleration problems in multiple models and braking issues in the Prius.

Toyota owners have complained of their vehicles speeding out of control despite efforts to slow down, sometimes resulting in deadly crashes. The government has received complaints of 34 deaths linked to sudden acceleration of Toyota vehicles since 2000.

One of the crashes claimed the life of a CHP officer last August.
Off-duty CHP Officer Mark Saylor was killed along with his wife, her brother and the couple's daughter after their Lexus' accelerator got stuck in La Mesa.

The Toyota-manufactured loaner vehicle slammed into a sport utility vehicle at about 100 mph, careened off the freeway, hit an embankment, overturned and burst into flames.

Information from: The San Diego Union-Tribune, http://www.signonsandiego.com

Video Of Runaway Toyota That Happened Monday, March 8, 2010

http://news.yahoo.com/video/local-15749667/18523002#video=18532023

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_runaway_prius


New Video March 4, 2010: Video:

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/RunawayToyotas/toyota-recall-fix-working-drivers-federal-safety-agency/story?id=10004076

Toyota Recall Fix Not Working, Drivers Tell Federal Safety Agency

As Toyota Execs Say Problem Solved, NHTSA Receives 10 New Complaints


Here are five (5) videos that prove this is a serious problem that could cause death:

Toyota’s Are Potential Death Traps?

View this video #1:

http://automotive-motion.info/2010/01/31/toyota-recall-jan-21-2010-flv/

FAIR USE NOTICE: This video may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes only. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 USC section 107 of the US Copyright Law. The latest recall, announced Thursday, Jan.21, 2010, affects the RAV4, Corolla, and Matrix models from 2009 and 2010, Avalons from model years 2005 to 2010, Camrys from 2007 to 2010, the 2010 Highlander, the 2007 to 2010 Tundra and the 2008 to 2010 Sequoias. About 1.7 million of the vehicles cited are also affected by the earlier recall. The company says this action is separate from fall’s recall of 4.2 million cars to replace floor mats and alter accelerator pedals. The company had blamed floor mats for many of the acceleration incidents. An ABC News investigation, however, found that many drivers and safety experts rejected this explanation, asking instead if there was an issue with the electronic components that control acceleration. Toyota says the recall of the “sticking gas pedals” covers Haggerty’s problem, but he says his gas pedal was never stuck. In its statements, Toyota does not claim the “sticking gas pedal” recall is a complete fix and says it will continue to investigate other incidents of unwanted acceleration, including those cited by ABC News. STORY: abcnews.go.com


View This Video #2 - As Your Life May Depend On It: [/color]

http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerindex?id=8990979


Another Video #3 - of Toyota owners with runaway cars:
Video #3:
http://abcnews.go.com/video/video?id=9676625&tab=9482931&section=1206834&playlist=1363932


Video #4 Toyota Hide Defects From You?Toyota Hides Defects With The Help Of Government?
Added On February 4, 2010
An auto safety advocate accuses Toyota and the George W. Bush administration of ignoring problems with Toyota cars.
Watch this video about Toyota and what they kenw years ago:
http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/us/2010/02/04/nr.phillips.claybrook.toyota.cnn

February 5, 2010
Video #5
Video #5 Toyota Faces Federal Probe Over Prius Brakes Did Toyota Hide Defects?
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/transportation/jan-june10/toyota_02-04.html

Updated: 3:20 PM Apr 29, 2011

Judge refuses to deny dismissal of Toyota lawsuits

A U.S. District judge in California says the lawsuits have enough merit to move forward. The lawsuits were filed over claims of sudden acceleration defects.

http://www.wkyt.com/home/headlines/120976969.html

Judge: I Will Again Deny Dismissal Of Toyota Suits

GREG RISLING, Associated Press
POSTED: 12:58 pm CDT April 29, 2011
UPDATED: 7:56 pm CDT April 29, 2011

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- A federal judge said Friday that he will deny another request from Toyota Motor Corp. to dismiss lawsuits filed by car owners who claim sudden-acceleration defects caused the value of their vehicles to drop.

U.S. District Judge James Selna in Santa Ana said in a 30-page ruling that the lawsuits have enough merit to move forward.

"Taking these allegations as true, as the court must at the pleading stage, they establish an economic loss," Selna wrote. "Plaintiffs bargained for safe, defect-free vehicles, but instead received unsafe, defective vehicles. A vehicle with a defect is worth less than one without a defect."

Toyota spokeswoman Celeste Migliore released a statement in response to Selna's ruling after a hearing in an Orange County courtroom late Friday.

"Although Toyota is confident that no defect exists in its electronic throttle control system, at this early stage of the litigation the Court is required to accept as true all of the factual allegations made by plaintiffs' counsel in ruling on Toyota's Motion to Dismiss. The burden is now squarely on plaintiffs' counsel to prove their allegations and Toyota is confident that no such proof exists," the statement read in part.

Selna rejected a similar dismissal motion in November made by the Japanese automaker. His most recent ruling, which likely will be finalized within 10 days, was in response to an amended complaint by the plaintiffs regarding economic loss.

Other lawsuits have been filed that seek compensation for injury and death due to sudden acceleration.

Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed since Toyota began recalling millions of vehicles due to acceleration problems in several models and brake defects with the Prius hybrid. To date, more than 14 million Toyota vehicles have been recalled worldwide, and the company has paid the U.S. government a record $48.8 million in fines for its handling of three recalls.

"We believe that Toyota failed consumers through a litany of failures and missteps, including choosing not to warn the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of sudden acceleration issues they knew existed," said plaintiffs' attorney Steve Berman. "We believe this specific failure was a violation of consumer protection laws and are pleased that Judge Selna's preliminary ruling will allow us to address that in our case."

Toyota argues the plaintiffs have been unable to prove that a design defect - namely its electronic throttle control system - is responsible for vehicles surging unexpectedly. It has blamed driver error, faulty floor mats and sticky accelerator pedals for the unintended acceleration.

The automaker's defense was buoyed earlier this year when U.S. regulators said electronic flaws weren't to blame for unintended acceleration. Plaintiffs' attorneys, however, want to look at Toyota's secretive source code that may provide more information about the electronic throttle control system.

The first trials on the acceleration issue are expected to begin in 2013.

Read more: http://www.wapt.com/news/27721356/detail.html#ixzz1L1Hn3brf

http://www.wapt.com/news/27721356/detail.html


April 26, 2011

Toyota issues safety recall on more than 50,000 Tundras

San Antonio Business Journal
Date: Tuesday, April 26, 2011, 4:31pm CDT

CATHERINE DOMINGUEZ/SAN ANTONIO BUSINESS JOURNAL

Toyota has issued a voluntary safety recall on thousands of 2011 model year Tundras.

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. said Tuesday that it is voluntarily recalling 51,000 2011 Tundra trucks to inspect the rear drive shaft.

In an estimated 0.05 percent of the Tundras, the rear drive shaft may include a slip yoke component that could break due to improper casting during the foundry process. The Toyota Tundra is assembled at the company’s truck plant in San Antonio.

Toyota is aware of at least one drive shaft slip yoke failure in a customer-owned vehicle. There have been no reports of accidents or injuries associated with the rear drive shaft. Tundra owners will receive letters announcing the recall, beginning in May. Toyota dealers will perform a quick 10-minute inspection on the vehicle. If the rear drive shaft needs to be replaced, the part will be replaced at no cost to the owner.

Toyota Motor Sales is the marketing arm for Toyota vehicles sold in the United States. The company is based in Torrance, Calif.

http://www.bizjournals.com/sanantonio/news/2011/04/26/toyota-issues-safety-recall-on-more.html


April 26, 2011

Toyota Stays too Close to Home (Opinion) -- Detroit News

By Daniel Howes
Apr. 26, 2011

Akio Toyoda can't seem to catch a break.

Last year's nightmarish recall scandal exposed fissures in Toyota Motor Corp.'s vaunted reputation for quality, presumed operational excellence and the new CEO's ability to manage a crisis. The new nightmare is the aftershocks of a devastating earthquake and tsunami and their impact on the automaker's earning statement and supply network. One result is that vehicle production last month plunged nearly 63 percent, and normalcy is not expected to return until late this year. Not good.

"Supply chain disruptions are posing a greater challenge for Japanese automakers than … initially anticipated, and have forced virtually all Japanese automakers to significantly cut output in Japan," Standard & Poor's said in a statement Monday on its negative outlook for Toyota, its captive suppliers and other rivals. "The impact is also starting to spread to production outside Japan."

In more ways than the obvious ones, too. From afar, Toyota and its boss look like they are being forced by circumstance to come to terms with how the company manages its business, who supplies its parts and whether heavy reliance on a network disproportionately centered in Japan is a smart business strategy for an automaker that purports to be global but sort of isn't.

"We need to procure more parts overseas, and we also urge our suppliers to make more forays outside Japan," Atsushi Niimi, Toyota's executive vice president of production, told the New York Times. "It's something we don't want to think about, but it is something we cannot avoid if we are to continue to do business in a quake-prone country."

No, it probably isn't something they want to think about — much less talk about publicly. Why? Because the corporate soul-searching confirms what industry insiders (especially in this town) have said for years, namely that the spin about Toyota being a "New American Manufacturer" is less true in practice than in the hazy fog of PR-speak.

In the aftermath of the devastating quake and the nuclear accident that followed, Toyota's own damage assessments have turned out to be the bleakest among Japan's automakers; they've confirmed just how much metal they still ship to foreign markets from their home base; and they've exposed the limits of Toyota's global interconnections.

Last year's massive recalls and congressional hearings, with Toyoda himself as a star witness, achieved similar results. They revealed a Balkanized corporate structure whose constituent parts communicated mostly with Japan, not each other. In confirming that essentially all major decisions were made at headquarters, they showed regional autonomy to be a fiction concocted for local consumption.

They also detailed a record of problems reaching back years — long before the Treasury Department moved to bail out two of Detroit's three automakers — and persuasively confirmed that top company leadership knew about troublesome floor mats, the concerns of regulators and other issues long before they moved to address them.

Embarrassing? Yes. Difficult? That, too, as are the harrowing post-quake shocks to Toyota and its rivals in Japan. The opportunity rests in the responses and reappraisal that comes with them, even if the short-term beneficiaries are the Detroit rivals who spent so many years looking at the rear end of an (unintended?) accelerating Toyota.

For the first time in a long time, Detroit finds itself well-positioned to a) manage a gyrating market stoked by spiking gas prices and b) to capitalize on the troubles of a juggernaut whose weaknesses are exposed. The tests will be how effectively Detroit presses its advantage and whether the guy whose name is on Toyota's headquarters can rise to the challenge and make his company better for it.


Last Updated: April 25. 2011 5:27PM

S&P lowers outlook for Toyota, Nissan, Honda - Pearl Harbor?

S&P lowers outlook for Toyota, Nissan, Honda

Christine Tierney / The Detroit News

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lowered its outlook for Japan's leading automakers and big parts suppliers on Monday on concerns that extended production stoppages could erode their share of key markets.

The debt-rating agency revised its outlook to negative from stable for Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co., and three of Toyota's key suppliers — Aisin Seiki Co. Ltd., Denso Corp. and Toyota Industries. S&P didn't, however, change their ratings.

S&P expressed concerns about the long-term effects of last month's earthquake on Japan's auto industry after Toyota said Friday that it may not be able to restore its Japanese vehicle production to normal levels until November or December.

Honda said Monday that it also didn't expect its domestic operations to be fully restored until the end of the year.

"Supply chain disruptions are posing a greater challenge on Japanese automakers than Standard & Poor's initially anticipated, and have forced virtually all Japanese automakers to significantly cut output in Japan," S&P Tokyo-based credit analyst Chizuko Satsukawa said in a report.

Monthly Japanese production data released Monday showed the dramatic impact of the March 11 quake that unleashed a deadly tsunami onto northeastern Japan. Floodwaters crippled a nuclear power plant, causing electricity shortages that have hampered efforts to restore output.

Toyota's auto production in Japan plunged 62.7 percent in March because of disruptions in its supply lines, and its exports were down 33 percent. Slightly under half of Toyota's output comes from its Japanese operations.

Nissan's domestic output fell 52 percent in March, and Honda's slumped 63 percent.

While Japanese automakers have restored some production at their domestic factories, parts shortages are now affecting their U.S. and other overseas plants.

Overall Japanese auto output is at around half of normal levels, S&P said.

"In our opinion, extended production cuts may erode Japanese automakers' market shares and competitive positions in the longer term," it said.

Other analysts also revised their outlooks after Toyota's update.

"If we were to simulate Toyota's latest timetable across all Japan-based automakers, it would suggest that the potential for U.S. market share losses (through the remainder of 2011) may be more than double the 60,000-100,000 (units) we previously forecasted," wrote Itay Michaeli, auto analyst at Citi Investment Research & Analysis.

He said shares in General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. were likely to benefit from firmer vehicle prices and higher U.S. market share.

S&P said it expected Japan's automakers to make up some of the lost output during the second half of the Japanese fiscal year, which began April 1.

"Unlike after the Lehman Shock, vehicle demand prospects remain solid in North America and emerging markets, and automakers could partially make up for lost production by increasing output in the latter half," S&P analyst Satsukawa said.

On March 4, a week before the earthquake, S&P had downgraded Toyota's debt rating to AA- — four notches from the top rating — from AA, citing the drag on its profitability of rising raw material prices and a strong yen that increases production costs in Japan.

Bloomberg News contributed.

ctierney@detnews.com

(313) 222-1463

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110425/AUTO01/104250385/S&P-lowers-outlook-for-Toyota--Nissan--Honda#ixzz1KZgS14Xm

http://www.detnews.com/article/20110425/AUTO01/104250385/1361/S&P-lowers-outlook-for-Toyota--Nissan--Honda


April 25, 2011

Japanese Auto Sales Plummet! Their "Pearl Harbor?"

Toyota car production plummets after tsunami

Toyota car production in Japan plummets 62.7 percent due to parts supply crunch after tsunami and 14 Million Recalled Vehicles

Toyota was losing market share to American vehicle companies before the earthquake! 14 Million recalled vehicles will cause a "Pearl Harbor" for Japanese. Every dog has its day!

In this April 22, 2011 file photo, Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda reacts during a press conference in Tokyo. Toyota, the world's top-selling automaker last year (by only 30,000 units over GM), said Monday, April 25, 2011, its domestic production in March was 129,491 vehicles. Toyota's global production dropped 29.9 percent year-on-year to 542,465 vehicles for the month. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File)

Shino Yuasa, Associated Press, On Monday April 25, 2011, 10:30 am EDT
TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota's car production in Japan plummeted a staggering 62.7 percent in March due to a parts supply crunch following the earthquake and tsunami.

Toyota Motor Corp., the world's top-selling automaker last year, said Monday its domestic production in March was 129,491 vehicles -- the lowest since 1976 when Toyota began maintaining production figures.

The magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11 destroyed many factories in northeastern Japan, causing severe parts shortages for Toyota and other automakers.

Given Toyota's production woes after the tsunami, General Motors Co. is likely to reclaim the title of world's largest automaker that it lost in 2008.

Toyota sold 8.42 million vehicles last year, just keeping its lead over a resurgent General Motors Co., which sold 8.39 million, thanks to booming sales in China.

Toyota said in December that its global production would total 7.7 million vehicles in 2011. But Tokai-Tokyo Securities analyst Mamoru Kato said that number would fall to around 6 million due to disrupted production.

Toyota's global production in March dropped 29.9 percent year-on-year to 542,465 vehicles, while its sales in Japan tumbled 45 percent for the month.

Honda Motor Co. said its domestic production in March plunged 62.9 percent to 34,754 vehicles, with worldwide production falling 19.2 percent to 282,254 vehicles. Nissan Motor Co. said its production in Japan dropped 52.4 percent to 47,590 vehicles.

The parts supply crunch forced Toyota to suspend manufacturing in Japan for several weeks, resulting in a production loss of 260,000 cars. Toyota said Monday it is still struggling to secure around 150 types of auto parts.

"The impact of the tsunami disaster on Toyota is extremely severe," said Kato. "Since Toyota depends so much on domestic parts suppliers, any major disruptions in supply chains could cripple its output."

Kato said Toyota could suffer a net loss of 1 trillion yen ($12.2 billion) in the April-June quarter and a net loss of 500 billion yen in the July-September quarter.

Another auto analyst, Masataka Kunugimoto from Nomura Securities, has said Toyota would likely post an operating loss of 328 billion yen in the April-June quarter and an operating loss of 78 billion yen in the July-September quarter.

Toyota is currently running all its Japanese auto plants at half capacity, and the car maker said last week its car production will not return to normal until November or December.

Honda said Monday its auto factories in Japan will operate at half capacity until the end of June, and the company doesn't expect to return to full production in Japan until the end of the year.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Toyota-car-production-apf-1753682984.html?x=0&.v=13


Monday, April 25, 2011

Toyota Domestic Output Falls 62.7% In March

TOKYO (NQN)--Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) said Monday its domestic output tumbled 62.7% on the year to 129,491 units in March, marking the seventh straight monthly fall.

Damage from the Great East Japan Earthquake forced the carmaker to suspend operations at some factories.

The company exported 107,751 cars, down 33.4% -- down for the first time in two months.

Domestic sales dropped 45% to 115,196, marking the seventh consecutive monthly decline.

Overseas production slid 3.1% to 412,974 -- the first time it has fallen in five months.

http://e.nikkei.com/e/fr/tnks/Nni20110425D25SS080.htm


April 22, 2011

GM likely to retake No. 1 sales spot from Toyota

By Associated Press | Friday, April 22, 2011 |
http://www.bostonherald.com | Automotive

Photo by AP (File)

DETROIT — General Motors is almost certain to claim the title of world’s biggest automaker this year, retaking the top spot from Toyota, which has been hurt by production problems since the Japanese earthquake and still can’t escape the shadow of major safety recalls.

The No. 1 title, a morale booster for the winner’s employees and managers, would cap GM’s remarkable comeback from bankruptcy.

GM’s sales are up, mainly in China and the U.S, the world’s top two markets. Cars are better than in the past, especially small ones.

But even though GM came within 30,000 sales of Toyota last year and began strong in 2011, any sales victory this year has more to do with Toyota’s problems.

First, a series of big recalls has ballooned to 14 million vehicles worldwide and damaged Toyota’s reputation for reliability. That has spurred loyal buyers to look at other brands.

Second, a March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan curbed Toyota’s car production. On Friday, Toyota Motor Corp. said its factories worldwide won’t return to full production until November or December. That means buyers across the globe may not be able to get the models they want. Already the crisis has cost the company production of 260,000 vehicles.

Last year, Toyota sold 8.42 million cars and trucks, barely ahead of a resurgent GM, which sold 8.39 million. GM held the No. 1 spot from 1932 until 2008.

Here’s why GM is almost a lock to retake the lead this year:

A BETTER GM: General Motors Co. was dysfunctional three years ago, hobbled by enormous debt and a giant bureaucracy. Its quality was suspect, it lost billions, and it had few products other than pickups that buyers found appealing. After a government bailout, a leaner GM emerged from a 2009 bankruptcy with new vehicles and a focus on Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac.

Since then, GM has come up with hits including the Chevrolet Equinox small SUV, the Buick LaCrosse luxury car, and the Chevrolet Cruze compact. Its quality is better. Sales so far this year are up 25 percent in the U.S. and 10 percent in China. The efficient Cruze compact and Chevrolet Volt car both hit the market as U.S. gasoline prices started rising.

TOYOTA TROUBLES: Bad publicity from the recalls, mainly for cars that can accelerate without warning, was hurting Toyota long before the earthquake.

The recalls began late in 2009, and came just as GM, Ford, Hyundai, and others introduced more competitive cars and trucks. With a bunch of nice alternatives and doubts about quality, customers who dutifully returned to Toyota started considering other brands. Many Toyota models look old and need upgrades. Despite rebates and low-interest financing, Toyota was the only major automaker with lower U.S. sales last year. Sales are up 12.5 percent so far in 2011, but only at half the growth of GM.

Toyota is scrambling to keep factories open after the earthquake, and U.S. dealers expect to run out of some models. Already dealers are reporting shortages of the Prius gas-electric hybrid, a high-demand model because of gas prices.

Merle Gothard, general manager of North Park Toyota in San Antonio, says he’s not worried about GM retaking the title because it still has a tarnished image from bankruptcy.

"It’s important from a marketing standpoint," he says. "But Toyota has other things going for it." He notes that Toyota is still profitable and never took a dime of stimulus money from the government. (How about the Japanese Government? Oh, that's diffenent?)

THE CHINA FACTOR: Toyota has nowhere near GM’s presence in China, now the world’s largest auto market. Through March, Toyota sold 208,000 vehicles there, but GM and its joint ventures sold more than three times that number. Growth in China by itself probably would have moved GM ahead of Toyota in worldwide sales. Toyota’s lead was only about one day’s worth of sales for GM.

CAVEATS: Toyota still has a loyal customer base that believes the cars are safe and will last forever. Many Toyotas run for hundreds of thousands of miles with little more than routine maintenance. It also has a reputation for fuel efficiency, led by the Prius.

GM would have to run into major problems to let No. 1 slip away this year. So far it has not been seriously hurt by parts shortages, but if some key electronic components from Japan can’t be made elsewhere, the company could run short of models. A new management team also is pushing to speed up introduction of new models, and that could hurt quality.

If GM takes No. 1 this year, it won’t crow much, says Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends and insights for TrueCar.com, an auto price tracking website.

"It’s because of (factory) capacity restrictions, and that’s not something they want to brag about," he says. (I say 14 million Toyota defect recalls has everything to do wit it!)

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/business/automotive/view.bg?articleid=1332655


April 21, 2011, 3:30 PM ET

Toyota Recalls 308,000 Vehicles To Fix Airbags

By Jonathan Welsh

A new Toyota recall related to faulty airbags includes certain 2008 Highlanders, shown, and RAV4s from 2007 and 2008. Toyota Motor Corp. says it will recall certain 2007 and 2008 RAV4 and 2008 Highlander SUVs sold in the U.S. because of a problem that could cause unwanted airbag deployments.

The flaw stems from the vehicles’ roll-sensing airbag systems that are designed to protect occupants in a rollover crash. Toyota says the roll sensing curtain shield airbag system has two sensors that detect the vehicle’s roll angle. If one of these sensors malfunctions, the airbag warning light illuminates and the roll-detection system stops working. In such cases the airbag will still activate in a side-impact collision, Toyota says.

More troubling is the possibility of the bags deploying inadvertently, which could happen if both sensors fail “nearly simultaneously” after the initial airbag system check.

The company says no other Lexus or Toyota models are involved in this recall and this particular problem involves only vehicles sold in North America. Vehicles in other markets don’t have the roll-sensing airbag system.

Under the recall, which affects about 214,000 RAV4s and 94,000 Highlanders, Toyota dealers will replace the sensor assembly free of charge. The company says the recall will begin next month. Recall information is available at www.toyota.com/recall and customers can also call Toyota at 800-331-4331.

http://blogs.wsj.com/drivers-seat/2011/04/21/toyota-recalls-308000-vehicles-to-fix-airbags/?mod=google_news_blog

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Toyota Canada to recall 25K crossovers - airbag defect

Toyota Canada to recall 25K crossoversApril 21, 2011 | 13:17

Money

Toyota Canada Inc. said Thursday it plans to recall some 25,000 older model crossover vehicles to replace the airbag sensor assembly.

Approximately 19,000 2007-2008 model year RAV4s and 6,000 2008 Highlander and Highlander Hybrids will be affected.

There’s a chance that if both curtain shield airbag sensors fail nearly simultaneously, the seat belt pretensioner and the curtain shield airbag could be inadvertently activated, the company said.

Toyota will begin notifying affected customers by mail this May. Dealers will replace the assembly at no cost to the customer.

http://money.canoe.ca/money/business/canada/archives/2011/04/20110421-131754.html


April 19, 2011

US: Toyota warns of peeling paint on RAV4s

Tuesday, April 19, 2011, AutomotiveWorld.com

Toyota has warned dealers in the US that certain model year 2009 RAV4 models may need to have their fuel tanks replaced. According to Reuters, the OEM intends to inspect around 21,000 RAV4s for peeli...

http://www.automotiveworld.com/news/oems-and-markets/86826-us-toyota-warns-of-peeling-paint-on-rav4s


April 16, 2011

Toyota hides defects again?

Toyota Vietnam apologizes for country’s largest car recall

Last updated: 4/16/2011 10:15

Toyota Vietnam apologized to local customers Friday for the technical problems that led to a massive recall of nearly 66,000 cars, the biggest ever in the country.

The move came two weeks after the company first admitted to three flaws in Innova models. It said some cars released to the market had over-responsive braking systems while other had improperly mounted camber bolts and seats.

At the time, the carmaker had said only 8,830 would need to be recalled for repair.

But on Friday, the number of faulty cars reached 65,703 units of both Fortuner and Innova models, even higher than the estimate of the engineer who helped exposed the case to the public.

Le Van Tach, the whistleblower, previously revealed that Toyota Vietnam had sold around 60,000 faulty vehicles in the country.

Innova, a seven-seater model, is one of the best selling cars in Vietnam, and is used widely by many taxi companies.

An official of the Vietnam Register, a government body responsible for checking vehicle quality, said the recall, though not the first in Vietnam, would be the largest ever.

Toyota Vietnam said it will continue to check if there are still more cars that need to be fixed.

The company said it will take between 12 minutes and two hours to fix each of the three flaws.

Vietnam News Agency reported on Friday that the Vietnam Register will inspect Toyota Vietnam’s production facilities to find what caused the flaws.

http://www.thanhniennews.com/2010/Pages/20110416101759.aspx


April 14, 2011

Union vows to fight Toyota shift cuts

By Samantha Donovan

Updated 18 minutes ago

Aftershock: Toyota says it will need to cut production shifts in Melbourne due to flow-on effects from the Japan earthquake disaster. (AFP: Roberto Schmidt)

Audio: Japan's earthquake cuts Toyota production in Australia (PM) Map: Melbourne 3000 Related Story: Japan disaster's 'ripple effect' on Australian auto industry The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union is vowing to fight Toyota's decision to halve its production at its Melbourne plant next month.

Toyota says the cut is necessary because its parts supply has been affected by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

The company announced yesterday that production of cars such as the Camry will be halved at the Altona plant in May, and probably June.

But workers at the Toyota's plant in Melbourne's south-west are not happy, and the union says the production cut is avoidable.

"They're leaving things really late. The tsunami happened quite a while ago. They have obviously known what is going to happen in the future but they like to keep things quiet, keep the shop floor happy, keep their product coming out off the floor with no defects," said one worker.

Toyota told the Australia Manufacturing Workers Union yesterday morning it was trying hard to source parts from elsewhere.

The union's Victorian secretary, Steve Dargavel, says they are determined to avert stand-downs.

He says Toyota is not in a legal position to follow through on the cuts.

"The company's briefing to the union was that this was avoidable, that they were meeting with their suppliers," he said.

"It is brought about because they are importing parts from an area that is not producing, and we can have alternative suppliers for those parts.

"From what we can see at this stage, Toyota is not in a legal position to do what they've announced to the media and we'll certainly be working hard to avert the stand-downs which the company are proposing.

"We believe the stand-downs to be unnecessary, avoidable, but more critically, the stand-downs represent some very significant threat to the supply chain to this company which has to be protected."

Toyota Australia spokesman Glenn Campbell said the carmaker had kept workers and unions informed.

"We have been talking to our people, our suppliers, our dealers and the unions and keeping them informed of the latest information. We are talking about a small amount of parts," he said.

"We'd be very happy to hear from the unions if they have identified suitable alternative options that would enable us to maintain our production rate but at this stage, we do need to move to a reduced production rate for May."

The union says for every one Toyota job affected by the production cut, seven to nine jobs could be affected among local parts suppliers.

Mr Campbell agrees with the union that there will be a flow-on effect.

"We are very conscious that many of these suppliers experienced difficult conditions during the global financial crisis, but Toyota Australia has a very strong relationship with its suppliers and we'll be working very closely with them to minimise the impact of this reduction on their business," he said.

Toyota says production levels for July will be announced in June. The union will meet with Toyota on Monday.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/04/15/3192075.htm?section=business


April 14, 2011

Toyota Has No Plans To Relocate More Production To USA!

Toyota (NYSE:TM) Has No Plans To Relocate

By Charles Winget on April 14, 2011, 1:25 pm

Production in Japan alone accounts for 43 percent of Toyota’s global production last year. In North America, where Toyota produces nearly 20 percent of its total output, the company said it would impose a series of one-day shutdowns at its North American plants from April 15-25. “Therefore at the moment, we have no plans of relocating the production activities going on in Japan to other parts of the world. In terms of our capacity, already out of 7 million units we produce worldwide, 4 million out of that 7 million are produced outside of Japan in overseas operations and therefore we would like to maintain 3 million, which is currently produced in Japan, to be continued to be produced in Japan” he said.

Shortage

While the shortage of parts due to the Japanese quake has caused the shutdown of many plants across the globe, it was reported that Toyota Motor Corporation (NYSE:TM) Indonesia is not yet affected. A statement from the marketing director said that the company has not stopped its production due to the parts unavailability. Joko Trisanyoto, Toyota Motor Corporation (NYSE:TM) Astra Motor Marketing Director, said that, “No clear numbers have been provided from our principal manufacturers yet. There is no news of such a possibility (production halt)”. There likely will be enough disruption in the supply chain in the first half of 2011 to hit the earnings of auto manufacturers and their direct suppliers. The Japan disaster has revealed a yawning gulf in the JIT manufacturing strategy — part of which gained fame in the auto industry as “The Toyota Way”. The concept of lean inventories and tight coordination with suppliers is great — until there is significant disruption in the supply chain.

Operations Cut

Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker, has seen its operations cut by 260,000 since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami led to the deaths of more than 12,700 people, turn over industry, damaged infrastructure, and made living and working conditions complicated for millions throughout Japan. In Tokyo the Toyota Motor corp. announced on Friday that all the assembly lines will begin rolling again for Toyota Motor Corp. beginning April 18, but only for a limited time and at less than full capacity.

http://dailynewspulse.com/toyota-nysetm-has-no-plans-to-relocate/2218969/


April 12, 2011

Feds Investigate Toyota Air Bag Incident -- Detroit News

By David Shepardson
Apr. 11, 2011

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has agreed to review a petition claiming the frontal airbag of a 2008 Toyota Corolla failed to deploy during a crash.

The agency said in a statement on its website that it received a petition that "the frontal air bags in their MY 2008 Corolla failed to deploy during a 55-mph frontal impact with a large animal (a deer). During this crash, neither the driver nor front passenger was seriously injured in the incident."

NHTSA is reviewing complaints of air bag nondeployment on 2008 Corollas and peer vehicles as well as other crash data.

Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said the company is cooperating with NHTSA and has not received its request for information.

NHTSA has also been investigating air bags that failed to deploy in Ford F-150 vehicles.

NHTSA has reports of 269 air bag deployments and 98 injuries from 2004-06 F-150 vehicles. Injuries include chipped teeth, fractured arms and burns.

In February, the Dearborn automaker said it would recall 144,000 F-150 trucks over concerns raised by the government that air bags could deploy without warning. But that's just a fraction of the 1.3 million vehicles that NHTSA asked Ford to recall in a Jan. 26 letter.

Last week, NHTSA said talks are continuing over the issue.

April 11, 2011

After Japan Earthquake, Toyota Faces Credit Ratings Cut

By Alex Kingsbury

Posted: April 11, 2011

Moody’s, the international credit ratings agency, has placed its rating of Japanese car maker Toyota under review in the wake of the massive earthquake that struck the island nation last month.

Last week, the carmaker announced that production at most of its domestic and North American factories would remain suspended, as it has since the earthquake in March.

The ratings agency said that the carmaker’s profits will likely be impacted by the quake, an estimate that seems reasonable, given that almost a third of the company’s business comes from the domestic Japanese market.

The quake, and the devastating tsunami that followed, came after the company’s massive recall of more than 12 million cars over the past 18 months. Quality control of its cars was also a factor in Moody’s consideration, the ratings giant said. The company’s share price has dropped 10 percent since early March.

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2011/04/11/after-japan-earthquake-toyota-faces-credit-ratings-cut


April 01, 2011

Toyota Still Hiding Defects From Americans?

Toyota Reaches Deal Over Handling of Source Code in Suits -- Bloomberg

Mar. 31, 2011

Toyota Motor Corp. and lawyers suing the automaker over alleged unintended sudden acceleration reached an accord on how to handle evidence involving the source code Toyota uses in its vehicles, a lawyer said.

“We do have an agreement,” said Mark Robinson, one of the lead lawyers for the plaintiffs in the consolidated federal lawsuits in Santa Ana, Calif. “The judge has approved the plan between Toyota and the plaintiffs to allow us access to Toyota’s source code with security protection given to Toyota.”

Access to the source code for Toyota’s electronic throttle-control system has been an obstacle in moving the first of the hundreds of cases involved to trial by early 2013, U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna has said.

Selna, who is overseeing the case, today ordered the details of the agreement sealed.

The two sides have been wrestling for several months over how the plaintiffs’ attorneys and their experts can analyze the source code for the automaker’s electronic system, which the plaintiffs have said in court papers is critical to determining whether it played a part in alleged sudden acceleration.

“Toyota is pleased to have reached an agreement on a source code protective order that ensures the security and strict confidentiality of this invaluable intellectual property,” Celeste Migliore, a spokeswoman for Toyota Motor Sales USA in Torrance, Calif., said in a statement.

The Japanese automaker has cited in court papers a report by NASA, the U.S. space agency that conducted an analysis of possible electronics defects for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in which there were no findings of electronic defects in connection with sudden acceleration in the vehicles they analyzed.


April 01, 2011

Toyota to Raise Prices on Most Models -- Detroit Free Press

By David Shepardson
Apr. 1, 2011

The U.S. Treasury Department plans to raise $5 billion when auto and mortgage lender Ally Financial Inc. launches an initial public offering in the coming months, The Detroit News has learned.

Ally filed the paperwork Thursday to launch an IPO. The Securities and Exchange Commission must approve the nearly 500-page prospectus before the company can go public, likely in a few months.

Ally, one of the world's largest automotive financial services companies, will first have to mount a road show to sell the offering to investors.

The Treasury Department, which owns a controlling 74 percent stake in Detroit-based Ally Financial as part of a $17.2 billion bailout, said it has agreed to be named the selling shareholder.

Treasury will retain the right to decide whether to participate in the IPO and at what level.

The government also owns $5.9 billion of mandatorily convertible preferred stock.

Ally won't price the stock or disclose how many shares it plans to sell until just before the company goes public.

A person briefed on the matter said only Treasury is expected to sell shares, not other owners such as General Motors Co., which holds a 9.9 percent stake in Ally.

With the $2.7 billion in new proceeds, Treasury will have received about $4.9 billion in returns from Ally to date, including $2.2 billion in dividends and interest.

The company reported a $1.1 billion profit in 2010.

Citi, Goldman, Sachs & Co., J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley are advising Ally on its initial public offering.

With more than $172 billion in assets as of Dec. 31, 2010, Ally operates as a bank holding company.

Ally also has mortgage operations and commercial finance, and the company's subsidiary, Ally Bank, offers retail banking products through its online arm.

Ally, which was known as GMAC Inc. until last year, was founded by GM more than 90 years ago as its in-house finance arm. It sold a 51 percent stake in the company in 2006 to Cerberus Capital Management LP in a $7.4 billion deal.

Ally will need to reassure investors that it has a stable relationship with GM, which last year acquired a subprime financing company AmeriCredit and renamed it GM Financial to form the basis of a captive finance arm.

Ally said it raised its percentage of new car lending to 9.9 percent in 2010, up from 6.1 percent, to jump from third highest to the leading auto lender.


March 29, 2011

Toyota Failed to Warn of Acceleration Risk, Lawyer Says -- Bloomberg

Mar. 29, 2011

Toyota Motor Corp. failed to warn a Long Island, New York, driver that his vehicle could unexpectedly accelerate, said a lawyer for a doctor who claims his 2005 Scion sped up uncontrollably and didn't stop until he hit a tree.

Toyota, the world's largest automaker, recalled millions of U.S. vehicles, starting in 2009, for defects related to sudden unintended acceleration. Amir Sitafalwalla's lawsuit, filed in 2008, is the first such claim against Toyota to reach a jury trial in the U.S. since the recalls.

"An accident did not simply happen," Sitafalwalla's lawyer, George N. Statfeld of Manhattan, said in his opening statement Monday in federal court in Central Islip on Long Island. "An accident was caused by the negligence" of Toyota.

"As soon as he attempted to place the vehicle in park -- voom -- it took off," Statfeld told jurors and U.S. Magistrate Judge E. Thomas Boyle, who is presiding over the case.

Toyota is facing hundreds of lawsuits claiming lost vehicle value or personal injuries caused by incidents of sudden unintended acceleration. Sitafalwalla claims the automaker knew its vehicles could unintentionally speed up, leaving drivers at risk for accidents and injuries. Sitafalwalla, an emergency room physician, was injured in the October 2005 accident in the driveway of his Port Washington, New York, home.

Claim disputed

The company disputes Sitafalwalla's claim that there was a defect in his Scion or that any flaws caused the accident. Sitafalwalla's vehicle wasn't among those recalled.

"We're here because Toyota Motor Sales firmly believes that there was no defect in this car," Toyota attorney Brian Crosby said in his opening statement. Evidence will show that Sitafalwalla "mistakenly put his foot on the accelerator and not on the brake," Crosby told jurors.

Toyota began a series of recalls in September 2009, announcing that 3.8 million vehicles were being recalled because of a defect that may cause floor mats to jam down the accelerator pedal. In January 2010, the company recalled 2.3 million vehicles to fix sticking gas pedals.

The carmaker, based in Toyota City, Japan, said last month that it's recalling another 2.17 million vehicles in the U.S. for carpet and floor-mat flaws that could jam gas pedals.

Wave of litigation

The recalls set off a wave of litigation, including suits by Toyota owners claiming alleged defects leading to sudden acceleration cost a massive loss in the value of their vehicles and claims by individuals or their families of injuries and deaths caused by such incidents.

Most of the federal lawsuits were combined before U.S. District Judge James V. Selna in Santa Ana, California, who is organizing the litigation and overseeing pre-trial evidence-gathering, or discovery. Selna has been pushing to have the first cases before him go to trial in early 2013.

Sitafalwalla's suit, which was filed before the recalls, wasn't sent to Selna. Many of the lawsuits claim that loose floor mats and sticky pedals don't explain all episodes of sudden acceleration and that the electronic throttle system in Toyota vehicles is to blame.

Toyota has disputed any flaws in its electronic throttle control system. Last month, NASA, the U.S. space agency, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said their probe of possible electronics defects found no causes for unintended acceleration other than sticking accelerator pedals and floor mats that jammed the pedals.

'Faulty' system

Sitafalwalla claims in court papers that Toyota failed to correct a "faulty electronic throttle system" or "faulty floor mat components." Sitafalwalla also claims Toyota knew of prior incidents like his and should have installed a "failsafe braking system to override any sudden unintended acceleration."

Statfeld told jurors Monday that Sitafalwalla's accident had three possible causes: the electronic throttle-control system caused the acceleration; the driver-side floor mat pushed onto the accelerator; or Toyota failed to install a brake-override system.

Defense lawyer Crosby, of Gibson, McAskill & Crosby in Buffalo, told the jury that the only way the car could go into a wide open throttle as it did was for the driver to apply the accelerator and not have his or her foot on the brake. A brake override system only works when the brake is applied, which it wasn't in this case, he said.

No malfunction

Celeste Migliore, a Toyota spokeswoman, said in an e-mail statement Monday that "while we sympathize with anyone involved in an accident in one of our vehicles, Toyota intends to defend itself vigorously against Dr. Sitafalwalla's unintended acceleration claim. We are confident that the evidence will show there was no electrical or mechanical malfunction of his vehicle's electronic throttle control or braking systems, and that his claims of pedal entrapment cannot be substantiated."

If the jury finds Toyota liable, it will hear evidence on what, if any, damages should be awarded.


March 23, 2011

Toyota Plaintiffs Challenge NASA Sudden-Acceleration Report

By Bill Callahan - Mar 21, 2011 10:19 PM CT

Lawyers representing hundreds of people suing Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) over incidents of sudden acceleration challenged a NASA report that found electronic flaws weren’t the cause of problems that resulted in the recall of thousands of vehicles.

Plaintiffs’ experts will contradict the findings in the NASA report, conducted for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and will prove Toyota’s electronic throttle control system is the cause of sudden acceleration, lawyers said in court papers filed last week in Santa Ana, California, Federal Court.

Toyota, based in Toyota City, Japan, urged U.S. District Judge James V. Selna to take judicial notice of the findings. The NASA conclusions could then be used by Toyota as factually true during trials that are scheduled to begin in 2013.

“Toyota asks this court to take judicial notice of findings and conclusions by NASA and NHTSA that are hotly disputed in this litigation,” Steve Berman, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, wrote. “If this court took judicial notice of the disputed findings and conclusions, plaintiffs would be barred from challenging them in this litigation.”

NASA concluded in the Feb, 8 report that incidents of unintended sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles were rooted in mechanical flaws such as sticking accelerator pedals and floor mats that jammed the pedals or were caused by driver error.

Electronics Systems

The findings were cited in Toyota’s court filings and news releases to support the automaker’s contention that its electronics systems weren’t at fault in hundreds of reported cases of sudden acceleration.

The NASA study wasn’t expansive enough because engineers reviewed 280,000 lines of computer code from a total of 8 million in the automaker’s electronic systems, the plaintiffs said.

The plaintiffs also cited crystalline structures that emanate from tinned surfaces, known as “tin whiskers,” as a new cause of the unintended acceleration.

The microscopic particles “can create catastrophic problems in electronic components,” the plaintiffs said. “Tin whiskers were implicated in the complete failure of three in-orbit commercial satellites,”

The cases are combined as In re Toyota Motor Corp. Unintended Acceleration Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, 8:10-ml-02151, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana).

To contact the reporter on this story: Bill Callahan in San Diego at callahan@san.rr.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-22/toyota-plaintiffs-challenge-nasa-sudden-acceleration-report.html



March 21, 2011

Alert - More Toyota and Lexus Vehicle Recalls? Brake Problem

Consumer Alert - More Toyota and Lexus Vehicle Recalls

The Toyota and Lexus Anti-lock Braking System Recall

In February of 2010, Toyota Motor Corporation announced its third major powertrain-related vehicle recall in the past several months—this recall was for faulty anti-lock brake software in Toyota Prius and Lexus HS 250h models. The anti-lock brake system, or ABS, is an electronic system that
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 12:45 pm    Post subject: Tran. Sec. LaHood tells Toyota drivers to stop driving Reply with quote

Transportation Secretary LaHood tells recalled Toyota drivers to stop driving

February 3, 1:45 PM Detroit Business Development Examiner Rick Weaver

The government has once again intruded in the American automotive industry with a statement Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made before a House Appropriations subcommittee. LaHood said to the owners of recalled Toyotas, ""stop driving it. Take it to a Toyota dealer because they believe they have a fix for it."

Toyota has recently suspended sales on 9 models following two recalls, which Toyota claims are separate issues. Like most areas, most of Detroit's Toyota dealers have run out of models to sell until the fix is available and mechanics are trained to install the part.

This is an unprecedented statement that could, if his advice is followed, have a huge negative impact on the drivers and Toyota drivers and dealers.

International implications

It is not an exaggeration to think this could have international implications. During "Cash for Clinkers" the Japanese government sought assurances from the US that the program would not be limited to the Big 3 American manufacturers. When Japan began their own C4C program, they initially limited to their domestic makes, later including American cars after pressure from our government.

As partial owners in General Motors and Chrysler, discrediting Toyota to the degree as expressed in LaHood's words could be seen as a conflict of interest in the international community. GM and Chrysler would stand to gain significantly if Toyota market share were to drop because of lessened consumer impression due to the secretary's remarks and both would certainly pick up sales, along with Ford, during the period of the controversy.

LaHood's words

The word selection of Hood shows a lack of confidence in Toyota management. Skepticism already is growing due to the failure of Toyota to recognize the problem when the initial floor mat issue was raised. Having a fix so quickly is also a blow to confidence in the automaker as people wonder if such a simple, untested solution, will work.
His words that Toyota "believes they have a fix" indicates he does not necessarily agree.

It was a stark increase in remarks he delivered earlier in the day that drivers should "exercise caution until repairs can be made." This change to harsher words will lead conspiracy thinkers to wonder if it is part of a plot by the "government owned two" to boost their sales.

Dealer/driver implications

If massive numbers of Toyotas are returned to dealers storage issues could surface quickly. Drivers will also be inconvenienced seeking other transportation. Although Fox Toyota in Rochester says Toyota will supply temporary rental cars at the manufacturer's expense, there is a limit to the number of cars available before straining the rental car business.

Given the high market share of Toyota and vehicles involved, a mass return by owners could cause chaos far beyond the dealers' lots.
Note: Despite calls to several Detroit area Toyota dealers, none were ready to discuss LaHood's remarks.

http://www.examiner.com/x-18664-Detroit-Business-Development-Examiner~y2010m2d3-Transportation-Secretary-LaHood-tells-recalled-Toyota-drivers-to-stop-driving




As Toyota stumbles, schadenfreude (scene of carnage) lurks

U.S. automakers, long dogged by reliability issues, stand to gain from recall
By Allison Linn
Senior writer

updated 10:49 a.m. CT, Thurs., Feb. 4, 2010

Between the severity of Toyota’s safety problems and the company’s slow response in addressing them, there’s no doubt the Japanese automaker has bungled its approach to a spate of safety issues.

The latest problem came to light Thursday, when Toyota acknowledged design problems with the brakes on its highly touted Prius hybrid. F or months, drivers in the U.S. and Japan had been complaining about braking problems in the new, third-generation Prius.

Still, even though Toyota's problems are self-inflicted, the company isn’t exactly getting any help from its friends in the United States. Some of them may be feeling a bit of glee over the Japanese company's woes, which come after a disastrous year for the industry that saw both General Motors and Chrysler file for bankruptcy protection.

As Toyota widened a massive recall over unintended acceleration issues last month, Ford and GM began offering $1,000 bonuses to customers who wanted to trade in their Toyotas, openly using the crisis to win back market share they have been losing for decades to their overseas rival.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood chimed in this week, saying Toyota officials were "a little safety deaf" and then warning Americans not to drive the recalled cars. He later backtracked but said the Obama administration would "hold Toyota's feet to the fire."

“The American auto industry has always had the quality bogeyman on its back, and this is a way to kind of level the playing field,” said George E. Hoffer, an economics professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who has studied auto recalls extensively.

For years, U.S. automakers have been the ones fighting a reputation for being less reliable than their Japanese counterparts, with the best-known recalls generally involving U.S. cars such as Ford Explorers with tire problems.

Toyota until now has enjoyed a sterling reputation for safety and reliability, but ironically that could be making a bad situation worse.

“This is what’s going to hurt Toyota: They have been held to a higher standard,” Hoffer said.

Toyota has recalled 8.1 million vehicles worldwide over concerns that accelerator pedals can get stuck in a depressed position. Hoping to contain the damage, the company halted production and ordered dealers temporarily to stop selling popular models including the Camry and the Corolla.

Toyota is shipping dealers a small steel part that it says will stop the the friction behind the problem once the part is inserted into the accelerator mechanism.

As Toyota stumbles, U.S. carmakers have a golden opportunity to demonstrate their value after the industry's humiliating bailout at the height of last year's economic crisis. GM and Ford already saw double-digit sales gains in January, while Toyota's U.S. sales fell to their lowest level in more than a decade.

“It’s the first good news of any great consequence … which has come their way in (years),” said Gerald C. Meyers, a professor of management at the University of Michigan and the former chairman and chief executive of American Motors Corp.

Although LaHood acknowledged that he misspoke Wednesday in his Capitol Hill testimony, there is good reason for him and other officials to be frustrated by Toyota’s response to the gas pedal problems, which many have criticized as slow and confusing to customers.

Still, Meyers said LaHood also probably wants to be seen as aggressive to head off any efforts by Congress to blame his agency for not acting.
Others wonder whether the Obama administration’s involvement in bailing out the U.S. auto industry is playing a role in its reaction.

“The administration is piling on the story,” Hoffer said. “This definitely has taken on a political aura.”

Hoffer notes that there are others who may have an interest in showcasing Toyota’s troubles. They include labor officials upset about the company’s plans to close the NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing Inc.) plant in Fremont, Calif., and politicians who see the rise of the Japanese automaker as playing a key role in job losses and other woes in their districts.

Any hint of schadenfreude is bad news for Toyota, which has enough on its hands with the massive recall.

“This is not going to go away in a week or two or even in a month or two,” said Dennis Virag, president of The Automotive Consulting Group. “It’s going to take years before Toyota could recapture its reputation, if it ever does.”

He sees Ford as being the biggest beneficiary of Toyota’s woes, since it has a product mix that could appeal to Toyota customers, with General Motors also seeing a boost.

“It’s an intensely competitive industry and manufacturers don’t let you forget other manufacturers’ problems, because it puts them in a favorable competitive situation,” Virag said.

Hoffer said his research has shown a direct correlation between a massive recall and a boost in competitors’ sales.

Still, he said automakers likely will proceed cautiously — in public at least — with any strategy to snag business from Toyota. That’s because most automakers know well that they could end up being the target at some point as well.

“It’s kind of a dangerous game to play, because there but for the grace of God go you,” Hoffer said.
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35224907/ns/business-autos/



Toyota may be fined up to $16.4 million

February 3, 2010

Toyota may be fined up to $16.4 million for recalls that took to long, Dealers fined up to $6k per car sold.

WASHINGTON -- Toyota Motor Corp. faces a possible multimillion-dollar federal fine for failing to issue timely recalls of defective vehicles, a U.S. Transportation Department official said today.

The department, headed by Secretary Ray LaHood, is considering a civil penalty against the automaker, said the official, who asked not to be identified.

Automakers that fail to recall defective vehicles in a timely manner are subject to fines of up to $16.4 million. Toyota had one recall in October and another in January.

“We have not received any official communication from NHTSA so we are unable to comment at this time,” Toyota spokeswoman Cindy Knight said in an e-mail to Automotive News today.

The Transportation official did not respond to questions about the maximum fine being considered or the timing of any decision.

“We're not finished with Toyota and are continuing to review possible defects and monitor the implementation of the recalls,” LaHood said in a statement yesterday.

He said officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration flew to Japan in December “to remind Toyota management about its legal obligations” and followed up in January with a meeting at Transportation Department headquarters in Washington “to insist that they address the accelerator-pedal issue.”

LaHood added: “While Toyota is taking responsible action now, it unfortunately took an enormous effort to get to this point.”

The biggest recall fine to date was $1 million assessed against General Motors, involving windshield-wiper failure in 581,344 Chevrolet Trailblazers, Oldsmobile Bravadas, GMC Envoys and Isuzu Ascenders made in 2002 and 2003, the Transportation official said.

Dealers who knowingly sell a defective vehicle also are subject to possible fines of as much as $6,000 per vehicle. No such fine has ever been imposed, according to Transportation records.

Source: [ Automotive News , Neil Roland ]
http://blog.leasetrader.com/archive/2010/02/03/Toyota-may-be-fined-up-to-16.4-million-for-recalls.aspx



Communications Expert Calls Toyota’s Recall “The Worst-Handled Auto Recall In History”

Toyota’s Digital Disaster

In the Google era, how do you manage a product recall and a public-relations fiasco? Don't do what Toyota's done.

By Matthew Philips | Newsweek Web Exclusive

Feb 3, 2010

If you Google Toyota, among the first things that pop up is an ad slugged "Toyota Recall News." That's accompanied by links to Toyota.com and a Web site about the new Prius. With just a few more clicks, you'll find hundreds of news reports that the car company's faulty accelerators have been linked to 19 deaths.

There are also embarrassing, and somewhat tasteless, online gags like "How to Keep Your Toyota Floor Mat From Killing You." Managing a public-relations disaster isn't what it used to be. Back in 1982, even as people in Chicago were dying of cyanide poisoning from tampered Tylenol bottles, the drugmaker's parent company, Johnson & Johnson, didn't have to worry about Internet message boards inciting panic or fueling rumors and fear-mongering.

The strategy of corporate crisis management hasn't necessarily changed, but in the Google, Twitter, and Facebook era, the execution has. To learn about the new rules of crisis management, NEWSWEEK's Matthew Philips spoke with Gene Grabowski, chair of crisis and litigation practice at Levick Strategic Communications, the same firm that represented pet-food makers and toy manufacturers during 2007 recalls. Excerpts:

Philips: How's Toyota doing?

Grabowski: Badly; so badly, in fact, that I think you'd have to say this has been the worst-handled auto recall in history in terms of the consumer anxiety that persists and the mixed messages that were being sent at the outset. They've started to catch up, especially with Jim Lentz [Toyota's president of U.S. sales] going on the Today Show. But he should've done that a week earlier.

So they've been late to respond?

Definitely. What they did this week, they should've done last. They now look flat-footed. The result has been a slow drip of bad news, which is one of the key things you always talk about avoiding in crisis management. You want to rip off that Band-Aid all at once so you don't have this Chinese water torture that creates this heightening effect.
And now that Toyota has admitted it knew about flaws in the braking system of the Prius, the water torture continues.

"There does seem to be a continual dripping. But Toyota seems to be holding the course and communicating with much more transparency with its dealers and consumers. they're finally getting consistent messages from their dealers that's being managed from headquarters.

That's a good start."

What about search optimization. How can they control what pops up on the Internet?

"They need to own words and phrases like Toyota sucks and Toyota fails. There's a lot of negative and pejorative stuff out there and they seem to be doing a decent job of directing things to their website and controlling the flow of information.

Wouldn't it have been better for the Prius news to have come out a week ago?

"Of course, but I'm going to give Toyota the benefit of the doubt. They're a massive global company that has to deal with cultural and language differences, where messages and efforts have to be synchronized across lots of different platforms. They got off to a very bad start, but I think they're on the right path now. Of course, I may be a contrarian voice here."

They've obviously been combating this online with the Google ad. How much more difficult does the Internet make crisis management?

It's a crucial front, and you have got to be there. With technology evolving the way it is, it does present a challenge, but it's also a tremendous opportunity to join the conversation and engage customers and clients. It would be prudent for Jim Lentz not just to do the Today Show, which is certainly an example of old media, but to get on some of the high-authority auto blogs. This is an age of transparency, and you have to join it.

Was crisis management easier pre-Internet?

Was it easier to manage communications back in 1982 during the Tylenol recall? Yes. But this is Toyota's Tylenol moment, and actions are still what count the most.

What about social media? Should Jim Lentz be tweeting?

I don't think Twitter is the right venue for someone of his stature, but Toyota should be using social media to address this, without question. There are no doubt tons of Toyota Facebook pages and groups already out there. Toyota needs to be posting to them, joining them, and they should probably start an official recall page on Facebook, where engineers could be posting about the solutions they're coming up with. Again, they should be embracing these avenues as ways to get their message out, not running from them.

Globalization hasn't made things easier either, with suppliers based all over the world. How do you manage that when crisis strikes?

The first thing is to acknowledge that it can strike, that no matter how vigilant you are, you no longer have total control over your supply chain, and that from time to time things will go wrong. The absolute worst thing is to say they'll never happen. Consumers can accept that you aren't perfect. What they will not accept is that you're not being transparent, because that then feeds thoughts of willful deception and cover-ups.
So when it comes to a globalized supply chain, when something goes wrong, what do you do?

Well, if it's a supplier problem, then you have to be prudent and find other suppliers. Now, the thing about China is that one supplier can go out of business and another pop up in another province that ends up being the same people. It's a tough situation and requires a lot of diligence.

In 2007, there were two Chinese-based recalls that you helped manage, tainted pet food and toys made with lead paint. You represented pet-food makers and toy manufacturers. How did you advise them to manage those crises?

In the pet-food recall, we knew the two most credible sources of information for pet owners were other pet owners and veterinarians. So we got vets to go on pet blogs and post information that 98 percent of pet food was safe, which mitigated consumer anxiety.

The key with the toy recall was getting to retailers and the mommy blogs and providing them with a protocol that answered people's specific questions about which toys were affected. So that undercut a lot of the gossip and rumors.

Find this article at http://www.newsweek.com/id/232962
http://www.newsweek.com/id/232962?from=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+newsweek%2FTopNews+(UPDATED+-+Newsweek+Top+Stories)



DOT May Slap Toyota With Big Fine

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 6:46PM - By Chris Weiss

It goes without saying that the recall isn’t doing Toyota any favors. Its January sales were down 16 percent, its image for reliable vehicles has been heavily tarnished and it’s faced with millions of vehicles to repair. Now the company may be losing millions in another way: a major fine from the Department of Transportation.

According to an Automotive News report that cites an anonymous source in the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, the department is currently debating whether or not to fine Toyota for its delayed actions in response to the accelerator issue. And it could possibly be a figure with six 0’s at the end.

The maximum fine that could be imposed on Toyota (or other automakers that fail to issue recalls quickly enough) is $16.4 million.

More bad news for Toyota. [Automotive News via AutoBlog]
http://motorcrave.com/dot-may-slap-toyota-with-big-fine/4383/



LaHood: Getting Toyota to recall took "enormous effort," calls automaker "a little safety deaf"

February 2nd, 2010

Filed under: Government/Legal , Japan , Recalls , Toyota Man, when it rains, it absolutely pours . Especially if you’re a carmaker called Toyota and are already embroiled in a credibility-killing ( and sales-smothering ) gas pedal recall plus another for defective floor mats .

According to the Detroit Free Press , none other than U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has absolutely blasted the Japanese giant, calling it “a little safety deaf” and noting he was upset that NHTSA officials had to fly to Japan “to remind Toyota management about its legal obligations.”

That’s just the tip of the spear stuff, too. Check out the shaft: Since questions were first raised about possible safety defects, we have been pushing Toyota to take measures to protect consumers.

While Toyota is taking responsible action now, it unfortunately took an enormous effort to get to this point. We’re not finished with Toyota and are continuing to review possible defects and monitor the implementation of the recalls.

To paraphrase L.A. Confidential’s Captain Dudley Smith, we wouldn’t trade places with Toyota right now for all the whiskey in Ireland. Still, we find the timing of Secretary LaHood’s comments a little odd. Here’s what we mean: the NHTSA official that flew to Japan to verbally beat on Toyota did so in December. And while Toyota seems to have behaved badly at first, the company has found an unobjectionable solution (according to the safety agency) to its gas pedal problem.

So, why whip on ‘em today? Could it have something to do with next week’s Congressional inquiry scheduled to begin on February 10?
Original Source of LaHood: Getting Toyota to recall took "enormous effort," calls automaker "a little safety deaf"

http://www.autocardeal.com/sport-car-news/lahood-getting-toyota-to-recall-took-enormous-effort-calls-automaker-a-little-safety-deaf.html



GM News:

Chevy Cruze finalist for World Car of the Year, Camaro finalist for World Car Design of the Year
The World Car Awards announced that Chevrolet Cruze is a finalist for the prestigious World Car of the Year Award, and the Camaro is a finalist for the World Car Design of the Year award. The winners will be announced at the New York International Auto Show on Thursday, April 1.

The Cruze is one of 10 finalists for the World Car of the Year award, as selected by a jury of 59 international automotive journalists, based on their experience with each candidate as part of their professional work. The jury members constitute a balance of representation from Asia, Europe, North America, South America, as well as other parts of the world.

The jurors' next step is to re-evaluate the "top ten" cars, in preparation for a final round of voting in February. They will specifically rate each vehicle in terms of overall merit, value, safety, environmental responsibility, emotional appeal, and significance.

"Being a finalist for the World Car of the Year confirms the momentum behind Cruze," says Jim Campbell, Chevrolet general manager. "More than 125,000 customers in Asia and Europe have already chosen the all-new Cruze. That strong acceptance on the world stage makes us confident that Cruze will be successful here in the U.S. as well when it goes on sale in the third quarter of this year."
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The Chevrolet Camaro is one of four finalists for the World Car Design of the Year, as selected by a jury of five design experts from around the world. The 59 World Car Awards jurors will now vote on the experts' design recommendations.
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GM Tests Show Vibe Brakes Can Stop Unintended Acceleration
GM has tested two Pontiac Vibe SUVs and found the brakes stop the vehicle in case of unintended acceleration.

The 2009-10 Pontiac Vibe, a sister vehicle of the Toyota Matrix, is included in two Toyota recalls related to unintended acceleration, one for sticking accelerator pedals and one for possible floor mat entrapment. The Vibe was designed, engineered and manufactured by Toyota through August 2009 at New United Motor Manufacturing, which was a GM-Toyota joint venture.

“We ran the Vibe wide open at 60 miles an hour and the brakes were able to bring the vehicle to a safe stop within 169 meters, consistent with our internal requirement for brake performance.” said Martin Hogan, GM director of brake systems.
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In the Media
Auto Recall Rules May be Tightened by NHTSA
Safety advocates say government regulators may take a more urgent and tougher position on recalls, following Toyota's callback of millions of vehicles, reports The Detroit News.

Automakers have often resisted recalls, acting only when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is poised to order them. At other times, they have fought them off completely or argued to scale them back.

But after Toyota's two recalls linked to sudden acceleration -- 5.4 million vehicles linked to floor mats and 2.3 million to sticky gas pedals -- things may change for good for NHTSA as well as for the automakers.

NHTSA is considering issuing civil penalties in Toyota's handling of the back-to-back recalls. It also is likely that the agency will act more quickly to enforce future "stop sales," like the one ordered by Toyota, if automakers don't have a fix.

"I think that NHTSA has been stung by (the Toyota recalls) and they should be. They have been behind the eight ball and haven't used the authority given to them," said former NHTSA administrator Joan Claybrook.

Read more here: http://detnews.com/article/20100202/AUTO01/2020330&template=printart
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New Socrates Poll: "Let Us Know”
Check out the new online poll, "Let Us Know" located on Socrates under the "In the Media" box on the left side of the page.

This new survey tool asks two questions and provides a quick employee opinion pulse about GM and our business. Once you submit your opinion you'll see an immediate update on the current results. Two questions were posted yesterday afternoon, one about GM's business plan and another about quality. Check it out now to provide your input and to see the current status. To keep the survey results credible, you will be eligible to answer each question one time. When the questions reset each week, you will be eligible to answer again.

GM uses many tools to find out what's on the minds of employees, like Answer Me Now,the myGM Employee Blog,as well as online surveys.

“Each of the tools help us learn what employees are thinking and it helps us to identify where we need to do a better job of getting information out - if we get a ton of questions on a topic we know we've got to follow up with additional or more effective communication,” explains Cheryl McCarron, GM Communications.

Check back every week to find new questions and to see the results. If you have an idea for a question to be used on "Let Us Know", you can submit it through Answer Me Now - just click on the category, "Let Us Know" question for consideration.
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Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac Retail Sales Up 3 Percent – Total Sales for These Brands Up 30 Percent
U.S. dealers for GM’s brands – Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac – reported retail sales of 102,420, up 3 percent compared to January 2009, and 145,098 total sales (up 30 percent). These results were driven by the continued strong growth of new GM crossovers and passenger cars. For the month, GM dealers reported 146,825 total sales (including other brands), representing a total sales increase of 14 percent from the previous year.

“This is the fourth month in a row that Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac have shown a collective year-over-year retail sales increase,” said Susan Docherty, GM vice president, Sales, Service and Marketing. “Our long-term plan to continue to focus and strengthen our brands is delivering results.”
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2010 World Car of the Year Award: Opel/Vauxhall Insignia and Buick Regal Also Named to the Top Ten List
In addition to the Chevrolet Cruze and Camaro (a finalist for the World Car Design of the Year award), the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia and Buick Regal have made the top 10 list of global vehicles selected for the 2010 World Car of the Year Award.

“We’re thrilled with the global recognition the Insignia and Regal in China continues to receive,” said Jim Federico, global vehicle line executive and chief engineer for the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia and Buick Regal. “The 2011 Buick Regal, which goes on sale in the U.S. later this spring, will bring all of Insignia’s award-winning design, technology and European-inspired performance capabilities to the American market.”
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NFL Outreach Event in Little Haiti
The NFL is reaching out to Haiti – that is Miami Dolphins players, wide receiver Davone Bess and offensive lineman Donald Thomas; San Francisco 49ers Ricky Jean Francois; Seattle Seahawks Brandon Frye; Cleveland Browns WR Mike Furrey – and will visit the Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center to meet with community members, including high school football players from Miami Edison Senior High School section of Little Haiti.

Players will receive a tour of the Center and discuss the ways the South Florida Haitian community has been impacted by the recent earthquake in Haiti. Players will bring donated items from NFL partners, including Gatorade, McArthur Towels, Outerstuff, Papa John’s, and Reebok.

Additionally, GM will be sending 30 GMC trucks to Haiti to aid in relief efforts on the island. Some of these trucks, packed with relief supplies, will be staged outside the Sant La Neighborhood Center before heading to Haiti.
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Ed Whitacre Drives Volt and Equinox Fuel Cell EV at Tech Center
Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre and special adviser Steve Girsky visited the Tech Center campus in Warren, Mich. yesterday and drove the Chevrolet Volt and Equinox Fuel Cell electric vehicles.

"I can talk with some knowledge about that [Volt], it's pretty important," said Whitacre. "I can say I've driven it, and it's nice . . . roomy - that's neat."

Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, Global Electric Vehicle executive Doug Parks, Volt vehicle chief engineer Andrew Farah and others showed Ed and Steve around.
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Flint Assembly Adds Regular Cab Light Duty Pickup
Flint Assembly and UAW Local 598 leadership announced Monday that GM approved the addition of the regular cab light duty pickup to the crew cab version that was announced last year. The production timetable for the regular cab is the same as the crew cab with validation builds starting in April and regular production starting in July.

Both the regular and crew cab projects will be done under the $21.5-million budget approved by GM last fall. Adding the regular cab at Flint Assembly allows it to be flex linked with Fort Wayne Assembly and better meet customer demand. Flint Assembly will build Chevy Silverado versions of the regular cab in long box and 2WD and 4WD versions.

Photo: UAW Local 598 Chairman Dana Rouse (yellow shirt) announces the new truck at Flint Assembly
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Documentary on Ohio GM Plant Nominated
A documentary titled, "The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant,"featuring GM's Moraine Ohio Assembly Plant, has earned an Academy Award nomination. The documentary left out all the things GM provided to employees at the time, and it was, unfortunately, a "sign of the times" - demonstrating the struggling auto industry's impact to people and communities over the past couple of years. The 82nd Annual Academy Awards will be presented March 7.
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Toyota Faces Lawsuits, Losses, Congressional Hearings

Posted: Feb. 01, 2010 11:02 a.m.

If last week wasn’t bad enough for Toyota, this week might be. The company plans a media blitz to stem a tide of bad publicity, but it might not be enough, as public reaction to two separate recalls has Toyota’s back to the wall.

Bloomberg reports, “The company's stock plummeted 14 percent last week, the worst five-day performance since October 2008, wiping out 1.9 trillion yen ($21 billion) in market value.”

The embattled company has issued two separate recalls, each involving more than 4 million vehicles, in recent weeks. In the first instance, Toyota called back more than 4.1 million vehicles due to a faulty floormat retainer, which could allow the driver’s side floormat to come loose and trap the accelerator pedal in the depressed position.

In the second, the company recalled another 4.2 million vehicles (some cars are covered by both recalls) due to an accelerator pedal that can stick in the depressed position without a floormat present. Both issues could cause a car to accelerate without driver input.

The company faces a class-action lawsuit from owners. Two law firms, Autoblog reports, “Are joining forces in a bid to sue Toyota's pants off.” Representing owners of Toyotas built between 2005 and 2010, the two firms allege that “as a result of these recalls, Toyota owners lost the use of their vehicles, and sustained, among things, economic losses and severe emotional distress.”

Consumer groups and the automotive press are re-evaluating Toyota’s reputation for high-quality vehicles. Consumer Reports has “temporarily suspended its ‘recommended’ status for eight Toyota vehicle models and one Pontiac model.” The discontinued Pontiac Vibe, we should note, was built by Toyota.

Congress is piling on as well. Edmunds Inside Line reports, “Saying it is concerned by the ‘seriousness and scope’ of Toyota's recalls of vehicles with faulty accelerator pedals, the U.S. House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce subcommittee said Thursday it will hold hearings on February 25 ‘to examine the persistent consumer complaints.’”

What can Toyota do to protect its image? The automaker has already launched a “media blitz,” Bloomberg reports, aimed at rehabilitation. “The automaker ran an informational ad in newspapers today.” The ad portrayed the company’s decision to halt sales and production of eight popular models as a “temporary pause to put you first.” President Akio Toyoda, meanwhile, “Gave a 75-second apology last week in Davos, Switzerland,” at a meeting of world leaders discussing the ongoing recession.

Toyota USA President Jim Lentz appeared on NBC’s Today Show this morning to discuss the recalls. Autoblog reports, “Lentz [gave] the answers you'd expect any exec under siege to give, which is to say we don't learn much that we don't already know.”

Still, some aren’t sure that the company’s efforts will make a difference in public perception. ABC News reports, “Crisis-management experts said Sunday that the recall of millions of cars and trucks isn't the Japanese auto maker's only problem: its message to Toyota owners -- delivered in full-page ads Sunday in 20 major newspapers -- isn't as clear and reassuring as it needs to be.”

Part of the company’s problem may be that the Japanese press doesn’t seem to see the issue the same way the U.S. media has portrayed it.

The Wall Street Journal explains, “In the U.S., Toyota's massive recall and production stoppage is widely portrayed as an embarrassing stumble for a quality-proud giant….Many Japanese newspapers and magazines have portrayed the issue as the resurgence of 1980s-era trade tensions, and hostility to Japanese commerce.”

The Journal cites a quote from the popular Japanese weekly business magazine Toyo Keizai to illustrate the attitude of the Japanese press. “After the collapse of GM, the U.S. auto industry has lost its morale," the magazine says. It continues, “Obama may also move to protect its own auto makers in order to win the mid-term election in fall. One possible misstep by Toyota may lead to further 'Toyota bullying' which may be even more emotional.”

With what we’ve seen so far in the courts, the markets and the Congress, an appearance on The Today Show may not be enough to stop the “Toyota bullying.”

In a study released Wednesday by the auto analysts at CNW Market Research, Kicking Tires reports, “Toyota fell to seventh place for 2010 models -- from second place in 2009 -- among 20 mainstream brands in perceived quality.”

If you're in the market for a new car, check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars as well as this month's best car deals.

http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/daily-news/100201-Toyota-Faces-Lawsuits-Losses-Congressional-Hearings/



Toyota’s Are Potential Death Traps?

View this video:

http://automotive-motion.info/2010/01/31/toyota-recall-jan-21-2010-flv/

FAIR USE NOTICE: This video may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes only. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 USC section 107 of the US Copyright Law. The latest recall, announced Thursday, Jan.21, 2010, affects the RAV4, Corolla, and Matrix models from 2009 and 2010, Avalons from model years 2005 to 2010, Camrys from 2007 to 2010, the 2010 Highlander, the 2007 to 2010 Tundra and the 2008 to 2010 Sequoias. About 1.7 million of the vehicles cited are also affected by the earlier recall. The company says this action is separate from fall’s recall of 4.2 million cars to replace floor mats and alter accelerator pedals. The company had blamed floor mats for many of the acceleration incidents. An ABC News investigation, however, found that many drivers and safety experts rejected this explanation, asking instead if there was an issue with the electronic components that control acceleration. Toyota says the recall of the “sticking gas pedals” covers Haggerty’s problem, but he says his gas pedal was never stuck. In its statements, Toyota does not claim the “sticking gas pedal” recall is a complete fix and says it will continue to investigate other incidents of unwanted acceleration, including those cited by ABC News. STORY: abcnews.go.com



February 1, 2010

Toyota’s Slow Awakening to a Deadly Problem

By BILL VLASIC

DETROIT — The 911 call came at 6:35 p.m. on Aug. 28 from a car that was speeding out of control on Highway 125 near San Diego.

The caller, a male voice, was panic-stricken: “We’re in a Lexus ... we’re going north on 125 and our accelerator is stuck ... we’re in trouble ... there’s no brakes ... we’re approaching the intersection ... hold on ... hold on and pray ... pray ...”

The call ended with the sound of a crash.

The Lexus ES 350 sedan, made by Toyota, had hit a sport utility vehicle, careened through a fence, rolled over and burst into flames. All four people inside were killed: the driver, Mark Saylor, an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer, and his wife, daughter and brother-in-law.

It was the tragedy that forced Toyota, which had received more than 2,000 complaints of unintended acceleration, to step up its own inquiry, after going through multiple government investigations since 2002.

Yet only last week did the company finally appear to come to terms with the scope of the problem — after expanding a series of recalls to cover millions of vehicles around the world, incalculable damage to its once-stellar reputation for quality and calls for Congressional hearings.

With prodding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Toyota halted production and sales of eight models, including its top-selling Camry sedan.

And late last week, the government allowed the company to go ahead to try yet another new fix for its vehicles, which it is expected to announce on Monday.

At almost every step that led to its current predicament, Toyota underestimated the severity of the sudden-acceleration problem affecting its most popular cars. It went from discounting early reports of problems to overconfidently announcing diagnoses and insufficient fixes.

As recently as the fall, Toyota was still saying it was confident that loose floor mats were the sole cause of any sudden acceleration, issuing an advisory to millions of Toyota owners to remove them. The company said on Nov. 2 that “there is no evidence to support” any other conclusion, and added that its claim was backed up by the federal traffic safety agency.

But, in fact, the agency had not signed on to the explanation, and it issued a sharp rebuke. Toyota’s statement was “misleading and inaccurate,” the agency said. “This matter is not closed.”

The effect on Toyota’s business is already being felt. Its sales in the United States in January are expected to drop 11 percent from a year earlier, and its market share in the United States is likely to fall to its lowest point since 2006, according to Edmunds.com, an automotive research Web site.

The company has not yet projected the cost of its recalls and lost sales. But a prolonged slowdown in sales could substantially hurt a company that once minted profit.

Toyota’s handling of the problem is a story of how a long-trusted carmaker lost sight of one of its bedrock principles.

In Toyota lore, the ultimate symbol of the company’s attention to detail is the “andon cord,” a rope that workers on the assembly line can pull if something is wrong, immediately shutting down the entire line. The point is to fix a small problem before it becomes a larger one.

But in the broadest sense, Toyota itself failed to pull the andon cord on this issue, and treated a growing safety issue as a minor glitch — a point the company’s executives are now acknowledging in a series of humbling apologies.

“Every day is a lesson and there is something to be learned,” Yoshimi Inaba, Toyota’s top executive in North America, said at the Detroit auto show in January. “This was a hard lesson.”

In Davos, Switzerland, on Friday, Akio Toyoda, the grandson of Toyota’s founder who now heads the company, told a Japanese broadcaster that he was “deeply sorry” for the problems.

Toyota’s safety problems may prove to be a hard lesson for the N.H.T.S.A., as well. Six separate investigations were conducted by the agency into consumer complaints of unintended acceleration, and none of them found defects in Toyotas other than unsecured floor mats.

In at least three cases, the agency denied petitions for further investigative action because it did not see a pattern of defects and because of a “need to allocate and prioritize N.H.T.S.A.’s limited resources” elsewhere, according to agency documents.

The investigations, and Toyota’s handling of the problem, will be the subject of Congressional hearings.

But the publicity surrounding the accident near San Diego, and Toyota’s repeated inability to quell consumer concerns with a definitive solution, has also prompted a flood of lawsuits reminiscent of the litigation a decade ago arising out of the rollovers of Ford Explorers equipped with Firestone tires.

In addition to cases related to individual accidents, several class-action suits have been filed against Toyota. The cases are expected to focus on why the government and the carmaker were unable to identify problems beyond the floor mats, despite mounting instances of runaway cars.

David Ennis, a Washington lawyer, said he was working on three lawsuits that had been in the works for five months. “Over the last 24 hours, everybody’s a Toyota lawyer now,” he said last week.

Toyota now believes that the trouble with its cars is twofold — a combination of loose floor mats that can interfere with accelerator pedals, and a pedal that itself can stick when a driver depresses it.

Toyota has told its dealers that it will announce its fix for the faulty accelerators on Monday, but has yet to release details. The CTS Corporation, the supplier of the pedals used in recalled models, is making replacement parts. But Toyota is also expected to try to repair or modify the pedals in some vehicles.

Before last August, Toyota had issued three limited recalls to replace floor mats and change an interior part that could catch on accelerator pedals.

But after the fatal crash near San Diego, and the public release of the 911 tape, Toyota was forced to, as it said in the fall, “take a closer look.”
That crash, said Clarence M. Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety in Washington, “was a watershed event.”

“It captured on tape the deaths of four people in an uncontrolled acceleration where the driver was an experienced highway patrol officer,” he said. “If he couldn’t bring the car under control, who could?”
A lawyer for the Saylor family said he wished that the federal government had acted more quickly about concerns over the sudden acceleration.

“They’re clearly starting to become more interested in the problem and more attentive to it,” said the lawyer, John Gomez, of San Diego. “Do I wish they would have done more sooner? Obviously.”

In one federal inquiry on Toyota models built from 2002 to 2005, investigators found that 20 percent of the 432 complaints studied involved “sudden or unintended acceleration.”

But no defects were uncovered in any of the vehicles, and the rate of incidents was considered “unremarkable” in the context of the millions of cars on the road.

The petitioner in that case, Jordan Ziprin of Phoenix, said the regulators had focused exclusively on mechanical issues with his car, a 2002 Camry.

“I believe this is an electronic issue, but they have been avoiding that possibility entirely,” Mr. Ziprin said in an interview.

Several lawsuits against Toyota also suggest that the company’s electronic system could be at fault.

A Toyota spokesman said the company had looked extensively at its computerized electronic throttle system, which controls the speed of its cars, and had found no faults.

“If we found anything, we would take appropriate action,” said the spokesman, Mike Michels. “But we continue to think it’s entirely unlikely that an electronic malfunction is the cause.”

A lawyer for a California man whose wife died in a 2007 crash of a Camry said the company was avoiding a potentially more pervasive problem by focusing on mats and stuck pedals, rather than its electronics.
“There are thousands of these complaints, and we’re not seeing floor mats and we’re not seeing stuck throttles,” said the lawyer, Donald H. Slavik, of Milwaukee. The traffic safety agency “simply doesn’t have the resources to analyze the electronic systems of these cars.”

The agency, which is part of the Transportation Department, has stepped up its oversight of Toyota drastically since the fatal accident that involved the Saylor family.

Agency officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case was still being investigated, say their responsibility is to identify defects in autos, not to develop remedies to fix them. That responsibility, these officials said, rests with the automaker.

Many complaints by consumers were eliminated by the agency during its investigations because of possible driver error, or the lack of sufficient information about the circumstances of the incidents.

The agency separated braking problems from acceleration issues, further narrowing the number of complaints that could be linked to a faulty pedal or an electronic malfunction. Cases involving brief periods of acceleration were also considered separately from those that involved prolonged, high-speed incidents, many of which involved accidents.

Sean Kane, whose consulting firm, Safety Research and Strategies, counts plaintiffs’ lawyers among its clients, contends that the agency did not push Toyota for more data, and too quickly accepted the company’s explanations about floor-mat problems.

“The agency has not been very forceful with Toyota at all,” Mr. Kane said. The agency “always took the low-hanging fruit for an explanation, which is the floor mat.”

The discussions between federal officials and Toyota intensified in December, when the acting chief of the agency, Ronald Medford, flew to Japan to hold meetings with senior company executives, according to a government official with knowledge of the trip who was not authorized to speak publicly.

On Jan. 19, two days before the recall for the sudden-acceleration problem, Mr. Inaba of Toyota met in Washington with Mr. Medford and the new head of the agency, David Strickland.

The mounting number of complaints and accidents has led the agency to be more outspoken than it usually is during continuing investigations.

Last week, the transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, said in an interview with a Chicago radio station that Toyota had halted production of recalled vehicles “because we asked them to.”

Indeed, Toyota had to be told by regulators to shut down production and suspend sales of the cars and trucks in the latest recall until it had the parts necessary to fix them. It was yet another example of a slow response from a company long known for its meticulous approach to building cars and servicing customers.

Mr. Michels, the Toyota spokesman, said the company never before had to halt production or stop selling millions of vehicles involved in a recall.
“It’s not a typical case,” he said. “Usually in a ‘stop sale’ it’s a very small quantity.”

In its attempts to play down the problem, Toyota may have raised more doubts among consumers.

“It thinks it can control this crisis, and in the process has thrown its own credibility out the window,” said Mr. Kane, the safety consultant whose firm has documented thousands of reports of unintended acceleration.

Some owners of recalled Toyotas are now saying they are afraid to drive them. “I live only a half mile from the office and I drive there,” said Elaine Byrnes, a Camry owner in Los Angeles. “If I had to go farther, I wouldn’t consider it.”

And the scrutiny of Toyotas will not end with its new plan to replace the pedals. Accidents are receiving swift attention from federal regulators.
On Dec. 26, a 2008 Toyota Avalon — one of the cars under recall — crashed just outside of Dallas. A police officer in Southlake, Tex., Roderick Page, said in an interview that “for undetermined reasons, the vehicle left the main roadway, and went through a metal pipe fence, striking a tree and causing the vehicle to flip and land upside down in a pond.”

All four people in the car died. “There was no evidence that they attempted to hit the brake or slow down,” he said. “Honestly, my reaction is, ‘Wow.’ ”

Two weeks later, an investigator from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration visited Southlake to inspect the car, accompanied by a Toyota engineer. Mr. Page said one factor they immediately ruled out was the floor mats, which were in the trunk.
Matt Richtel contributed reporting from San Francisco, Clifford Krauss from Houston and Matthew L. Wald from Washington.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/01/business/01toyota.html?pagewanted=3
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 4:32 pm    Post subject: Toyota's troubles could remake the auto industry Reply with quote

Toyota's troubles could remake the auto industry

Posted: 6:05 a.m. Today

Getting to the top of your game or industry is never easy. It takes vision, dedication, competitive drive, talent and some luck. However, it doesn't take long for a champion to get knocked off the podium.

Toyota, it seems, is having its own Tiger Woods moment. Tiger's reputation was permanently tarnished when his perpetual infidelities were revealed.

Now, Toyota's quality indiscretions are coming to light -- and the public is beginning to question whether the automaker's reputation for quality was ever deserved.

Toyota - known for low-cost manufacturing systems, reliable vehicles, best hybrid technology and loyal customers - had reached the zenith as the world’s largest producer of vehicles.

Suddenly, Toyota’s quality problems and bungled crisis management are threatening to reorder the world rankings of automotive companies.
So why all the fuss about Toyota’s quality problems?

I think there are several reasons:

1. Scale and market position.

Audi was struck with sudden acceleration problems in the 1980s, nearly wiping Audi out of the market. Together with its parent, Volkswagen, Audi had less than 2 percent of the U.S. market, yet the problems and various news reports nearly killed off Audi in the U.S.
But Toyota sells about 16 percent to 17 percent of all new vehicles, according to Ward’s Automotive. The pedal recall affects 5 million Toyotas already on the road. That’s equivalent to about three years of the company’s U.S. sales.

2. Culture.

The American way of mea culpa is so foreign to the Asian culture. Shame or loss of face is handled internally and avoided publicly in most Asian cultures, unlike the prevailing American way of admitting mistakes openly.

Japanese-based top management has been reluctant to speak out, yet Jim Lentz, COO of Toyota Motor Sales USA, has been remarkably unconvincing in his remarks on news programs.

And Akio Toyoda, CEO of Toyota, was virtually invisible until late last week.

This reflects a cultural tendency to withdraw during a time of embarrassment rather than outwardly show contrition.

3. Denial.

Toyota had a massive problem with engine oil sludge affecting some 3.5 million vehicles earlier last decade. Even with this prior experience, Toyota seemingly didn't learn much from its prior experience and has again been in denial of product defects:

• First it’s the floor mats catching under the pedal. Now it’s a mechanical bearing subject to moisture that is to blame. Could it be the electronical control unit? What and who is a Toyota owner to believe?

• Toyota has publicly stated that there are no sudden acceleration related problems with the ECU, the electronic control unit. Yet when local TV stations show what the dealer technicians are doing as part of the recall retrofit, footage shows a laptop being hooked into the ECU port to fix the ECU programs.

• Toyota was quick to point at a supplier as the manufacturer of the faulty pedals. Yet the design and engineering specifications are Toyota’s. And the supplier also works with other vehicle manufacturers that don’t have a sticking pedal problem.

• Given the floor mat recall in November, Toyota has known of the sudden acceleration problems for some time, yet it took pressure from federal officials for Toyota to bring about the latest round of action.

Is this the end of the story?

Not by a longshot. Only time will tell, but right now events at Toyota are like a snowball rolling downhill.

You can bet on a future backlash from carpenters and tradesmen who currently own a Tundra or Tacoma and about zero sales conversions from General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and Nissan pickup truck owners.
Used Toyota values and lease residuals will be dramatically lower. Only time will tell for how much and how long.

Toyota's Japanese headquarters and Toyota USA need to centralize crisis management. The cultures are different; the multiple spokesmen are contradicting one another and confusing the public, particularly Toyota owners.

Toyota's U.S. leadership is trying to say the right thing, but it's coming across as insensitive, insincere and empty.

If Toyota losses pile up, they only have themselves to blame. But it will deeply affect the economic well being of its suppliers and communities around the 14 plants in North America.
http://www.annarbor.com/business-review/what-do-tiger-woods-and-toyota-have-in-common/
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 5:10 pm    Post subject: Many, Many Articles Posted Here | Please Scroll Down Reply with quote

Reports: Toyota plans to recall 300,000 Priuses

Reports: Toyota plans to recall some 300,000 Prius hybrids worldwide over brake problem

By Kelly Olsen, AP Business Writer , On Monday February 8, 2010, 12:36 pm

TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota plans to recall about 300,000 Prius hybrids worldwide over a brake problem and is likely to notify both the U.S. and Japanese governments Tuesday, news reports said, as a top executive will testify before U.S. lawmakers about defects that have tarnished its reputation for quality and safety.

The recall of the gas-electric Prius will cover the latest version of the cars that went on sale from May last year, Kyodo News agency reported late Monday.

Kyodo, which did not identify its sources for the information, said the automaker planned to notify authorities in Japan on Tuesday and probably also in the U.S. on the same day. The recall will cover about 270,000 of the hybrids sold in the two countries -- 170,000 in Japan and 100,000 in the U.S., Kyodo said.

Japan's Nikkei business daily carried a similar report about Toyota's recall plans on its Web site, saying the automaker would notify authorities in Japan on Tuesday and was also likely to do so in the U.S. at about the same time.

Toyota Motor Corp. spokeswoman Ririko Takeuchi said no decision on a Prius recall has been made. Kenji Sugai, an official in Japan's Transport Ministry section in charge of recalls, said it had not been informed of any such plan by Toyota.

The automaker is still weighing its options on how to handle the Prius repairs in the U.S., but it intends to begin fixing them soon, according to a person briefed on the matter who asked not to be identified because the remedy hasn't been made public.

Toyota has said among its options are a service campaign in which owners would be notified to bring their cars in for repairs, or a full-fledged safety recall. Toyota is communicating with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on how to handle the fix.

A service campaign wouldn't have the stigma of a safety recall, but regulators may press for the recall.

The reports follow others in Japanese media recently that the world's largest automaker has decided to announce a recall early this week as a way of regaining damaged consumer trust. Toyota has already recalled more than 7 million other cars for repairs in the U.S. and other countries over a sticky accelerator and floor mats that can get caught in the gas pedal.

The company has consistently only said it will soon announce plans to deal with the braking problem in the Prius.

At least 100 drivers of Prius cars in the U.S. have complained to Washington that their antilock brakes seemed to fail momentarily while driving on bumpy roads. The Japanese government has also received dozens of complaints. The U.S. says the problem is suspected in four crashes that caused two minor injuries.

Toyota says a software glitch is behind the problem. The company says it has already fixed vehicles that went on sale since last month. It has also said that the brakes will work if the driver keeps pushing the pedal.
The Prius is the world's top-selling gas-electric hybrid and its fuel efficiency has drawn intense interest amid concerns about global warming and dependence on fossil fuels.

Toyota has sold a little more than 300,000 of the vehicles in about 60 countries since May, according to the company -- and any recall was likely to eventually affect most of those cars.

Kyodo also reported that recalls and other measures in other countries will follow those in Japan and the U.S.

Toyota sales expert Yoshimi Inaba will appear before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Wednesday along with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administrator David Strickland. The name of the hearing: "Toyota Gas Pedals: Is the Public at Risk?"

Inaba was hand-picked from semiretirement by Toyota President Akio Toyoda last year to head the North American operations and help steer Toyota through the company's biggest earnings slump in its 72-year history as global auto sales dived.

General Motors Co. said Monday it will start shipping parts to dealers this week to fix about 99,000 2009-2010 Pontiac Vibes equipped with the same sticky gas pedal systems as Toyota's. The Vibe is essentially the same car as a Toyota Matrix, built by a joint venture between the two automakers. The Vibe also is covered by the floor mat recall, and GM is urging customers to take out removable mats and put them in the trunk until a fix is ready.

Associated Press Writer Mari Yamaguchi and AP Business Writer Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo and AP Auto Writer Tom Krisher in Detroit contributed to this report.
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Reports-Toyota-plans-to-apf-337642470.html?x=0

Toyota's troubles could remake the auto industry

Posted: 6:05 a.m. Today

Getting to the top of your game or industry is never easy. It takes vision, dedication, competitive drive, talent and some luck. However, it doesn't take long for a champion to get knocked off the podium.

Toyota, it seems, is having its own Tiger Woods moment. Tiger's reputation was permanently tarnished when his perpetual infidelities were revealed.

Now, Toyota's quality indiscretions are coming to light -- and the public is beginning to question whether the automaker's reputation for quality was ever deserved.

Toyota - known for low-cost manufacturing systems, reliable vehicles, best hybrid technology and loyal customers - had reached the zenith as the world’s largest producer of vehicles.

Suddenly, Toyota’s quality problems and bungled crisis management are threatening to reorder the world rankings of automotive companies.
So why all the fuss about Toyota’s quality problems?

I think there are several reasons:

1. Scale and market position.

Audi was struck with sudden acceleration problems in the 1980s, nearly wiping Audi out of the market. Together with its parent, Volkswagen, Audi had less than 2 percent of the U.S. market, yet the problems and various news reports nearly killed off Audi in the U.S.
But Toyota sells about 16 percent to 17 percent of all new vehicles, according to Ward’s Automotive. The pedal recall affects 5 million Toyotas already on the road. That’s equivalent to about three years of the company’s U.S. sales.

2. Culture.

The American way of mea culpa is so foreign to the Asian culture. Shame or loss of face is handled internally and avoided publicly in most Asian cultures, unlike the prevailing American way of admitting mistakes openly.

Japanese-based top management has been reluctant to speak out, yet Jim Lentz, COO of Toyota Motor Sales USA, has been remarkably unconvincing in his remarks on news programs.

And Akio Toyoda, CEO of Toyota, was virtually invisible until late last week.

This reflects a cultural tendency to withdraw during a time of embarrassment rather than outwardly show contrition.

3. Denial.

Toyota had a massive problem with engine oil sludge affecting some 3.5 million vehicles earlier last decade. Even with this prior experience, Toyota seemingly didn't learn much from its prior experience and has again been in denial of product defects:

• First it’s the floor mats catching under the pedal. Now it’s a mechanical bearing subject to moisture that is to blame. Could it be the electronical control unit? What and who is a Toyota owner to believe?

• Toyota has publicly stated that there are no sudden acceleration related problems with the ECU, the electronic control unit. Yet when local TV stations show what the dealer technicians are doing as part of the recall retrofit, footage shows a laptop being hooked into the ECU port to fix the ECU programs.

• Toyota was quick to point at a supplier as the manufacturer of the faulty pedals. Yet the design and engineering specifications are Toyota’s. And the supplier also works with other vehicle manufacturers that don’t have a sticking pedal problem.

• Given the floor mat recall in November, Toyota has known of the sudden acceleration problems for some time, yet it took pressure from federal officials for Toyota to bring about the latest round of action.

Is this the end of the story?

Not by a longshot. Only time will tell, but right now events at Toyota are like a snowball rolling downhill.

You can bet on a future backlash from carpenters and tradesmen who currently own a Tundra or Tacoma and about zero sales conversions from General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and Nissan pickup truck owners.
Used Toyota values and lease residuals will be dramatically lower. Only time will tell for how much and how long.

Toyota's Japanese headquarters and Toyota USA need to centralize crisis management. The cultures are different; the multiple spokesmen are contradicting one another and confusing the public, particularly Toyota owners.

Toyota's U.S. leadership is trying to say the right thing, but it's coming across as insensitive, insincere and empty.

If Toyota losses pile up, they only have themselves to blame. But it will deeply affect the economic well being of its suppliers and communities around the 14 plants in North America.
http://www.annarbor.com/business-review/what-do-tiger-woods-and-toyota-have-in-common/

February 8, 2010

Some Toyota Owners Voice an Eroding Loyalty

By NICK BUNKLEY

LIBERTYVILLE, Ill. — Car shoppers can choose from 25 brands at 13 dealerships along a short stretch of Milwaukee Avenue in this northern Chicago suburb.

Yet many of those who have bought from Libertyville Toyota tended to spend little time perusing the competition. After years of generally trouble-free Toyota ownership, their biggest decisions might have been which of the Japanese carmaker’s models to get next and which color looked best.

The recall of millions of Toyota cars and trucks for problems with their accelerator pedals, however, is giving some of these Toyota loyalists second thoughts. Making matters worse, Toyota will recall early this week at least 311,000 units of its 2010 Prius gas-electric hybrid to fix its braking system, a person briefed on the matter said.

“Up until now, my car has been great. I haven’t had any problems,” said Rachael White, 29, who took her 2007 Camry sedan to Libertyville Toyota over the weekend to have its accelerator repaired. “After this, I gave serious thought to trading in my car, but my concern was that it’s probably worth about a dollar.”

Toyota resale values are declining as a result of the accelerator recall. Kelley Blue Book said the resale value of Toyota models fell 1 to 3 percent last week and could fall further if the problems were not resolved quickly.

Homer Benavides, a civil and environmental engineer, visited Libertyville Toyota twice in the weeks before the recalls to talk about a Sequoia sport utility vehicle. But now Mr. Benavides, 36, who says he needs a bigger vehicle because he is expecting twins in June, plans to buy a Chevrolet Tahoe, from a dealership on the opposite end of Libertyville’s so-called Mile of Cars.

“The odds are very minimal that your car would be one of the bad ones, but it would be bad if you’re that one person,” he said.

Toyota ordered two recalls — one in January of 4.5 million vehicles and a larger one in November — because, it said, accelerator pedals could become trapped under the floor mat or stuck partially depressed because of excess friction. Safety regulators are looking into at least two incidents in which vehicles sped off roads and crashed, killing the occupants. Other reports came from drivers who said their vehicle had accelerated on its own.

Toyota estimated that it lost 20,000 sales in the last week of January, a decline of 16 percent over all, after it suspended sales and production of eight recalled models. Executives in Japan said the company could lose 80,000 sales in the United States and 20,000 more in other countries.

The factories that Toyota halted were scheduled to restart production on Monday, and dealerships have begun fixing the recalled vehicles. Many dealerships have extended the hours of their service departments. Some are staying open around the clock.

Each repair takes 20 to 30 minutes. Several large dealerships said they were fixing about 50 vehicles a day. Toyota said some dealers were trying to make repairs run smoothly by adding greeters to their service drives, providing free car washes and oil changes and increasing communication with customers.

Toyota is sending dealers checks of $7,500 to $75,000, in addition to reimbursing them for the work they perform.

Just as those repairs began, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began an investigation into the braking systems on the 2010 Prius, which was not part of the recalls. Toyota has said it is considering a recall of the Prius, but it could decide to offer customers a more informal repair instead.

The safety agency said it had received 124 reports of problems with the Prius’s brakes as of Thursday, but since then nearly 1,000 more complaints have come in, according to its online database. Of those, 29 involved crashes. Five injuries were reported.

“I love this little car, but now I am afraid to take it anywhere,” wrote one driver who filed a complaint this weekend.

Many Toyota fans have been unmoved by the recalls. “They’re still good cars. Three out of four of my cars are Toyotas,” said Gerald Wilkins, 52, who lives in Los Angeles and bought his first Toyota, a Camry, in 1993. He visited Toyota Santa Monica on Saturday for routine maintenance.
D. Merel Green, of Mesa, Ariz., traded in his recalled 2006 Toyota Avalon sedan on Saturday, but he bought a new Tundra pickup truck, also recalled, to haul a trailer on a cross-country trip.

“I didn’t trade it in because I was the least bit worried about it,” Mr. Green, 93, said. “I was happy with it. I didn’t think they tried to hide the fact that they had a flaw.”

Rival carmakers and dealerships are trying to cash in on the concerns that Toyota’s recalls have created. At Courtesy Chevrolet in Phoenix, eight people have taken advantage of a $1,000 discount from General Motors for Toyota owners, said Scott Gruwell, the general sales manager for the dealership, which is next door to Camelback Toyota.

“We don’t want to come across as predatory or as kicking somebody when they’re down,” he said, “but if people don’t feel safe in their cars and they’re going to buy a new vehicle, of course we’d want them to buy a Chevrolet.”

At Libertyville Toyota on Saturday, shoppers wandered into the new-car showroom.

But Gary Netherton, who was waiting for workers to change the oil in his 2007 RAV4 sport utility vehicle, which was not part of the recall, said his confidence in the brand had been shaken.

“Recalls don’t surprise me, but it surprises me that it’s Toyota because they’re usually so methodical about dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s,” Mr. Netherton, 39, said. “This is a deep-seated problem. It’s going to take them a while to recover face.”

Mr. Netherton, a manufacturing engineer who used to work for the automotive supplier Delphi, said his wife would soon need a new vehicle.
“First, we thought, ‘Just get a Toyota; it’s safe, it’s reliable,’ ” he said. “Maybe we’ll give Ford a chance.”

John Collins Rudolf contributed reporting from Phoenix, and Michael Parrish from Santa Monica, Calif.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/08/business/08dealers.html


Toyota woes: Staring into the abyss
Toyota's president came to power on a wave of optimism but, after overseeing the biggest recall in automotive history, his future and that of his company is in doubt.
By Danielle Demetriou in Tokyo and Graham Ruddick in London
Published: 9:00PM GMT 06 Feb 2010
It was not only his love of super fast cars, near flawless English and internet blogging that made the man dubbed Toyota's Crown Prince stand out as he took to the wheel of the world's biggest auto maker.
At 52, Akio Toyoda was also significantly younger than the 10 previous company presidents to have reigned over Toyota, where his arrival was hailed as a symbol of a fresh, new epoch for a recession-battered car-making industry.
Standing before a flurry of press conference flashbulbs during his debut speech last June, he stated confidently: "Toyota has overcome many challenges during seven decades in business. Toyota will bounce back."
Fast-forward eight months, and Toyoda may be wondering when exactly the resurgence of the company set up by his grandfather might take
place, as the most turbulent period in its 73-year history continues to gather pace.
On Friday he told the world: "I, Akio Toyoda, deeply regret the inconvenience and concern caused to our customers and others by our recent recalls of multiple vehicle models across multiple regions."
Toyota, once a universal symbol of Japanese reliability, is in the throes of a major crisis. Since its establishment in 1937, the iconic car manufacturer famously expanded exponentially alongside Japan's other legendary post-war companies such as Hitachi, culminating in its 320,000-strong global workforce today.
What Toyota's products traditionally lacked in the glamour stakes, they compensated for in terms of an unwavering attention to safety, quality control and reliability.
Its more recent growth was dizzying – and two years ago Toyota overtook General Motors to claim the coveted title of the world's biggest-selling auto maker.
However, now Toyota faces questions about whether the company sacrificed its legendary quality control in order to scoop the number one spot, because it has been burdened with a significantly less complimentary superlative e_SEmD the biggest car recall in history.
More than 8m Toyota cars are being called in around the world, including 180,000 in the UK, because of problems with sticky accelerator pedals. In the US, the historical home of the car industry and where Toyota is especially proud of its dominance, the damage to the brand is potentially devastating.
Ray LaHood, the US transport secretary, sparked headlines around the world when he warned Toyota drivers in the US, where 5.5m cars have been recalled, to stop driving their cars for fear of accidents.
LaHood later watered down his warning, but he vowed to "hold Toyota's feet to the fire" over the problems. An investigation has subsequently been launched by US authorities into suspected braking problems on the hybrid Prius car.
The financial implications for Toyota are already severe – $30bn (£19bn) has been wiped off its market value, the company's credit ratings are under investigation, and the car maker has said it expects to lose $2bn from repairing vehicles and lost sales in the first quarter of 2010, enough to wipe out the $1.7bn profit from the previous quarter.
Even worse for the company is that its rivals across the world are actively seeking to benefit from the crisis by offering incentives to lure Toyota owners. GM, replaced by Toyota as the world's number one car maker, is offering no-interest loans of as long as five years on purchases of one of its new models when a Toyota is traded in.
The company said it made the move following "thousands of calls" to dealerships from concerned Toyota customers.
Volkswagen, the German car group which has aspirations to overtake Toyota at the top of the market by selling more than 10m cars by 2018, is likely to exacerbate the Japanese company's woes this week when it announces positive results for 2009 and talks of an stabilisation in the market compared with the gloom of a year.
Toyoda should also be focusing on improvements in the market, after the company's best quarterly performance in more than a year, but the developments of the past week have marked the low point of his leadership.
He has been heavily criticised for his low-profile during the crisis and only made his first notable comments on the issue on Friday, apart from a brief and impromptu interview in Davos.
Toyoda's period in charge had already been challenging. Only two months before becoming coming to office, the company reported the first annual loss in history, as the automobile industry fell victim to the world's worst post-war recession.
The arrival of Toyota's first American-educated president, who goes by the online alter-ego of "Morizo", had been hailed as a fresh start.
With a CV that could be classed as near-radical compared with his ultra conservative predecessors, Toyoda rose through the Toyota ranks for 24 years to become one of its youngest board members in 2000. He also headed the development team for the internet lifestyle venture gazoo.com and blogged about his love of motor racing and the notoriously dangerous 24-hour races at the Nurburgring in Germany, in which he is a regular competitor.
However, despite his colourful character, it was a sombre Toyoda who faced the world at a press conference on Friday. Although he did not bow for a traditional Japanese apology, he said he was sorry to consumers and admitted: "We are facing a crisis."
Toyoda added: "I offer my apologies for the worries. Many customers are wondering whether their cars are ok."
The Toyota boss unveiled proposals to revamp Toyota's safety checks and global networks, including the introduction of new "quality-management" professionals and greater autonomy for regional divisions.
Masato Takahashi, a PR consultant in Tokyo, observed: "For Japanese consumers, this is all a complete shock. Toyota is traditionally one of the nation's hero companies. Nearly one-in-two people owns a Toyota. The nation was pinning its hopes of economic recovery on companies such as Toyota. It's a shock to see this happening.
"The problem is that Toyota has not been doing enough to minimise the damage, especially from the point of view of apologising. People right at the top should be apologising directly and clearly to consumers and they should have done so before now.
"It is a very difficult and damaging situation for Toyota in terms of its reputation and it will take years to recover from this."
Top of Toyota's 'to do' list now is the painstaking task of recalling the 8m vehicles around the world, which is expected to take eight weeks in the UK.
However, the daunting fact for the company is that this may not be the end of it. The Prius is its flagship eco-vehicle but is under heavy scrutiny amid close to 180 complaints of brake problems and reports of a string of accidents in the US and Japan. On the Prius, Toyoda admitted that he had instructed that "consideration be made as soon as possible regarding the way to address such units" and that: "Once a decision is made we will inform the public."
It was in September last year that the first signs of slippage on the company's once iron-grip on quality control began to capture widespread attention.
It came as Toyota issued warnings to owners of certain vehicles to remove the driver's side floor mat to prevent jamming the accelerator.
It was only last week, however, that it came to light that the previous month, Mark Saylor, 45, was killed with his wife, daughter and brother in California while driving a Toyota Lexus following his final chilling emergency call: "Our accelerator is stuck. . . we're in trouble. . . there's no brakes. . . we're approaching the intersection. . . hold on. . . hold on and pray. . . pray."
While the car model used by the family has not been involved in subsequent vehicle recalls by Toyota, it is one of a string of accidents that have come to light in recent weeks.
But the recall debacle was only just getting started. In October, Toyota received further reports in the US and Canada that pedals were sticking in certain models, while separately, it recalled 3.8m Toyota and Lexus cars due to the issue of floor mats trapping the accelerator pedal.
The following month, Toyota proceeded to expand the vehicles involved in the recall to 4.2m, while also outlining a plan for a preliminary fix for the floor mat issue by cutting off part of the accelerator pedal.
However, it was last month that recall chaos seemed to reach fever pitch. On January 21, Toyota announced plans to recall 2.3m US vehicles due to a separate defect relating to sticking accelerator pedals, the majority of which were already covered by the floor mat recall.
And it marked just the beginning of Toyota's woes – following that recall, US congressional investigators announced it will hold hearings on February 25 "to examine the persistent consumer complaints".
Days later, Toyota added 1.09m models to the floor mat recall, as it widened its recall to include Europe and China, and also announced that it had found solutions for the problems of sticking pedals and the mat issue.
In an exercise in damage limitation, Toyota then took the unprecedented step of placing adverts in 20 US newspapers stating that the production halt was a "temporary pause… to put you first".
The ads were backed up by Jim Lentz, the US president of Toyota, appearing on news shows and stating that they will soon be able to fix the problem as vital components have been dispatched to dealers.
Meanwhile, Shinichi Sasaki, the executive vice president in charge of quality control, was also placed before journalists to offer an apology to customers during a Tokyo press conference.
The belated rush of PR failed, however, to stem the surge of fresh problems to hit the company in the past week.
Amid the growing confusion over recalls, a new defect came to light in the company's beloved Prius hybrid models, some of which have reportedly undergone a momentary loss of braking ability while travelling slowly on bumpy roads.
Last week, the US transportation department took matters into its own hands as it launched an investigation into faulty Prius brakes following 100 complaints, including two crashes resulting in injuries. A further 77 incidents have come to light in Japan.
A recall of the Prius would inflict a painful blow on Toyota, which has prided itself on the creation of its iconic green Prius hybrid vehicle, now Japan's top-selling car, with more than 311,000 units sold globally since the launch of the latest model last May.
It could also exacerbate the impact of the crisis on the standing of the Crown Prince. Toyota may be one of the world's biggest companies, but it faces a battle to avoid one of the most memorable falls from grace.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/transport/7174989/Toyota-woes-Staring-into-the-abyss.html


Toyota Hammered With Lawsuits Over Safety Problems

Company faces 30 class actions, 10 individual actions

By Jon Hood

ConsumerAffairs.com
February 6, 2010

Read more: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2010/02/toyota_pedals8.html#ixzz0et6bLsPk

The hits keep on coming for Toyota, which now finds itself a defendant in a swath of economic and personal injury lawsuits that promise to compound the company's already sizable problems.

The automaker, which has seen its reputation go from trusted provider of safe, affordable vehicles to negligent and ham-handed death-trap producer in less than a month, is facing at least 30 class action lawsuits stemming from its recent safety woes.

Beasley Allen, a well-known Alabama plaintiffs' firm, announced on Thursday that it filed suit in federal court in Florida "on behalf of over 5 million Toyota owners whose vehicles have been recalled by Toyota."

The firm is best known for its 2007 settlement on behalf of Vioxx users who suffered a stroke, heart attack, or death. At $4.85 billion, that settlement stands as the largest in U.S. history.

Beasley Allen's suit alleges breach of warranty, fraudulent concealment, unjust enrichment, and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

The firm's statement confirms reports by ConsumerAffairs.com that unintended acceleration has long been an issue for Toyota.

The law firm cites estimates by Sean Kane, an independent expert on automotive safety, that an eye-popping "2,262 incidents involving unintended acceleration have been reported since 1999." Kane believes that 815 accidents involving Toyotas, resulting in 19 deaths and 341 injuries, were caused by unintended acceleration.

Meanwhile, California firm McCune Wright is forging ahead with a suit filed on November 5, long before the public uproar over Toyota's problems erupted.

On Friday, the firm filed for a preliminary injunction "seeking an immediate order requiring Toyota to expand the Sudden Unintended Acceleration recalls," according to their statement.

McCune Wright says that Toyota's recently-announced brake override system is not being installed on nearly enough vehicles. The override allows the car's onboard computer to detect when the accelerator and the brake are being depressed simultaneously, and return the car's throttle to idle.

According to McCune Wright, "y limiting this brake over-ride system recall to recent model years for just six vehicle models, [b]Toyota has left more than 75 percent of the affected models and model years out of this important recall."

And Colorado firm Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine accuses Toyota of covering up the acceleration problem despite knowing about it for several years. In a suit filed suit on Friday, the firm basically says that consumers wasted money on cars they thought were reliable and safe to drive.

"The problem is that, even for people who have not experienced an unexpected acceleration, they now own a car that they likely wouldn't have bought or, at least, wouldn't have paid as much for had they known about this dangerous, life-threatening defect," said lawyer Michael Burg in a statement.

"Perfect storm of negligence"

There are increasing allegations that Toyota willfully turned a blind eye to the unintended acceleration issue, despite years of reports and complaints.

Kane told the Washington Post on Friday that Toyota failed to install brake override systems earlier, despite receiving complaints of unintended acceleration. "Most other automakers have adopted this technology," Kane said, adding that Toyota's negligence helped "create this perfect storm."

And Toyota's latest headache -- the revelation that its newest Prius hybrid likely has dangerous brake problems -- attracted at least one lawsuit of its own.

A Canadian firm, Merchant Law Group, filed suit on Friday, alleging that the car shuts off power to the brakes in an attempt to save energy.

"As the vehicle switches to the brake pad system, there is a lapse where the vehicle has no braking power," attorney Tony Merchant said in a statement.

The current lawsuits are just the tip of the iceberg.

The number of class actions that Toyota will face is anyone's guess, although the company is almost certain to find a few more complaints in its mailbox on Monday morning. A likely course of action is consolidation of the lawsuits in a single federal court. The seven-member Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation routinely orders consolidation of complex cases pending in multiple districts that involve at least one common issue of fact.

In addition to its class action woes, Toyota is also facing at least ten individual suits, most of which allege personal injury as a result of unintended acceleration.

A Houston plaintiff alleges in a $200 million suit that his wife was killed in an accident in December, after her 2009 Corolla accelerated uncontrollably and crashed into a cement barrier.

Read more: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2010/02/toyota_pedals8.html#ixzz0et6KmPNr

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2010/02/toyota_pedals8.html

Unexpected Acceleration Unintended Acceleration Toyota Vehicles Floor Mats Toyota Negligence Toyota Airbags Mysterious Acceleration Class Actions Full-Throttle Acceleration Sudden Acceleration Class Action Woes Toyota Camry Braking Power Toyota Dealer Toyota Prius Gas Engine Toyota Owners Gas Mileage Light Flashes Runaway Acceleration Consumer Complaints


Toyota to announce action soon for Prius hybrids
Toyota says it will announce Prius action plan soon in response to brake problem

By Kelly Olsen, AP Business Writer , On Sunday February 7, 2010, 12:26 pm EST
TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota said Sunday that it will soon announce plans to deal with braking problems in its prized Prius hybrid amid reports it has decided to issue a recall for the latest model in Japan, a possible new embarrassment for the world's biggest automaker.
Toyota Motor Corp. has already had to recall more than 7 million other cars in the U.S., Europe and China over a sticky accelerator and floor mats that can get caught in the gas pedal. Those problems and criticism of Toyota's response to them have sullied the stellar reputation for quality long enjoyed by one of Japan's corporate icons.
Separately, the company has told dealers in the United States it is preparing to repair the brakes on thousands of Prius vehicles there, according to an e-mail sent by a company executive. It was unclear whether Toyota planned a formal U.S. recall.
"We will make an announcement soon on the action we plan to take," spokeswoman Ririko Takeuchi said, commenting on media reports Sunday that the company has decided to issue a Japan recall. Takeuchi did not confirm those reports.
The Prius is the world's top-selling gas-electric hybrid and its fuel efficiency has drawn intense interest amid concerns about global warming and dependence on fossil fuels.
Toyota decided Saturday on a recall in Japan covering its latest Prius model and has notified domestic dealers, Japan's largest newspaper, the Yomiuri, reported without naming sources. It said Toyota would announce the move early in the coming week after consulting with the Japanese government. Japan's Kyodo News agency and TV Asahi carried similar reports. Kyodo said Toyota had started notifying dealers and that at least 170,000 vehicles in Japan would be subject to the recall.
Phone calls to the section at Japan's transport ministry dealing with recalls went unanswered Sunday. None of about 10 Toyota dealers in Tokyo and the western Japanese city of Osaka contacted about the reports said they had received any notification, though some said they expected to have news this week.
Prius drivers in Japan and the U.S. have complained of a short delay before the brakes kick in -- a flaw Toyota says can be fixed with a software programming change. The lag occurs as the car is switching between brakes for the gas engine and the electric motor -- a process that is key to the hybrid's increased mileage.
The brake problem affects about 270,000 Priuses that were sold in the U.S. and Japan starting last May. The company blames a software glitch and says it has already fixed vehicles that went on sale since last month.
Bob Carter, a Toyota group vice president, sent an e-mail message Friday night to U.S. dealers saying the automaker is working on a Prius repair plan and will disclose more details early this week. At least 100 drivers of Prius cars in the U.S. have complained to the government that their brakes seemed to fail momentarily when they were driving on bumpy roads. The government says the problem is suspected in four crashes and two minor injuries.
Public awareness of the problem "has prompted considerable customer concern, speculation, and media attention due to the significance of the Prius image," Carter said in the e-mail. "We want to assure our dealers that we are moving rapidly to provide a solution for your existing customers."
Besides a full-fledged safety recall, the company could simply ask owners to bring in their vehicles for repairs, since the brakes are not failing completely. The lag occurs as the car switches between brakes for the gas engine and the electric motor -- a process that is key to the hybrid's increased mileage.
The Yomiuri newspaper, however, said that Toyota decided on the more serious step of a recall for the Prius to give priority to restoring consumer trust.
Toyota has acknowledged receiving dozens of complaints about the Prius in Japan.
There is high-level government concern in Japan about Toyota's quality problems. Cabinet ministers have expressed alarm and urged the company to move more quickly to ease consumer worries.
Media criticism of Toyota has intensified since a news conference on Friday by Toyota President Akio Toyoda in which he offered an apology for the defects, but few details about what the automaker would do about the Prius.
The reports said the new Prius model was released in May, and more than 300,000 have been sold in about 60 countries and territories.
Associated Press writers Yuri Kageyama and Jay Alabaster in Tokyo and AP Auto Writer Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit contributed to this report.
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Toyota-to-announce-action-apf-1573457013.html?x=0


Toyota loses some luster in hometown over recalls
Toyota, in its Japanese hometown, loses some luster over response to recalls
By Jay Alabaster, Associated Press Writer , On Sunday February 7, 2010, 2:00 pm EST
TOYOTA, Japan (AP) -- Even in its hometown, the great automaker has lost some of its mystique.
Rising out of the barren winter rice fields of central Japan, this city of 400,000 people is probably the most Toyota-friendly place on the planet. Renamed after the company 51 years ago, it hosts the corporate headquarters as well as enormous factories and is beholden to the automaker for tens of thousands of jobs and the bulk of its tax income.
Residents say they, like the rest of the world, were surprised by the safety problems that have led to a mass recall of Toyota vehicles. But it was the company's response that was more shocking -- the global icon came across as dithering and unprepared.
"Maybe Toyota isn't any different from ordinary companies," said Akari Mizunaga, who works at a local trading company which depends on Toyota for much of its business. She spoke while killing time at a cafe before an English lesson.
As the company grew in the 1930s from its roots as a producer of mechanical looms, it has transformed the formerly rural town into a thriving municipality. Toyota dealerships are strung along the city's main street, and the automaker's curly T logo is everywhere -- on cars, signs and buildings.
"You can't really separate the town from the company," said Hideki Nagata, who works independently in auto repair. "And now there is this sense of -- are we OK?"
None of the people interviewed in Toyota said they would hesitate to buy one of the company's vehicles in the future, and several said they thought the automaker would now work harder to ensure quality. But there was a palpable disappointment in the way it had handled the recent safety concerns, almost as if let down by a relative.
Akio Toyoda, who took over the company in June, is a grandson of Toyota's founder and was seen as a charismatic choice that would lead it back from deep losses incurred during the global economic slump.
But the company's leader kept a low profile after Toyota announced a recall last month to fix defective gas pedals in a number of its mainline models that could cause sudden acceleration. Together with earlier recalls, that has covered over 7 million cars in the U.S., Europe and China.
Toyoda was briefly cornered for an interview by a Japanese TV crew a week later in Switzerland, then finally gave a press conference on Friday, which was widely panned by Japanese media as belated and unconvincing.
The company name is spelled and pronounced differently from the founding family name because Toyota is written in Japanese script with eight brush strokes, considered luckier than the 10 required for the family name.
Toyota's problems have even spread to the prized Prius hybrid after complaints in the United States and Japan about problems with its complex braking system. The quality issues threaten two of the company's core assets -- its sterling reputation for reliability and safety, and its world-beating technology.
In the company museum at corporate headquarters -- where the address is 1 Toyota Town -- there is nothing subtle about the safety message. Main exhibits are devoted to subjects like "Active Safety," "Passive Safety," and "Intelligent Safety." A large room in a prime location next to the entrance is devoted to the hybrid, with a dissected, flashing Prius demonstrating how it works.
Kazuhide Ueyama, 54, visited the museum Saturday on a tour from his home in Osaka, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) away.
"This trip was planned before these problems came up, but everyone was talking about it on the bus over here," he said, referring to the recall woes. "I have no doubt they will deal with the problems firmly, but it does raise some questions."
The city, 150 miles (240 kilometers) southwest of Tokyo, has suffered in the latest global downturn along with the company, which cut temporary workers at its Japan plants to 3,000 workers at the end of last fiscal year from 9,000 a year earlier.
Toyota struggled to its first annual loss in nearly 60 years last fiscal year, and as its tax payments fell the city budget shrunk, leading to cuts in municipal services.
Despite the loss, many point to the company's strong financial standing. Unlike competitors in the U.S., the company boasts solid finances -- a report from investment research firm Morningstar on Jan. 27 after the gas pedal problems came to light called Toyota's balance sheet "fortress-like."
Last week Toyota said it would become profitable again in the current fiscal year through March, after earlier forecasting more deep losses. It now expects a profit of 80 billion yen ($890 million), versus an earlier projection for a 200 billion yen loss. But that was without any potential costs from the latest Prius problems factored in.
Until the recent safety issues, the company was seen by some as more creditworthy than the Japanese government. On Friday, however, ratings agency Standard & Poor's Ratings Services put Toyota under review for a possible downgrade.
Jun Morikawa, who works at a company that transports car parts for Toyota, was among many who voiced concern about the recalls and the financial implications.
"The company just managed to get into the black, and now it looks like it might fall back into the red," he said.
For many Japanese, Toyota is a source of pride because of the legend of its success -- from when its founders tore apart a Chrysler in 1933 to see how it worked, to the company eventually passing General Motors Co. and becoming the No. 1 automaker in the world two years ago.
Now the fear in Toyota is that the company's recent stumbles could see it lose the top spot.
"This is a chance for American companies like GM, who could catch up," said Ueyama.
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Toyota-loses-some-luster-in-apf-802442187.html?x=0

Automotive defect attorney discusses Toyota recall
by Elizabeth Berman
Posted on February 5, 2010 at 12:09 PM
Seattle attorney James. S. Rogers discusses the Toyota recall and how it will impact consumers
Video #6 : http://www.king5.com/video/featured-videos/Automotive-defect-attorney-discusses-Toyota-recall-83662137.html


Newsmax

Experts: Toyota Deserves Criticism for Plight

Saturday, February 6, 2010 09:13 AM
By: Dale Buss

Federal regulators and Congress have savaged Toyota in the last few days over the Japanese automaker’s mishandling of its growing safety-recall problems. Does that mean the Obama administration and Democrats on Capitol Hill are persecuting Toyota for the sake of political opportunism?

Some conservative critics say so, pointing to the federal government’s control of Toyota archrival General Motors and of Chrysler, and President Obama’s clear willingness to fulfill political obligations to industrial unions.
But while circumstances on the surface may suggest that conclusion, the underlying realities argue otherwise.

“I’m as conservative as they come, but I don’t buy that theory,” said George Magliano, director of automotive research for North America for IHS Global Insight, a Lexington, Mass.-based market-research firm. “Toyota has invited this reaction by the government by how poorly they’ve been handling it. It has to get corrected and fast, and the stonewalling by Toyota can’t work.”

Talk-show host Rush Limbaugh and others have made much over the notion that the White House, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration may be trying to help the state-controlled automakers by nailing Toyota over its monumental botch job.

The recalls already have cost Toyota tens of thousands of vehicle sales, this argument goes, and government accusations that the company was slow to address safety concerns are sure to make more American consumers wary of the company and its products.

There’s also the United Auto Workers. Toyota long has been Public Enemy No. 1 to the UAW because the company successfully has resisted unionization efforts at its teeming U.S. operations for more than two decades. So now, the UAW is trying to leverage Toyota’s quality problems into opposition to the company’s plan to close its plant in Fremont, Calif., that has been a unionized partnership with GM.

But overall, this ideological argument comes up short for a number of reasons.

First, no matter how deep Toyota’s troubles now go, the biggest beneficiaries of them will continue to be other foreign-owned brands and Ford -- not Chrysler and not even GM – no matter what the Obama administration might do.

Honda is the brand most synonymous with Toyota’s long-time attributes in the minds of American consumers, for example, and the likeliest immediate beneficiary of Toyota’s troubles. And Hyundai has picked up a lot of momentum recently as a Korean Toyota-wanna-be.

But Chrysler’s product cupboard is so bare that it would take practically Toyota’s complete collapse to benefit the company, which is now being rebooted by Fiat. And GM “may benefit only a tiny bit,” said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst for automotive web site Edmunds.com, which analyzes vehicle consideration and purchase intent.

“Ford is going to be the biggest [domestic] beneficiary, but they didn’t take a government bailout,” Krebs said. “Plus they’ve been on a roll. Whoever had momentum going into [last summer’s] Cash for Clunkers program, and now this, is going to pick up more.”

Krebs also noted that Toyota actually first encountered reports of a sticky-accelerator problem in Europe. And U.S. regulators have been accused, especially by consumer activists on the left, of being slow to hold Toyota to account for the problems that led to the recall.

Another factor suggested by Krebs is that Toyota’s crisis isn’t the company’s alone. “Any kind of massive confusion in the marketplace like this isn’t good for sales at all; it causes consumers to freeze,” she said. Krebs figured that maybe one-half of current Toyota intenders will just wait for the company to straighten things out or put off buying a new car altogether.

While critics believe that Obama administration officials are tone-deaf about or disregarding of economic dynamics, it’s questionable whether they want to see the U.S. automotive market tank again just as they assert that a nascent recovery is gaining steam.

Yet one more, probably underappreciated, element is the role of the American news and entertainment media in the still-unfolding drama. They’re certainly piling on Toyota now, making it seem to conservative skeptics as if they’re doing the bidding of the Obama administration in punishing the Japanese company.

On the Comedy Central network the other evening, for instance, Jon Stewart performed a stinging, five-minute piece titted “Toyotathon of Death.” Among other things, it featured a show “correspondent” seeming to drive a runaway Toyota Camry and careening to his presumed demise.

However, for decades, American trade, business and general news media have demonstrated practically unflagging adoration of Toyota, its quality, its overall consistency, and even its production methods – in most cases painting a direct contrast with U.S. automakers. And there’s been an entire cottage industry of books analyzing Toyota’s success.

American journalists give up their heroes grudgingly, like everyone else. But even they can’t ignore Toyota’s debacle.
http://newsmax.com/Newsfront/toyota-limbaugh-obama-critics/2010/02/06/id/349172


Japanese media criticize Toyota chief for response

Japanese media criticize Toyota chief over recall explanation, slowness to apologize

By Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press Writers , On Saturday February 6, 2010, 7:32 am EST

TOKYO (AP) -- Japanese media sharply criticized Toyota's president Saturday for what they called a delayed and unconvincing explanation for the massive car recall that has sullied the world's biggest automaker, a Japanese corporate icon.

Akio Toyoda, the founder's grandson appointed to lead Toyota Motor Corp. last June, emerged late Friday to apologize and address criticism that the company mishandled a crisis over sticking gas pedals. But he stopped short of ordering a recall for Toyota's iconic Prius hybrid over separate braking problems.

Toyoda's appearance before reporters at a company office in the central Japanese city of Nagoya made front pages of the country's leading newspapers -- but won no praise.

"Words are not enough," the top Nikkei business daily commented in an editorial. "The company's crisis management ability is being subjected to severe scrutiny."

"Utterly too late," the nationwide Asahi newspaper said of Toyota's delayed reaction since the crisis arose Jan. 21 with a global recall of millions of vehicles. "The entire world is watching how Toyota can humbly learn from its series of recent failures and make safe cars."

At his first news conference since the recall of 4.5 million cars, Toyoda promised to beef up quality control and said he would head a special committee to review quality checks, go over consumer complaints and listen to outside experts to develop a fix.

Toyota's failure to stem its widening safety crisis has stunned American consumers and experts who had come to expect only streamlined efficiency from a company at the pinnacle of the global auto industry.

"Toyota needs to be more assertive in terms of providing consumers comfort that the immediate problem is being addressed ... and that it can deal with these crises," said Sherman Abe, a business professor at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo.

It took prodding from the U.S. government for Toyota to recall the vehicles, about half of them in North America, for gas pedals that can stick and cause sudden acceleration.

Asked if he should have acted more quickly, Toyoda replied in hesitant English: "I will do my best."

The company name is spelled and pronounced differently from the founding family name because Toyota was considered to have a luckier number of brush strokes when written in Japanese.

Toyoda is the second successive Toyota president to apologize for car defects. The first, Katsuaki Watanabe, shocked a news conference in 2006, bowing low to the group before promising to improve quality.

Toyoda bowed as he greeted reporters, but not in apology. He told the hastily called news conference that the company had not decided what to do about problems in the braking system of the Prius gas-electric hybrid. The high-mileage, low-pollution car is a leader in its field and a symbol of Toyota technology.

Toyoda and Shinichi Sasaki, who oversees quality control, offered no new explanations for the braking problem.

Prius drivers, mostly in the U.S. but some in Japan, have complained of a short delay before the brakes kick in -- a flaw Toyota says can be fixed with a software programming change. The lag occurs as the car is switching between brakes for the gas engine and the electric motor -- a process that is key to the hybrid's increased mileage.

Japan's transport ministry has received nearly 80 complaints, including reports of five accidents involving no injuries, from Prius drivers in the past four days regarding possible brake problems, the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper reported Saturday, without citing sources. The ministry, which had received 14 complaints by the end of January, will urge Toyota to investigate the accidents, the newspaper said.

Officials at the ministry and with Toyota could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Toyota has acknowledged receiving dozens of complaints about the Prius in Japan.

Toyota spokesman Mike Michels said Friday that the company continues to weigh options on how to handle repairs of the problem, and it is communicating with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the U.S.

Among options are a campaign to notify Toyota owners to bring their cars in for repairs, or a full-fledged safety recall. Michels said he could not say when Toyota would make a decision.

The automaker said it fixed the programming glitch in Prius models that went on sale since last month, but it has done nothing on 270,000 Prius cars sold last year in Japan and the U.S.

The lack of action has raised questions about whether there is a bigger problem, but Sasaki denied any cover-up.

There is high-level government concern in Japan about Toyota's quality fiasco. Cabinet ministers have expressed alarm and urged the company to move more quickly.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama earlier this month ordered Industry and Trade Minister Masayuki Naoshima to convey the message. Consumer affairs minister Mizuho Fukushima also called Toyota's reaction "too slow." Transport Minister Seiji Maehara, who oversees auto regulation, has urged Toyota to consider a recall for the Prius brake problem.

No sense of crisis was apparent in Japan outside of media and government circles, however. The Toyota story was published on Saturday's front pages, but most national newspapers gave more prominence to news such as the government's planned dispatch of troops to Haiti, an ongoing political funds scandal, the government's budget deficit and global warming.

Associated Press writers Malcolm Foster, Yuri Kageyama and Kelly Olsen in Tokyo, Tom Krisher in Detroit and Stephen Manning in Washington contributed to this report.
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Japanese-media-criticize-apf-2946728471.html?x=0


Washington Missed Signs In Toyota Recalls

Driver Complaints, Multiple Deaths Among Unnoticed Clues

KEN THOMAS, Associated Press Writer
POSTED: Saturday, February 6, 2010
UPDATED: 12:06 pm EST February 6, 2010

WASHINGTON -- When Peter Boddeart's Lexus lurched forward and rear-ended another vehicle in Fauquier County, Va., earning him a police citation, he wrote to federal regulators imploring them to look into his case "before someone ends up seriously injured or killed."
That was in 2003.

The years since have seen hundreds of drivers' complaints about unwanted acceleration of their Toyotas, six inconclusive federal investigations, multiple reports of deaths and repeated denials from the automaker that it had a major problem on its hands.

That's just the sort of bureaucratic inertia Barack Obama pointedly criticized as a presidential candidate. Yet his administration was without a federal highway safety chief for most of its first year and, like the Bush administration before it, missed signals in the Toyota case.

After several investigations, it was only last week that Toyota owners learned federal regulators, concerned that the company was not taking apparently dangerous defects seriously enough, traveled to Japan in December to light a fire under corporate executives. Meanwhile, millions of Toyotas continued to be driven by drivers unaware of the potential scope of the problem, and the cars continued to be sold.

Combined with a recall involving the toxic metal cadmium that arose from press scrutiny rather than federal oversight, the Toyota episode has raised questions about whether the government under Democrats will be any more agile in enforcement of consumer protections than the Bush administration was.

"When you've got a government regulatory agency, it has to be a government cop on the corporate beat," said Joan Claybrook, who was chief of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration during the Carter administration. "And it's got to act like a cop."

Claybrook said that while most of the Toyota investigations took place during the Bush administration, the absence of a permanent administrator during Obama's first year prevented a new team from conducting a full review of dozens of pending defect investigations and a fresh look at the Toyota cases.

Toyota's string of recalls burst into the open in late September, leaving millions of car owners unsure if their vehicles were safe to drive and tarnishing the reputation of a company once synonymous with safe, reliable cars. The road to the recall of millions of Camrys, Corollas and other popular Toyota models began years ago, touched off by warnings from Boddeart, who died in April, and others who worried their cars might bolt forward and cause a crash.

Back in 2003, Boddeart told regulators that his accident marked the third time his 1999 Lexus LS400 accelerated unexpectedly and asked them to investigate. Five months later, the 83-year-old's petition to the agency was panned "in view of the need to allocate and prioritize NHTSA's limited resources," a common refrain in rejection letters.

Several investigations followed.

In 2004, Carol Mathews, a nurse from Rockville, Md., crashed into a tree when her Lexus suddenly accelerated. She asked the agency to investigate. The government reviewed problems with electronic throttles in about 1 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles and found more than 100 complaints.

Seeking to limit the scope of the review, Toyota urged the government to consider a "vehicle surge to be something less than a wide-open throttle." No defect was found after 4 1/2 months of investigating and the case was closed.

In July 2005, Jordan Ziprin, a retired attorney in Phoenix, asked the government to dig into the problem after his 2002 Camry XLE spun out of control and crashed into an electric utility box. "Had there been any vehicles or pedestrians in the street, deaths would probably have followed," he wrote.

Reviewing Toyota models built from 2002 to 2005, the agency found that 20 percent of 432 complaints reviewed involved "sudden or unintended acceleration." But regulators said the complaint rate was "unremarkable." The government closed the case, citing "insufficient evidence."

A separate investigation launched in March 2007 reviewed allegations that floor mats were interfering with accelerator pedals. Toyota said a month later that there was "no possibility of the pedal interference with the all-weather floor mat if it's placed properly and secured."

By that August, government investigators had tied the problem to 12 deaths and a survey of 600 Lexus owners found about 10 percent reported sudden or unexpected acceleration. In September, Toyota recalled 55,000 Camry and ES350 vehicles to replace the floor mats. But that was hardly the end of the problems.

In January 2008, William Kronholm of Helena, Mont., complained about his 2006 Tacoma truck accelerating while he hit the brakes. During the investigation, Toyota told NHTSA it believed complaints by Kronholm, a retired Associated Press editor, and others were attributed to "extensive media coverage" and many of the problems cited by consumers -- including lurching when the vehicle came to a stop and engine idle speed changes when the vehicle was stopped -- were "minor drivability concerns." Kronholm's case was closed in August 2008 without a defect finding.

Last August, a high-speed crash near San Diego killed a California highway patrol officer, his wife, daughter and brother-in-law, bringing renewed attention to the problems, now the regulatory responsibility of the Obama administration.

The highway patrol officer's loaner Lexus ES350 reached speeds of more than 120 mph, struck an SUV, launched off an embankment, rolled several times and burst into flames. The family frantically called 911 from the Lexus, telling the dispatcher the pedal was stuck and they couldn't stop.

In October, Toyota issued its largest-ever U.S. recall, involving about 4 million vehicles. The fix, which is still under way, includes reconfiguring the gas pedal and installing brake override software on some vehicles.

In November, Toyota said federal regulators had concluded "no defect exists" in the case, drawing a rare rebuke from the government. NHTSA said the company issued inaccurate information. In December, federal officials traveled to Japan to urge Toyota to take the safety concerns seriously and report defects promptly. Toyota said it would comply.

On Jan. 12, a top Toyota executive said the company was addressing the problems. "We have learned from these mistakes and we are confident that we're doing the right thing for our customers," Toyota Motor Sales USA president Yoshi Inaba said in a Detroit speech.

Nine days later, Toyota recalled 2.3 million vehicles over concerns that the gas pedal could get stuck or fail to return to the idle position. Dealers are now engaged in an all-out blitz to fix the vehicles, inserting a small plate into the pedal assembly to deal with friction that could cause the problem.

Separately, Toyota also told dealers Friday that it's preparing a plan to repair the brakes on thousands of hybrid Prius cars in the U.S. and would disclose details in the coming week. More than 100 drivers of 2010 Prius cars have complained that their brakes seemed to fail momentarily when they were driving on bumpy roads.

The efforts have done little to soothe critics who have long thought the highway safety agency was too trusting of car companies and slow to push for higher standards. In Toyota's case, two of the company's top safety officials in Washington are former NHTSA employees.

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader, who exposed auto industry malfeasance in his 1960s best-seller, "Unsafe at Any Speed," said the problems stem from a "regulatory enforcement agency that turned itself, due to corporate pressure and White House neglect, into a consulting firm."

NHTSA was without a permanent administrator for most of the past year. Obama's first choice, Chuck Hurley, chief executive officer of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, withdrew from consideration after environmentalists criticized him for being too soft on fuel efficiency standards. It was not until December that Obama put forward David Strickland, a former counsel to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, who was confirmed.

Now fully engaged, the Transportation Department has stepped up its investigation and warned that Toyota could face civil penalties of up to $16 million for failing to issue timely recalls. But the government ha
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:18 pm    Post subject: Independent Experts Say Toyota Doesn't Really Know What Caus Reply with quote

February 14, 2010

Toyota Recall: Independent Experts Say Toyota Doesn't Really Know What Causes ...

www.injuryboard.com

"It can be a tremendously difficult thing to spot," said Ronald Jurgen, an electrical engineer who edits the Automotive Electronics Reliability guidebook ...

See all stories on this topic http://news.google.com/news/story?ncl=http://kansascity.injuryboard.com/automobile-accidents/toyota-recall-another-report-points-to-electronics-as-source-of-acceleration-problems.aspx%3Fgoogleid%3D278136&hl=en

Toyota Recall: Independent Experts Say Toyota Doesn't Really Know What Causes Acceleration Problems

Posted by Brett Emison
Sunday, February 14, 2010 12:56 PM EST

Although Toyota has continued to deny that its electronics are a cause of the sudden unintended acceleration problem, the Los Angeles Times reports http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-fi-toyota-electronics14-2010feb14,0,5002647.story?track=rss that it remains an "open question."

CNN interviewed four independent safety experts, including Sean Kane of Safety Research & Strategies http://www.safetyresearch.net// . These experts each came to the same conclusion: Toyota doesn't really know what causes the sudden acceleration problem and, therefore, doesn't really know how to fix it.

Kane also told CNN that Toyota had acceleration complaints relating to Toyota electronics dating back to 2002.

Experts Say Toyota Does Not Know The Problem!!! See Video: http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/us/2010/02/13/griffin.toyota.electronics.cnn

From the Los Angeles Times:

In the nearly five months since it launched a string of recalls to stop its cars from accelerating out of control, Toyota Motor Corp. has been adamant about one thing: It's not the electronics.

Company officials first put the blame on floor mats that could entrap the accelerator, later amending that to include gas pedals themselves that could stick.

But they have vigorously asserted that there is no evidence of a glitch in the electronics or software that could cause cars to malfunction, a "ghost in the machine."

Some independent safety experts, congressional investigators and others are just as certain that the risk of an electronic flaw is being dismissed by Toyota without an adequate examination.

***

"Cars are moving computers, and the electronics are the very heart of the car," said Ian Mitroff, emeritus professor of USC's Marshall School of Business and a consultant on crisis management. Unlike a mechanical problem, like a sticking pedal, the fix is not easily understood, he said.

"It's the most scary component of all," said George Hoffer, an economist at Virginia Commonwealth University who moonlights as a consultant on recalls for automakers.

***

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, meanwhile, has opened a new investigation at the behest of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to determine whether electromagnetic interference could cause sudden acceleration, but has said it had never found evidence to support that theory.

But experts in electronics say that even the most thorough testing can fail to turn up computer problems, given the increasing complexity of automobile technology.

"It can be a tremendously difficult thing to spot," said Ronald Jurgen, an electrical engineer who edits the Automotive Electronics Reliability guidebook for the Society of Automotive Engineers.

He said that code errors in programs, electromagnetic interference or design problems in circuit boards could create issues that appear only in extremely rare instances.
"And when you can't spot it, it's just as dangerous and deadly as a major mechanical problem," Jurgen added.

So far, Toyota has proposed relatively low-cost fixes for the problems that cause sudden acceleration, such as a small shim for gas pedals that outside experts say probably costs a few pennies to produce.

But if an electronics problem is found, new microprocessors or new engine control modules could be a lot more expensive, aside from labor costs.

"Rather than a few pennies it may amount to more than $100 per vehicle," said Michael Pecht, director of an electronics reliability lab at the University of Maryland. "My gut tells me that there is still more to come from Toyota."

***

Toyota is not alone: Other automakers, including General Motors and Chrysler, have in recent years conducted recalls for hardware and software failures that cause engine surging and possible loss of control.

According to James Muccioli, an automotive electronics consultant who spent his career in the industry, the increasing complexity of auto electronics has come in tandem with sharply compressed timelines to design, develop and test such systems.

"Automakers used to take five years to develop a new model, and then it became 15 months," he said.

And because those time constraints are even more pronounced in the pressure cooker of a high-profile recall, there's a significant risk that a new error could be put into the system.

"Sometimes you fix a problem and you accidentally incorporate new ones," Jurgen said.

Now, with three congressional committees and NHTSA focused on the electronics issue, the topic will only get more attention.

"No matter what Toyota's position has been on this issue, we're going to be seeing a lot more focus on the electronics going forward," said Itay Michaeli, auto industry analyst at Citi Investment Research. "If it proves to be an electronics issue, that would be strike three for the company."

Toyota's continued denials and failure to even examine its own electronics as a source of this deadly problem is just another example of Toyota's culture of deception and hypocrisy http://kansascity.injuryboard.com/automobile-accidents/toyota-recall-toyotas-culture-of-hypocricy-and-deception.aspx?googleid=278058 .

Toyota has a well-documented history of attempted cover-ups of safety problems http://kansascity.injuryboard.com/automobile-accidents/sudden-acceleration-toyotas-history-of-covering-up-potential-safety-problems.aspx?googleid=276070 .

The Detroit Free Press has documented http://www.freep.com/article/20100131/BUSINESS01/1310523/1014/business01 how Toyota has stonewalled the investigation of these problems since at least 2003.

A Free Press review of documents from nine U.S. investigations since 2003 into sudden acceleration complaints show Toyota repeatedly ruled out many owner complaints, dismissed several concerns as posing no danger and modified models in production without offering similar changes to vehicles already on the road.

Not until the 2007 floor mat investigation did any of the complaints lead to a recall.

Safety advocates and attorneys for owners suing over sudden acceleration say Toyota has simply stonewalled.

Instead of doing the right thing and fixing these problems on its own, Toyota had to be pressured into finally fixing these problems.

While Toyota waited, innocent people died.

Toyota's president was on the Today show being interviewed by Matt Lauer and spouted many of these same lies http://kansascity.injuryboard.com/automobile-accidents/toyota-recall-did-toyota-president-lie-on-national-tv.aspx?googleid=277594 .

After dragging its feet and being called "safety deaf" http://kansascity.injuryboard.com/automobile-accidents/us-officials-toyota-safety-deaf-on-recall-delays.aspx?googleid=277706 on the sudden acceleration recall, Toyota did it again when Toyota knew of the problems with its Prius brakes long before warning its drivers, http://kansascity.injuryboard.com/automobile-accidents/same-song-different-verse-toyota-of-prius-brake-problems-but-didnt-tell-you.aspx?googleid=277784 customers and innocent motorists.

As I have documented here http://kansascity.injuryboard.com/automobile-accidents/ for the last several months, Toyota has known about -- and ignored -- its sudden acceleration problem for more than five years
http://kansascity.injuryboard.com/automobile-accidents/toyota-denied-customer-complaints-on-sudden-acceleration-problem-for-more-than-5-years.aspx?googleid=274028 .

Instead of acknowledging and repairing this widespread defect, http://kansascity.injuryboard.com/automobile-accidents/toyota-acceleration-problem-widespread.aspx?googleid=274362 . Toyota waited years to acknowledge the defect and instead blamed its own customers. It appears Toyota's conduct is just more of the same for a company with a documented history of safety-problem cover-ups http://kansascity.injuryboard.com/automobile-accidents/sudden-acceleration-toyotas-history-of-covering-up-potential-safety-problems.aspx?googleid=276070 .

You can see the time line of Toyota's sudden acceleration safety problems here http://kansascity.injuryboard.com/automobile-accidents/toyota-recall-a-time-line-of-toyotas-checkered-safety-history.aspx?googleid=278022 and see the independent report on sudden acceleration from Safety Research & Strategies here http://www.safetyresearch.net/Library/ToyotaSUA020510FINAL.pdf .

How has Toyota gotten away with such egregious conduct for so long?

Are there two sets of rules in this country -- one set for powerful corporations and one set for regular people like you and me?

Could you or I get away with such conduct?

Why do we continually let giant corporations get away with hurting or killing the very people that buy their products.

It is time we hold car makers and other corporations accountable for their conduct. It is time every one -- rich, poor, old, young -- plays under the same set of rules.

Learn more and become a fan of Langdon & Emison on Facebook.

http://kansascity.injuryboard.com/automobile-accidents/toyota-recall-another-report-points-to-electronics-as-source-of-acceleration-problems.aspx?googleid=278136
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2010 11:56 pm    Post subject: Documents: Toyota boasted saving $100M on recalls Reply with quote

Documents: Toyota boasted saving $100M on recall

Documents: claimed it saved $100M by negotiating limited recall

Ken Thomas, Associated Press Writer, On Sunday February 21, 2010, 8:19 pm EST

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Toyota officials claimed they saved the company $100 million by successfully negotiating with the government on a limited recall of floor mats in some Toyota and Lexus vehicles, according to new documents shared with congressional investigators.

Toyota, in an internal presentation in July 2009 at its Washington office, said it saved $100 million or more by negotiating an "equipment recall" of floor mats involving 55,000 Toyota Camry and Lexus ES350 vehicles in September 2007.

The savings are listed under the title, "Wins for Toyota -- Safety Group." The document cites millions of dollars in other savings by delaying safety regulations, avoiding defect investigations and slowing down other industry requirements.

The documents could set off alarms in Congress over whether Toyota put profits ahead of customer safety and pushed regulators to narrow the scope of recalls. Two House committees are holding hearings this week on the Japanese automaker's recall of 8.5 million vehicles in recent months to deal with safety problems involving gas pedals, floor mats and brakes.

The world's largest automaker has been criticized for responding too slowly to complaints of sudden acceleration in its vehicles, threatening to undermine its reputation for quality and safety.

The documents were turned over to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and obtained by The Associated Press on Sunday. The presentation was first reported by The Detroit News.

Toyota said in a statement: "Our first priority is the safety of our customers and to conclude otherwise on the basis of one internal presentation is wrong. Our values have always been to put the customer first and ensure the highest levels of safety and quality."

Kurt Bardella, a spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the top Republican on the Oversight Committee, said the documents raise questions on "whether Toyota was lobbying for less rigid actions from regulators to protect their bottom line."

Transportation Department spokeswoman Olivia Alair called the document "very telling. And that's why Secretary (Ray) LaHood has been saying we're going to hold Toyota's feet to the fire and make sure they do what's necessary to make their cars safe for the driving public."

The new documents show the financial benefit of delay. In the presentation, Toyota said a phase-in to new safety regulations for side air bags saved the company $124 million and 50,000 man hours.


Delaying a rule for tougher door locks saved $11 million.

On defect regulations, the document boasts that Toyota "avoided investigation" on rusting Tacoma pickup trucks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigated the case in 2008 but closed it without finding a safety defect. Toyota agreed to buy back certain rusty pickups, inspect other and extend warranties.

The document lists seven "Wins for Toyota & Industry," including "favorable recall outcomes," "secured safety rulemaking favorable to Toyota" and "vehicles not in climate legislation." Another page lists "key safety issues," including "Sudden acceleration on ES/Camry, Tacoma, LS etc."

In one passage, the document says Toyota "negotiated 'equipment' recall on Camry/ES re SA; saved $100M+, w/ no defect found."

NHTSA had launched an investigation in March 2007 over allegations that floor mats were interfering with accelerator pedals. Toyota told the government a month later that there was "no possibility of the pedal interference with the all-weather floor mat if it's placed properly and secured."

By that August, the government had connected the problem to a dozen deaths and a survey of 600 Lexus owners discovered 10 percent reported sudden or unexpected acceleration. But the recall in September 2007 was limited to 55,000 Camry and ES350 vehicles to replace the floor mats.

The 10-page internal presentation was dated July 6, 2009, less than two months before a high-speed crash near San Diego killed a California highway patrol officer and his family and reignited concerns over sudden acceleration in Toyotas.

In October 2009, Toyota issued its largest-ever U.S. recall, involving about 4 million vehicles, over concerns of pedals getting stuck in floor mats.

The presentation lists Yoshi Inaba, Toyota's chief executive in North America, on its cover. Inaba is scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday, along with Toyota president Akio Toyoda and Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales USA. The committee is also expected to hear from LaHood, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland and safety advocates.

The Oversight Committee is holding a hearing Tuesday with Lentz, LaHood and Strickland. A Senate committee is planning a March 2 hearing.

Toyota has said it will create an outside review of company operations, do a better job of responding to customer complaints and improve communication with federal officials.

Separately, the government said Sunday it was already investigating reports of sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles when the nation's largest auto insurer shared complaints about the issue.

The Transportation Department released documents showing that in December 2003 it began investigating 39 complaints of sudden acceleration involving 2002-03 Toyota Camry sedans.

That was about three months before State Farm shared with NHTSA complaints of sudden acceleration in 2003-04 Lexus ES300s and 2002-04 Camrys.

The document released by LaHood said the department had received allegations of 26 crashes and 4 injuries involving drivers complaining of their vehicles surging when backing up, pulling in and out of parking spaces and shifting gears.

Reports of deaths in the U.S. connected to sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles have surged in recent weeks, with the toll of deaths allegedly attributed to the problem reaching 34 since 2000, according to new consumer data gathered by the U.S. government.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Documents-Toyota-boasted-apf-1226776468.html?x=0
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2010 11:57 pm    Post subject: Documents: Toyota boasted saving $100M on recalls Reply with quote

Documents: Toyota boasted saving $100M on recall

Documents: claimed it saved $100M by negotiating limited recall

Ken Thomas, Associated Press Writer, On Sunday February 21, 2010, 8:19 pm EST

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Toyota officials claimed they saved the company $100 million by successfully negotiating with the government on a limited recall of floor mats in some Toyota and Lexus vehicles, according to new documents shared with congressional investigators.

Toyota, in an internal presentation in July 2009 at its Washington office, said it saved $100 million or more by negotiating an "equipment recall" of floor mats involving 55,000 Toyota Camry and Lexus ES350 vehicles in September 2007.

The savings are listed under the title, "Wins for Toyota -- Safety Group." The document cites millions of dollars in other savings by delaying safety regulations, avoiding defect investigations and slowing down other industry requirements.

The documents could set off alarms in Congress over whether Toyota put profits ahead of customer safety and pushed regulators to narrow the scope of recalls. Two House committees are holding hearings this week on the Japanese automaker's recall of 8.5 million vehicles in recent months to deal with safety problems involving gas pedals, floor mats and brakes.

The world's largest automaker has been criticized for responding too slowly to complaints of sudden acceleration in its vehicles, threatening to undermine its reputation for quality and safety.

The documents were turned over to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and obtained by The Associated Press on Sunday. The presentation was first reported by The Detroit News.

Toyota said in a statement: "Our first priority is the safety of our customers and to conclude otherwise on the basis of one internal presentation is wrong. Our values have always been to put the customer first and ensure the highest levels of safety and quality."

Kurt Bardella, a spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the top Republican on the Oversight Committee, said the documents raise questions on "whether Toyota was lobbying for less rigid actions from regulators to protect their bottom line."

Transportation Department spokeswoman Olivia Alair called the document "very telling. And that's why Secretary (Ray) LaHood has been saying we're going to hold Toyota's feet to the fire and make sure they do what's necessary to make their cars safe for the driving public."

The new documents show the financial benefit of delay. In the presentation, Toyota said a phase-in to new safety regulations for side air bags saved the company $124 million and 50,000 man hours.


Delaying a rule for tougher door locks saved $11 million.

On defect regulations, the document boasts that Toyota "avoided investigation" on rusting Tacoma pickup trucks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigated the case in 2008 but closed it without finding a safety defect. Toyota agreed to buy back certain rusty pickups, inspect other and extend warranties.

The document lists seven "Wins for Toyota & Industry," including "favorable recall outcomes," "secured safety rulemaking favorable to Toyota" and "vehicles not in climate legislation." Another page lists "key safety issues," including "Sudden acceleration on ES/Camry, Tacoma, LS etc."

In one passage, the document says Toyota "negotiated 'equipment' recall on Camry/ES re SA; saved $100M+, w/ no defect found."

NHTSA had launched an investigation in March 2007 over allegations that floor mats were interfering with accelerator pedals. Toyota told the government a month later that there was "no possibility of the pedal interference with the all-weather floor mat if it's placed properly and secured."

By that August, the government had connected the problem to a dozen deaths and a survey of 600 Lexus owners discovered 10 percent reported sudden or unexpected acceleration. But the recall in September 2007 was limited to 55,000 Camry and ES350 vehicles to replace the floor mats.

The 10-page internal presentation was dated July 6, 2009, less than two months before a high-speed crash near San Diego killed a California highway patrol officer and his family and reignited concerns over sudden acceleration in Toyotas.

In October 2009, Toyota issued its largest-ever U.S. recall, involving about 4 million vehicles, over concerns of pedals getting stuck in floor mats.

The presentation lists Yoshi Inaba, Toyota's chief executive in North America, on its cover. Inaba is scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday, along with Toyota president Akio Toyoda and Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales USA. The committee is also expected to hear from LaHood, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland and safety advocates.

The Oversight Committee is holding a hearing Tuesday with Lentz, LaHood and Strickland. A Senate committee is planning a March 2 hearing.

Toyota has said it will create an outside review of company operations, do a better job of responding to customer complaints and improve communication with federal officials.

Separately, the government said Sunday it was already investigating reports of sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles when the nation's largest auto insurer shared complaints about the issue.

The Transportation Department released documents showing that in December 2003 it began investigating 39 complaints of sudden acceleration involving 2002-03 Toyota Camry sedans.

That was about three months before State Farm shared with NHTSA complaints of sudden acceleration in 2003-04 Lexus ES300s and 2002-04 Camrys.

The document released by LaHood said the department had received allegations of 26 crashes and 4 injuries involving drivers complaining of their vehicles surging when backing up, pulling in and out of parking spaces and shifting gears.

Reports of deaths in the U.S. connected to sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles have surged in recent weeks, with the toll of deaths allegedly attributed to the problem reaching 34 since 2000, according to new consumer data gathered by the U.S. government.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Documents-Toyota-boasted-apf-1226776468.html?x=0
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 5:10 pm    Post subject: Automotive News Delves Into Toyota's Soul and Americanism Reply with quote

The March 2 Issue of Automotive News Delves Into Toyota's Soul and Americanism, Along With Upcoming Dealer Arbitration Strategies

DETROIT, Feb. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Three major stories from the March 2 issue of Automotive News are outlined below.

On page one, Automotive News Washington Reporter Neil Roland looks at how lawyers for the rejected General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group dealerships plan to use emotional appeals to give them an edge in upcoming arbitration hearings. The lawyers plan to paint dealers as pillars of their communities, providing jobs, taxes and charitable contributions. The lawyers also will try to show how dealers suffered from the terminations of their franchises.

A second story in the March 2 Automotive News by Roland looks at the soul of Toyota. On one side is the Toyoda family, led by Akio Toyoda, wielding the influence of the clan name in a drive to restore the values that transformed a parochial Japanese loom maker into a global paragon of engineering excellence, skilled manufacturing and product quality.

On the other side are the forces of a new modern corporate culture — forged during the last decade of voracious growth and shaped in large part by non-family members — that prizes growth, global expansion and a Western-style dedication to pleasing investors.

In another story on Toyota, Automotive News Nashville Reporter Lindsay Chappell asks the question, "Is Toyota American enough?" Toyota Motor Corp. has spent 20 years telling U.S. consumers how deeply it has sunk its roots into America. But in congressional testimony last week, Toyota executives acknowledged that the home office in Japan continues to call the shots in its biggest market.

The disconnect between Toyota U.S.A. and Toyota Japan, as well as Toyota manufacturing and Toyota sales in the United States, partly accounts for the giant's current blizzard of problems, recalls, lawsuits and public scoldings, according to comments made during hours of congressional testimony last week.

ABOUT AUTOMOTIVE NEWS

Based in Detroit and owned by Crain Communications Inc, Automotive News has been the place for all the news that is happening among automotive retailers, suppliers and manufacturers since 1925.

In addition to the 100% paid weekly print issue that is received by 65,000 subscribers, autonews.com is a vibrant Web site with more than three million page views monthly. It contains the day's breaking news and features a daily newscast and webinars. Daily and weekly e-mails and breaking news alerts keep the industry's top executives up-to-date.

SOURCE Automotive News
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-march-2-issue-of-automotive-news-delves-into-toyotas-soul-and-americanism-along-with-upcoming-dealer-arbitration-strategies-85582412.html




Lawmaker: Toyota Withheld Crash Lawsuit Evidence

Company Chose Settlements Over Disclosure, Congressman Says

STEPHEN MANNING, AP Business Writers
POSTED: 3:03 pm EST February 26, 2010
UPDATED: 7:46 pm EST February 26, 2010

WASHINGTON -- A House lawmaker said Friday that internal Toyota documents show the automaker deliberately withheld key vehicle design and testing evidence in lawsuits filed by Toyota drivers injured in crashes.

In a letter to Toyota's top North American executive, House oversight committee Chairman Edolphus Towns accused Toyota of shielding its testing data on potential problems with Toyota vehicles. Towns wrote that Toyota chose to enter hefty settlements with plaintiffs to avoid disclosing the database, which the lawmaker said was referred to as the "Books of Knowledge."

The Toyota documents "show a systematic disregard for the law and routine violation of court discovery orders in litigation," Towns wrote in the letter to Yoshimi Inaba.

Towns asked Inaba to respond to the issues raised by the documents by March 12.

Toyota said in a statement that it is confident it acted appropriately in product liability lawsuits and it looks forward to addressing Towns' concerns. The automaker said it is not uncommon for companies to object to demands for documents made in lawsuits.

"Consistent with that philosophy, we take appropriate steps to maintain the confidentiality of competitive business information and trade secrets," the statement said.

Inaba and Toyota President Akio Toyoda appeared before the committee on Wednesday, the second of two House hearings this week on Toyota's recall of 8.5 million vehicles over safety concerns. Toyota turned over thousands of internal documents before the hearings. A third Toyota hearing is scheduled for next week in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

Lawmakers and federal safety regulators have accused Toyota of concealing safety problems over cases of sudden unintended acceleration due to gas pedal problems. The company has pledged to be more responsive to customer complaints and safety warnings.

The oversight committee also subpoenaed records from Dimitrios Biller, the former managing counsel of Toyota's U.S.-based product liability group. Biller, who worked at Toyota from 2003 to 2007, dealt with lawsuits against the company for vehicle rollover crashes.

In a July lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, Biller accused Toyota of conspiring to withhold evidence in the rollover cases and forcing him to resign when he told the company it had a legal duty to release evidence to plaintiffs' attorneys.

The lawsuit says Biller was harassed by Toyota and suffered a "complete mental and physical breakdown." He made a wrongful discharge claim and agreed to a $3.7 million severance package.

According to memos Biller provided to the committee, Toyota had a database covering design problems and "countermeasures" that it developed to resolve the rollover problems. It could be searched by vehicles or component part, and was kept by Toyota's technical center. Biller said he discovered the database while working on a case, and warned that it should be released during litigation.

Biller wrote in an e-mail that he agreed to a $1.5 million settlement in 2006 to avoid disclosure in a roll-over case. He also warned that the company needed to keep better track of cases of unintended acceleration.

In an October statement, Toyota said Biller's actions were motivated by personal financial interests and denied that he resigned due to legal ethics concerns.

His actions while defending Toyota in rollover lawsuits are "wholly inconsistent" with allegations raised in his claims against the automaker, Toyota said.

Also Friday, the Canadian government called for an investigation into the recall of 270,000 vehicles made by Toyota in Canada for safety concerns, and a conservative member of parliament asked that Toyota executives appear before legislators.

Toyota officially said Friday that it will extend nationwide some recall-related services that it was offering to customers only in the state of New York.

The added services will be tailored to a customer's needs and can include quick scheduling of repairs, pick up and return of their vehicle by the dealer, driving a customer to work, or providing alternate transportation such as a loaner or rental car.

The services will be offered to all Toyota and Lexus owners in the U.S. whose vehicles are covered by sticky pedal, floor mat, antilock brake or drive shaft-related recalls.

Dealers or owners will be reimbursed for their recall-related expenses. The reimbursement is in addition to $7,500 to $75,000 that the company already is paying dealers as part of the recalls.

Toyota said it reached agreement with Attorneys General in other states to offer the services. The services initially were announced Wednesday as part of an agreement between Toyota and New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, but an executive later told a congressional committee they would be extended nationwide.
___
Tom Krisher reported from Detroit

http://www.wbaltv.com/automotive/22684814/detail.html




Surviving the Toyota Recall

Fatal Crash Finally Sparks a Huge Recall for Toyotas and Lexuses
Feb 26, 2010 Glenn Wilkins

Read more at Suite101: Surviving the Toyota Recall: Fatal Crash Finally Sparks a Huge Recall for Toyotas and Lexuses http://automotive-safety.suite101.com/article.cfm/surviving-the-toyota-recall#ixzz0gm1EoR2h

After a crash killed a California family and Toyota was found to be at fault, Toyota and Lexus owners are nervous. Here's what to do if your pedal gets stuck.

Toyota has been rightly known for many years as the most reliable automaker on the market. They have enjoyed this seat with fellow Japanese automaker Honda in tow and achieved many milestones in their craft. Recently, however, there has been a lot of buzz about Toyota, and as a result, a lot of people are seriously questioning the reliability and the responsibility of the globally famous automaker.

Toyota’s Sticking Accelerator Pedal

Toyota has put out two recalls recently for the same issue: the now-notorious sticking accelerator pedal. “Sticking,” in this case, refers to an extremely dangerous situation in which the accelerator pedal gets stuck in a depressed position, continuously speeding the car up outside the driver’s control. Toyota’s initial diagnosis was that the floor mats were causing the pedals to stick.

Rightly so, this diagnosis makes very little sense to some people. How could a floor mat, which sits flat on the ground a couple inches below the pedal (and entirely out of its reach until the driver presses the pedal all the way down, in which case the pedal still rests on top of the mat) possibly make the pedal stick?

Well, it can when the mat is longer than it should be, as Toyota discovered, but the chances of that are still extremely slim. Many people are looking at this improbable diagnosis as Toyota’s means of evading the situation so they wouldn’t have to pay the far higher price to recall the mechanisms that work the pedals.

In the meantime, they continued to manufacture the faulty pedals, replacing the floor mats instead and believing that this was solving the problem.

Whether or not this diagnosis was truly a means of cheap escape for Toyota no longer matters, as recently, a tragic and fatal incident occurred involving the Saylor family of California now forces Toyota and everyone else to examine the situation more closely.

Read more at Suite101: Surviving the Toyota Recall: Fatal Crash Finally Sparks a Huge Recall for Toyotas and Lexuses http://automotive-safety.suite101.com/article.cfm/surviving-the-toyota-recall#ixzz0gm13s1HX
http://automotive-safety.suite101.com/article.cfm/surviving-the-toyota-recall




Toyota got Big-company Disease: Dedicated to Overtaking GM

By: Peter Chubb | February 26, 2010

A lot has been going on in the auto industry, and not for the good either. Over the past few years, Toyota has gone from a humble Japanese automaker, to one that wanted to take over from General Motors (GM) and become the largest automaker in the world. However, in that time Toyota has got big-company disease.

These are not our words but those of Peter Brown from Automotive News. We have heard many things about Toyota over the months, but nothing like that and it is certainly fitting. The problem is the Japanese carmaker has spent so long chasing GM that they have taken their eye off the ball, hence all these recent recalls.

A few years ago Toyota’s main aim was quality vehicles and this was the case with bulletproof engineering. We now hope that the automaker is able to get back on its feet, but with new recalls being issued almost on a weekly basis we worry that too much damage has already been done.

We recently reported that Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda appeared before congress to try and explain how these recalls came to be. He had hoped to make things better, but he seems to have annoyed those in congress, rather than please them.

http://www.product-reviews.net/2010/02/26/toyota-got-big-company-disease-dedicated-to-overtaking-gm/




Toyota Withheld Relevant Documents, Broke the Law, Says Recall

Committee Chairman
• By Colum Wood, Friday February 26 2010

Toyota “withheld relevant electronic records” that it was required, by law, to produce said Rep. Ed Towns, Chairman of the committee looking into Toyota’s current recall woes.

Towns, (D-N.Y.), made the comments today during the continuing House Oversight and Government Reform Committee meetings that earlier this week saw Toyota CEO Akia Toyoda grilled by lawmakers over his company’s numerous and far-reaching recalls and its slow response time in issuing those recalls.

Towns made the comments after reviewing documents subpoenaed from a former Toyota lawyer, which show that Toyota didn’t hand over its research data on some models, instead opting to engage in multi-million dollar settlements rather than divulge the information.

The documents relate specifically to SUV rollovers, not to the current recall issues.

Toyota responded by saying it had done nothing wrong and that it stands by its decision to withhold certain information, “to maintain the confidentiality of competitive business information and trade secrets.”

In a press release issued in response to Rep. Towns statement, Toyota states that, “We are confident that we have acted appropriately with respect to product liability litigation and our discovery practices and look forward to addressing Chairman Towns’ concerns.

[Source: Automotive News]

http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2010/02/toyota-withheld-relevant-documents-broke-the-law-says-recall-committee-chairman.html
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 3:11 pm    Post subject: Senate investigators' ties to Toyota Reply with quote

March 2, 2010

March 2, 2010

Senate investigators' ties to Toyota

Senate investigators' Toyota connections at a glance

Sharon Theimer, Associated Press Writer, On Tuesday March 2, 2010, 12:22 pm EST

Several senators on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which held a hearing Tuesday to investigate Toyota's safety issues and recall, have connections to the Japanese automaker.

Here is a look at the committee's ties to Toyota and other automakers:

--Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.: The Senate's lead Toyota investigator has known Toyota's founding family for decades and credits himself with helping to persuade the company to build a factory in his state. He walked through fields with Toyota executives scouting locations and has said that by the time Toyota picked Buffalo, W.Va., "I felt like a full-fledged member of that site selection team."

--Former committee staffer David L. Strickland: Now heads the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, whose actions on Toyota safety issues are part of Rockefeller's inquiry. A Republican senator asked Strickland at his confirmation hearing whether he could disagree with Rockefeller, his former boss. Strickland said that when he was at the committee, Rockefeller signed his paychecks and what the senator said went, but that in his NHTSA role he could disagree with Rockefeller.

--Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.: Helped attract a Toyota factory to Blue Springs, Miss., an area he represented as a congressman, and steered federal money to the project. After Toyota announced the site in 2007, Wicker called it "a new era in manufacturing excellence in Northeast Mississippi." Toyota announced in late 2008 that it would delay production at the plant, where it planned to make the Prius hybrid. Wicker has said he is confident that after Toyota spent millions on the factory, it won't walk away from it and will start building cars there when the economy improves. Wicker has commuted from a Virginia condo to the Senate in a Toyota Paseo, saying, "It may be the rattiest car in the entire U.S. Senate." Wicker said at the hearing it is important to ensure vehicles are safe but at the same time "to be mindful that there are thousands of American jobs at stake."

--Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the committee's top Republican: Has taken credit for helping persuade Toyota to build a factory in San Antonio and met with the head of Toyota's site selection team while it considered Texas. But when the automaker held a news conference to announce it had picked the state, Hutchison wasn't informed: "We didn't know. ... I read it in the newspaper. We're going to find out why we didn't know," her spokesman said at the time. At the groundbreaking, Hutchison promised to help ensure "Toyota gets the best railroad rates possible as we build on this important partnership." Hutchison received $2,500 in January for her campaign for governor from a Texas Toyota dealership's general manager.

--Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.: Toyota's North American headquarters and several Toyota facilities are in her state. Boxer mentioned at the hearing that she is a longtime Toyota Prius owner and said she was concerned about driving her children and grandchildren in the car, given Toyota's safety issues. Boxer has previously noted that California trails only Michigan in auto-related jobs. Last year, she joined other California lawmakers offering to work with Toyota to keep open a car factory that it operated with General Motors in Fremont after GM announced it was pulling out, but Toyota later announced it would end production there, too.

--Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.: Helped steer federal money to the site of a parts plant in Arkansas operated by Hino Motors, a truck company in which Toyota holds a majority stake.

--Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla.: The senator questioned then-NHTSA nominee Strickland about his ability to act independently of his old boss, Rockefeller. "The oversight for you in your role will be from the committee that you once served on," LeMieux noted at Strickland's confirmation hearing.

--Sen. David Vitter, R-La.: Received at least $4,000 in campaign contributions last year from the political action committee of Gulf States Toyota Inc., an independent distributor of Toyota vehicles and parts that operates in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Vitter has said that as part of the U.S. bailout of Detroit automakers, Congress should impose labor costs and work rules on the companies' union workers similar to those in the nonunion shops of competitors such as Toyota, Honda and Nissan to help the Big Three U.S. automakers become more competitive.

--Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb.: Johanns noted at the hearing that he was agriculture secretary in President George W. Bush's administration and described his frustration when the Japanese government banned imports of U.S. beef after a case of mad cow disease. He said he wondered how the Japanese would like it if the U.S. likewise banned imports of Japanese cars until the Japanese government proved they are safe.

-- Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska: Mentioned at the hearing that he has a Toyota Highlander and said that in his state, it can be difficult for Toyota owners to get their recalled cars to a dealer for repairs.

-- Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.: Has a Toyota.

--Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.: Has criticized Japan's version of the "Cash for Clunkers" program, saying it favored Japanese automakers such as Toyota at the expense of U.S. car companies.

--Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.: Toyota rival Honda makes automotive transmissions in Georgia.

--Isakson and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.: Toyota has regional offices in their states.

--Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.: Honda makes all-terrain vehicles and personal watercraft in South Carolina.

--No Rust Belt representation: Unlike two House committees investigating the Toyota recall, there are no lawmakers on the Senate panel from the Rust Belt states where the "Big Three" U.S. automakers -- Ford, General Motors and Chrysler -- are big employers and they and their unionized employees are a powerful political bloc.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Senate-investigators-ties-to-apf-2080243601.html?x=0&.v=8



Recall News - FBI investigates Three Toyota Suppliers in the United States

Posted Yesterday 04:03 PM by RimZ
Filed under: Auto Recalls, Toyota

As if things weren’t already shaky between Toyota and the U.S. government, the FBI stepped in yesterday and raided the U.S. headquarters of three Japan-based automotive suppliers, all of them with ties to Toyota.

Officials said that the suppliers were searched by FBI agents Tuesday in connection with an international anti-trust investigation...

Read more at eGMcarTech.com
http://blogs.internetautoguide.com/6646374/auto-recalls/recall-news-fbi-investigates-three-toyota-suppliers-in-the-united-states/index.html




Feds Weighing Brake Overrides In All New Cars

Idea Gaining Support Following Toyota Recalls

KEN THOMAS, Associated Press Writers
POSTED: 7:48 pm HST March 1, 2010
UPDATED: 9:15 am HST March 2, 2010

WASHINGTON -- Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Tuesday his agency may recommend that every new vehicle sold in the U.S. be equipped with brakes that can override the gas pedal.

The idea seemed to be gaining support among lawmakers as Toyota officials returned for a third congressional hearing on lethal safety defects.

"We will not rest until these cars are safe," LaHood told the Senate Commerce Committee.

His testimony came as federal safety officials increased to 52 the number of reported deaths linked to sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles, through the end of last month. Previously, 34 deaths were blamed on the problem.

"I think you'll see some changes in the way they do business," LaHood told the panel.

Toyota Motor Corp. and federal regulators both faced renewed questions Tuesday from Congress over the giant Japanese car company's troubled safety record.

"We know something has gone terribly wrong," said committee chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. "The system meant to safeguard against faulty vehicles has failed, and it needs to be fixed and it needs to be fixed right away."

Multiple recalls have damaged Toyota's reputation and set the stage for large numbers of death and injury lawsuits amid a criminal investigation by federal prosecutors in New York, a probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission and more scrutiny from the Transportation Department. Since September, Toyota has recalled about 6 million vehicles in the U.S.

There was further evidence Tuesday of how the broad recalls and safety questions have affected Toyota's business. The company's U.S. sales fell 9 percent in February while rivals General Motors and Ford posted healthy gains.

One element of new legislation could be a requirement that all newly manufactured cars sold in the United States have an override system.
Toyota has said it will put such a system into all future vehicles and will retrofit many recalled models.

More than 8 million Toyota cars have been recalled in all because of sudden acceleration or braking defects.

Meanwhile, Toyota's North American president, Yoshimi Inaba, said Toyota was setting up an outside panel to advise the company's North American affiliates on quality and safety issues. He said Rodney Slater, a U.S. transportation secretary during the Clinton administration, would lead the group.

The panel will have direct access to company president Akio Toyoda and will make sure the company's new safety and quality controls "conform to best industry practices," Inaba said in prepared testimony to the committee.

The backup safety system under discussion would override the accelerator if the gas and brake pedals were pressed at the same time.
"Why don't we require every manufacturer to do this?" Rockefeller asked.

LaHood responded: "We are looking at the possibility of recommending the brake override system in all newly manufactured automobiles."

The new number of 52 deaths was surfaced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, part of the Department of Transportation. Federal officials haven't formally confirmed the links between deaths and Toyota defects but have received a spike in complaints since Toyota began a series of big recalls in October.

Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, noted that not just Toyota cars have defects, but that other automakers also have been subject to millions of recalls. "It is not a Toyota problem, it is an industry problem," he said.

Inouye noted that over much of the past decade, recalls of vehicles made by Ford, General Motors and Chrysler dwarfed Toyota recalls.
"If it is an industry problem, we should hear from the industry, instead of just Toyota," Inouye said.

Rockefeller, whose state is the site of a Toyota plant, said, "It is clear that somewhere along the way public safety took a back seat and corporate profits drove the company's decisions."

Rockefeller has known Toyota's founding family since the 1960s and helped land a Toyota engine plant in Buffalo, W.Va., during the 1990s. Rockefeller last month asked the Transportation Department's inspector general to conduct an audit of the government's response to the recalls and has sought information from Toyota, the government and auto insurers.

The Senate panel -- formally the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation -- is probing whether Toyota and federal safety regulators acted swiftly enough.

Three Toyota officials were due to testify later Tuesday.

Toyota President Toyoda pledged last week before a House panel to be more responsive to driver complaints and safety warnings from the government. Toyoda made a similar promise to improve quality control while apologizing Monday to Chinese Toyota owners.

But the company still faces lingering doubts over the cause of the problems, which it has blamed on gas pedals that can get obstructed by floor mats or stick due to design flaws. Safety experts have said the electronic systems of Toyota vehicles also could be to blame. Toyota insists there is no evidence of an electrical cause.

Rockefeller said that federal investigators seemed to be reluctant to investigate whether vehicle electronics were to blame for problems with cars speeding out of control because it is harder to detect electronic problems.

NHTSA "would rather focus on floor mats than microchips because they understand floor mats," Rockefeller said.

LaHood responded that his agency will do a "complete review" of the electronics issue.

Adding to Toyota's woes, the automaker said Tuesday it is repairing more than 1.6 million vehicles around the world, including the U.S. and Japan, for potentially leaky oil hoses.

http://www.kitv.com/automotive/22711707/detail.html



Toyota troubles again: Potential oil leak in more than 900,000 cars, Avalon to Camry

by The Weekly Driver News Service on Mar 1, 2010

Toyota has more issues, and this time it’s with 933,800 Camry, Avalon, Rav4 and Lexus models with a potential oil leak that could damage the engine if untreated. On some of the above-mentioned models equipped with V6 engines, the rubber portion of the engine oil hose may develop a small hole, potentially causing oil leakage and engine failure.

Toyota notified its dealers of the issue March 1, according to Reuters.
The potential oil leak problem has not prompted a recall, the issue is not a major safety concern and has been described as a “limited service campaign.”

The oil hose service campaign covers 2007-2010 model year Camry, 2005-2009 Avalon, 2006-2009 Rav4, 2007-2008 Lexus ES 350 and 2007-2009 RX 350 vehicles.

Toyota is also investigating whether the same condition may affect other Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

The leak would likely be noticed by drivers as the condition may cause abnormal engine noise or cause the oil pressure light to illuminate.

Toyota owners who need the oil hose replaced can do so without charge at Toyota dealerships until March 31, 2013. The service takes about an hour.

Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons confirmed the company had sent the document on a “limited service campaign” to U.S. dealers. He added that the oil hose issue is not a safety issue and the vehicles are not being recalled.

Aaron Bragman, auto analyst with IHS Global Insight, told Reuters the oil hose issue is not nearly as significant as safety recalls involving unintended acceleration.

Toyota, whose sales dipped 16 percent in January, is expected to announce its February sales totals March 2.

http://theweeklydriver.com/2010/03/01/toyota-troubles-again-potential-oil-leak-in-more-than-900000-cars-le/http://theweeklydriver.com/2010/03/01/toyota-troubles-again-potential-oil-leak-in-more-than-900000-cars-le/
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 10:57 am    Post subject: 18 Videos Of Toyota Runaway Facts: Reply with quote

18 Videos Of Toyota Runaway Facts:

Toyotas Gone Wild: Cops Forced To Intervene To Slow Down Runaway Prius

Joe Weisenthal | Mar. 9, 2010, 5:52 AM

Another damaging blow for Toyota. Once again, a Prius went haywire and would not slow down. The police had to get in front of it to make it stop. Here's video (via LeftLaneNews)
Video Of 18 Toyota Runaway Facts:

http://www.businessinsider.com/toyotas-gone-wild-cops-forced-to-intervene-to-slow-down-runaway-prius-2010-3

Be sure and move your mouse over the video you want to see and then click the video to start the story. Sad, Toyota has caused so many people to suffer! Why?
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:53 am    Post subject: 911 tapes capture terrifying Toyota ride Reply with quote

On Monday, police had to help slow down a runaway Toyota Prius

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/35794731#35794731 on a California freeway. The driver said the accelerator had become stuck and the car reached 94 mph before a trooper, shouting instructions from a megaphone, helped him slow down and shut off the engine.

A driver says his Toyota suddenly accelerated to 90 mph, taking him on a terrifying 30-mile ride on a San Diego County freeway. With the help of a California Highway Patrol officer, the driver was able to bring the car under control. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.

911 tapes capture terrifying Toyota ride
Listen to James Sikes, the driver of the out-of-control Toyota Prius, plead with emergency operators as his car careens through traffic at high speeds on a San Diego freeway. CNBC’s Phil LeBeau reports.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/35794731#35794731

Tuesday:
A 56-year-old woman claims that this Toyota Prius went out of control in Harrison, N.Y. as she was leaving her driveway. It was the second incident in as many days of alleged runaway acceleration of the popular Toyota hybrid.

A second incident involving a Toyota Prius accelerating unintentionally http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/35794731#35794731 occurred Tuesday in Harrison, N.Y., according to NBC's WNBC. Police were investigating the cause of the crash, but Harrison police Capt. Anthony Marraccini said a floor mat issue at the heart of many of the recalls did not appear to be a factor.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 4:53 pm    Post subject: 3 California men injured when car rolls down cliff Reply with quote

3 California men injured when car rolls down cliff

(AP) – 2 hours ago

JENNER, Calif. — Three California men are lucky to be alive after their car veered off a highway and rolled 120 feet down a coastal cliff.
The California Highway Patrol says the Toyota Corolla veered off Highway 1 on Sunday and went over the cliff, landing on a rocky beach below.

Investigators say it took rescue personnel several hours to get to the crash site. All three were wearing seat belts.

They say the driver, 59-year-old Fidel Alvarez Chavez, and his passenger, 29-year-old Alfrado Morales, suffered moderate injuries. Another passenger, 31-year-old Gabriel Noriega, suffered minor injuries.
Officials say alcohol and drugs don't appear to be factors. The Corolla is a 1989 — long before gas pedal problems at Toyota.
Information from: The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, http://www.pressdemocrat.com
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jse76yQq_7uOTHtVMPs222dTDjPAD9EF56OO1


Hear Former Toyota Lawyer Slam Toyota - Video
http://money.cnn.com/2010/03/15/autos/toyota_prius_presser/

Toyota takes aim at California runaway Prius story…..(They blame customer & Media?)

by Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writerMarch 15, 2010: 4:58 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Toyota challenged a California driver's story of an out-of-control Prius at a press conference Monday afternoon in California.

Executives from the automaker detailed preliminary findings of a joint investigation conducted by Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into an incident with an alleged out-of-control Prius.
Prius owner Jim Sikes made national headlines last week with claims that his car's accelerator got stuck as he sped up to pass a car while traveling on California's I-8 highway outside of San Diego and that he was unable to stop the car.

"As I was going, I was trying the brakes ... and it just kept speeding up," he said.

Sikes story is at odds with the findings of the investigation according to Toyota and to a draft congressional memo obtained by CNN.

"While a final report is not yet complete, there are strong indications that the driver's account of the event is inconsistent with the findings of the preliminary analysis," Toyota said in a prepared statement.

Sikes said he called 9-1-1 for help as he was traveling in excess of 90 mph on a winding, hilly portion of the interstate. He said dispatchers tried to talk him through ways to stop the car, but nothing helped.

Eventually, a California Highway Patrol officer was able to catch up to Sikes and used the patrol car's public address system to instruct Sikes to apply the brakes and the emergency brake at the same time. That tactic worked, and he was able to stop the car.

However, because driving a hybrid car like the Prius with both the gas pedal and the brakes simultaneously depressed would cause serious damage to the car's electric motor and, possibly other systems, Toyota says the Prius is designed to prevent that from happening.

If the brake is pressed at the same time as the gas pedal, power to the engine will be reduced just as if the gas pedal had been released, the automaker said. During driving tests on Sikes' Prius and on an identical 2008 Prius, the system operated as expected, according the report, preventing the car from pushing forward while braking.

Investigators are extremely meticulous when taking apart a car in a case like this, said Ed Higgins, a Michigan personal injury attorney who has been involved in automobile defect cases. They are aware their work will be subject to intense scrutiny so they measure and document everything, he said.

"I would think that any mechanical defect that would have allowed something to happen that otherwise could not have happened would have stood out like a sore thumb," he said.

The car also did not show damage consistent with the engine having been running at full throttle while the brakes were on, according to the report.

"Toyota engineers believe that it would be extremely difficult for the Prius to be driven at a continuous high speed with more than light brake-pedal pressure, and that the assertion that the vehicle could not be stopped with the brakes is fundamentally inconsistent with basic vehicle design and the investigation observations," Toyota said in a statement released Monday afternoon.

The car's front brakes showed significant wear and overheating, Toyota said. That kind of wear and heat would be consistent with the brakes being lightly applied over a long period of time, executives said at the press event.

Data from on-board computers indicated that Sikes had applied the brakes and gas pedal, alternately, at least 250 times during the incident, Toyota executives said.

Edmunds.com has independently tested Prius cars similar to Sikes and confirmed that the engine would stay engaged if the brakes were only pressed lightly but not hard enough to actually stop or slow the car, said Dan Edmunds, head of auto testing for the automotive Web site Edmunds.com.

"If you're just riding the brakes, it will ride the brakes," he said.
"These findings certainly raise new questions surrounding the veracity of the sequence of events that has been reported by Mr. Sikes," said Kurt Bardella, spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and ranking member of the committee.

Sikes' attorney, John Gomez, denied that the report proves his client was wrong about what happened to his car.

"The notion that they weren't able to replicate it in this particular case tells us nothing," he said. "They haven't been able to replicate a single one of these."

Sikes has no plans to sue Toyota, Gomez said.

Gomez is also representing the family of Mark Saylor, a California Highway Patrolman who was killed, along with members of his family in a Lexus sedan that accelerated out of control. A preliminary investigation has found that the accelerator pedal in that car probably became trapped on an all-weather floor mat that had been incorrectly installed in the vehicle.

Toyota has issued a recall for several models, including Sikes' Prius, to address possible floor mat entrapment. Sikes' floor mat was not interfering with the accelerator, investigators found, and there were no signs the pedal had become stuck in any way, according to the report.

The investigators findings "suggest that there should be further examination of Mr. Sikes account of the events of March 8," Toyota said in its statement.

Toyota spokesman Mike Michels also took issue with media coverage of the Sikes incident. Journalists sensationalized an admittedly dramatic event, he said, but the public would have been better served had reporters waited for all the facts.

"We need to let investigations take their course," he said.
http://money.cnn.com/2010/03/15/autos/toyota_prius_presser/
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:47 pm    Post subject: Toyota Workers Crushed by Toyota!!!! Reply with quote

March 16, 2010

OP-ED COLUMNIST

Toyota Workers Crushed by Toyota

By BOB HERBERT
Published: March 15, 2010

California has been very, very good to Toyota. It is one of the largest markets in the world for the popular Prius hybrid. Nearly 18 percent of all Toyotas sold in the U.S. are sold in California. The state has showered the company with benefits, including large-scale infrastructure improvements for its operations and millions of dollars for worker training. California is one of the key reasons that Toyota is the wealthiest carmaker on the planet.

Toyota is paying the state back with the foulest form of ingratitude.

The company is planning to shut down the assembly plant in Fremont, Calif., that makes Corollas and the Tacoma compact pickup. The plant closure will throw 4,700 experienced, highly skilled and dedicated employees onto the street during the worst job market since the Depression, and it will jeopardize nearly 20,000 other jobs around the state.

It is a cold and irresponsible act on Toyota’s part, a decision that was not necessary from a business standpoint and that completely disregards the wave of human misery it is setting in motion.

The New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant (generally referred to as NUMMI) began as a joint venture between Toyota and General Motors in 1984. G.M. abandoned the venture when it collapsed into bankruptcy proceedings last year. Toyota declared that the plant was no longer viable because of the absence of G.M. and announced that it would close at the end of this month.

What has not been made clear to the public is that for many years the plant has been used primarily to produce vehicles for Toyota, not General Motors.

A report prepared for a state commission that has been seeking to avert the plant closure noted that “G.M. accounted for only 10 percent of the plant’s production last year and an average of 15.4 percent between 2001 and 2009.”

In fact, from Jan. 1 to Feb. 27 this year, with G.M. gone, Toyota produced 61,000 sparkling new vehicles at the plant. That was more than double the 27,000 that were produced in the same period in 2009, when G.M. was part of the operation.

The report, written by Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at the University of California, Berkeley, noted that “Toyota could easily fill its production lines at NUMMI by building a higher percentage of the Corollas it sells in the U.S.,” or by adding a new model to the plant — a hybrid, for example.

What we’re dealing with here is the kind of corporate treachery toward workers and their local communities that has ruined countless lives over the past several decades and completely undermined the long-term prospects of the economy.

The NUMMI plant is a heck of a lot more viable than the nonstop dissembling of top Toyota executives. The company could keep the plant open and profitable if it wanted to. But, instead, it has decided to shift the production of these vehicles to Japan, Canada, Mexico and Texas.

The scale of the ingratitude is breathtaking.

The U.S. is the largest market for Toyota vehicles in the world, larger even than Japan. The Corolla, one of the vehicles produced at NUMMI, is the best-selling car of all time.

Beyond sales, Toyota has reaped endless benefits not just from California, but from the U.S. government and other states as well.

The federal cash-for-clunkers program, for example, was a bonanza for Toyota. As Professor Shaiken’s report put it: “The automaker ranked first in ‘Cash for Clunkers’ sales in summer 2009, a stimulus effort that allocated $3 billion in incentives to trade in older models for newer, more fuel-efficient ones. The Corolla proved the most popular model.”

Among the infrastructure investments made by California on behalf of the NUMMI plant was the dredging of the Port of Oakland 12 years ago at a cost of $410 million. That was done to accommodate the types of cargo ships required by the plant.

It will be a crushing economic blow if Toyota, as planned, high-tails it out of Fremont.

Like the rest of the nation, California is struggling with the worst employment crisis since the 1930s. The NUMMI plant closure would be the single biggest layoff in the state since the start of the Great Recession in December 2007.

Those who are trumpeting the alleged fact that the recession is over should consider that the unemployment rate in California in January (the last month for which complete statistics are available) was a mind-numbing 12.5 percent. That was the fifth worst in the nation.

In eight California counties, the jobless rate — not the underemployment rate, mind you, but the official jobless rate — was higher than 20 percent. Those counties are suffering through a depression.

The human toll behind such data is of no apparent interest to the fabulously wealthy Toyota operation.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/16/opinion/16herbert.html


March 16, 2010
Toyota Recall Saga continues, NHTSA Launches Probe into Recall Timeline

March 16, 2010 at 11:00 am

It takes years to build a reputation but few seconds to ruin it all. Toyota and its recall saga examplates that just perfectly as the NHTSA and the Federal law are still behind the Japanese company with all sleeves up. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has now launched a probe into the timeline of Toyota recalls as to whether the manufacturer timely conducted it three recalls or not.

Announcing on its official site, the NHTSA has clearly stated to use its statutory authority to obtain documents from Toyota to determine if the automaker conducted three of its recent recalls in a timely manner.

Toyota will now have to provide the papers that document when and how the company learned of the defects that affected approximately 6 million vehicles in the U.S. alone. The officials will scrape out details as to whether the defects were found during pre-production or post-production of the vehicles and also that whether Toyota was spontaneous enough to respond to the complaints or not.

The documents will include all the relevant information for the investigation starting from production data, incidents, complaints, warranty complaints, copies of tests, dates of meetings, timelines, and supplier information.

“Safety recalls are very serious matters and automakers are required to quickly report defects,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The investigators will examine that whether Toyota has covered all affected models leaving no problem unattended. If at all the reports prove negative owning to the dark clouds hovering over the company, it may end up paying upto $16.4 million in civil penalties that the NHTSA has the authority to impose on the defaulters.

“Our top priority is safety and we expect that all manufacturers address automotive safety issues quickly and in a forthright manner,” said David Strickland, Administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

http://www.nitrobahn.com/news/toyota-recall-saga-continues-nhtsa-launches-probe-into-recall-timeline/


March 16, 2010
Forget Toyota; buy American again

March 16, 2010

I am a retired GM worker from the now-demolished Linden Plant. My neighbor down the street from me is a retired Ford worker from the demolished Ford Edison Plant. These plants produced quality, reliable, and safe vehicles for many, many years.

Then, my fellow citizens bought Japan's claim that Japanese cars and trucks were better than our safe, reliable American iron. As a result, hundreds of thousands of American auto workers permanently lost their jobs, plants were closed, never to reopen.

Most certainly, GM, Ford and Chrysler had occasional recalls that were dealt with expeditiously. It has been brought out recently that past safety issues were minimized, which saved Toyota millions in possible recall costs.

Now we have this debacle which thankfully Toyota has not been able to sweep under the rug. First it was unintended acceleration, then brake issues. What's next? At last count, more than 140 deaths have been attributed to these defects. People have reported unintended acceleration even after a so-called fix.

Are you still happy with your Toyota/Lexus/Prius vehicle as more and more comes out regarding these vehicles?

Are you confident you can go out on the road and not wreck? If so, you are in serious denial.

Toyota claims they are doing all they can to win you back, to trust them.

Lip service, smart public relations, and new TV ads spouting: look how hard we are working to win you back. Think about it — shouldn't they have been doing that all along?

It is up to you — stay with Toyota (good luck) or come back home to GM, Ford and Chrysler.

http://www.mycentraljersey.com/article/20100316/OPINION02/3160315/-1/newsfront/Forget-Toyota-buy-American-again


March 16, 2010

Data: Toyota drivers experience more runaway acceleration than owners of other vehicles

By Frank Ahrens | March 16, 2010; 11:49 AM ET The Washington Post

Speaking about Toyota on MSNBC last Saturday, I said that I was going to spend at least part of this week looking into complaints about runaway acceleration in non-Toyota vehicles, to see whether Toyota's problems were atypical.

Well, auto-research site Edmunds.com beat me to it.

Writing in an op-ed in today's Post, which you can read by clicking here, Edmunds.com chief executive Jeremy Anwyl describes his staff's one-by-one investigation of the more than 52,000 complaints filed at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration since 2005.

The NHTSA site, Safercar.gov, is where drivers can file complaints about their vehicles and search complaints filed by others.

Anwyl writes:

"The database, with more than 760,000 records, is, simply put, a mess. After reading each complaint since model-year 2005, we found that 30 percent of the original complaints were miscategorized; more than 26 percent were duplicates; and hundreds were not complaints but merely comments or suggestions."

Sorting through the mess, Anwyl's team found something interesting: Toyota drivers registered more complaints about unintended acceleration than drivers of any of the six other major brands. Only Ford comes close.

According to the NHTSA complaints, Toyota drivers experienced 4.81 instances of runaway acceleration per 100,000 vehicles sold. With Ford, the number was 3.12 per 100,000. And it went down from there. GM owners filed only 0.81 complaints per 100,000 vehicles sold.

What does this tell us? The NHTSA complaints aren't scientific. Drivers don't know how to diagnose problems. But if we generally accept that they are honest reports of experiences, then the Toyota numbers might be telling.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/economy-watch/2010/03/data_toyota_drivers_experience.html


March 16, 2010

POSTED: Tuesday, Mar. 16, 2010

Seattle Couple sues Toyota on behalf of Wash. customers

The Associated Press
Read more: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2010/03/16/1340753/couple-sues-toyota-on-behalf-of.html#ixzz0iMGKkZ9L

SEATTLE - A Seattle couple has sued Toyota, seeking to have the company take back the vehicle they just bought or reimburse them for lost value.

Dana and Douglas Eller filed the lawsuit Monday in federal court, seeking class action status on behalf of others who recently bought Toyotas.

The lawsuit claims the Ellers bought a 2009 RAV4 in September and a short time later received a recall notice and took the vehicle in for repairs. But after Toyota's much publicized recalls for acceleration problems, they say they tried to sell the car and were told its value is 20 percent less than what it was worth less than six months ago.

Read more: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2010/03/16/1340753/couple-sues-toyota-on-behalf-of.html#ixzz0iMGGMedh
Toyota Motors Sales USA in Torrance, Calif., had no comment on the lawsuit filed in Seattle.

Read more: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2010/03/16/1340753/couple-sues-toyota-on-behalf-of.html#ixzz0iMGA9Zer
Toyota owners have filed at least 89 class-action lawsuits that, if successful, could cost the Japanese auto giant $3 billion or more.
Information from:
The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com

Read more: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2010/03/16/1340753/couple-sues-toyota-on-behalf-of.html#ixzz0iMFxjuPq
http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2010/03/16/1340753/couple-sues-toyota-on-behalf-of.html


March 16, 2010

POSTED: Tuesday, Mar. 16, 2010

Settle Couple sues Toyota on behalf of Wash. customers

The Associated Press
Read more: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2010/03/16/1340753/couple-sues-toyota-on-behalf-of.html#ixzz0iMGKkZ9L

SEATTLE - A Seattle couple has sued Toyota, seeking to have the company take back the vehicle they just bought or reimburse them for lost value.

Dana and Douglas Eller filed the lawsuit Monday in federal court, seeking class action status on behalf of others who recently bought Toyotas.

The lawsuit claims the Ellers bought a 2009 RAV4 in September and a short time later received a recall notice and took the vehicle in for repairs. But after Toyota's much publicized recalls for acceleration problems, they say they tried to sell the car and were told its value is 20 percent less than what it was worth less than six months ago.

Read more: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2010/03/16/1340753/couple-sues-toyota-on-behalf-of.html#ixzz0iMGGMedh
Toyota Motors Sales USA in Torrance, Calif., had no comment on the lawsuit filed in Seattle.

Read more: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2010/03/16/1340753/couple-sues-toyota-on-behalf-of.html#ixzz0iMGA9Zer
Toyota owners have filed at least 89 class-action lawsuits that, if successful, could cost the Japanese auto giant $3 billion or more.
Information from:
The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com

Read more: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2010/03/16/1340753/couple-sues-toyota-on-behalf-of.html#ixzz0iMFxjuPq
http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2010/03/16/1340753/couple-sues-toyota-on-behalf-of.html



March 16, 2010

California DA Sues Toyota For Deceptive Business Practices

Monday, March 15, 2010 at 02:31 PM

The district attorney of Orange County, California, filed a lawsuit last week against Toyota, claiming that the troubled automaker sold thousands of cars with the knowledge that they had the potential for sudden acceleration.

Tony Rackauckas, who is serving his third term as Orange County's district attorney, said that the lawsuit was inspired by the demand to know if Toyota "put profits over people," Reuters reports.

He told reporters that his office has jurisdiction in the case because Toyota's U.S. headquarters is located in California.

Specifically, the suit alleges that Toyota violated the Unfair Business Practices Act, and seeks $2,500 per infringement.

"Toyota has for decades touted its reputation for safety and reliability and knew that people bought its vehicles because of that reputation, and yet purposefully chose to conceal and suppress the existence and nature of defects," the lawsuit contends.

Authorities investigating Toyota's recalled vehicles have linked unexpected acceleration to at least five deaths since 2007, and are reviewing another 47 fatalities over the past 10 years.

Over the weekend, members of Congress prepared a report that discounted the allegations of a Toyota Prius owner who claimed to have experienced the same acceleration problems linked to the Camry, Avalon and Tacoma models.

http://www.avvo.com/news/california-da-sues-toyota-for-deceptive-business-practices-742.html



March 16, 2010

Updated: 03/15/2010 10:16 PM KSTP.com

By: Susanna Song and Katie Lynn

Minn. law gives refund hope to Toyota owners

A state law gives some Minnesotans hope that they'll get money back for Toyota's accelerator problems.

Rob Ruf of Minnetonka said he nearly died when his Corolla sped out of control twice.

"All of a sudden something tripped and it just took off, even after I took my foot off the gas pedal," he said.

Ruf said he took his vehicle to a dealership both times he had the problem, but they couldn't find anything wrong.

Minnesotans experiencing the same problems don't need to feel helpless said Attorney Todd Gadtke. He explained under the Minnesota Lemon Law, Ruf can sue Toyota for a full refund, "if the vehicle is subject to repair an unreasonable number of times and the problems continue."

According to the Lemon Law, the car must be purchased in Minnesota, cannot be older than three years, and must be under a manufacturer's warranty.

"I just want this car out of my hands, off the road and preferably in no one's hands," Ruf said.

Gadtke and Ruf plan to file a lawsuit Tuesday.

http://kstp.com/news/stories/S1468026.shtml?cat=206


March 16, 2010

Posted: March 16, 2010

Cosmic rays offered as acceleration cause

BY JUSTIN HYDE
FREE PRESS WASHINGTON STAFF

Electronics makers have known for decades
about "single event upsets," computer errors
from radiation created when cosmic rays strike
the atmosphere.

With more than 3,000 complaints to U.S.
regulators of random sudden acceleration
problems in Toyota models, several researchers
say single event upsets deserve a close look.

The phenomenon can trigger software crashes
that come and go without a trace. Unlike
interference from radio waves, there's no way to
physically block particles; such errors typically
have to be prevented by a combination of
software and hardware design.

And an anonymous tipster told NHTSA last
month that "the automotive industry has yet to
truly anticipate SEUs."

Such radiation "occurs virtually anywhere," said
William Price, who spent 20 years at the Jet
Propulsion Lab testing for radiation effects on
electronics. "It doesn't happen in a certain locale
like you would expect in an electromagnetic
problem from a radio tower or something else."

Toyota staunchly defends its electronics, saying
they were designed for "absolute reliability."
Responding to the Free Press, Toyota said its
systems "are not the same as typical consumer
electronics. The durability, size, susceptibility
and specifications of the automotive electronics
make them robust against this type of
interference."

Testing for the problem would involve putting
vehicles in front of a particle accelerator and
showering them with radiation, a step that
experts said would help resolve the question.

"Nobody wants to come out and say we have
issues and we need to test," said Sung Chung,
president of the testing firm Eigenix.

The phenomenon was first noted in the 1950s
affecting electronics at high altitudes; unlike
electromagnetic waves, there are no ways to
physically shield circuits from such particles.
Airplane and spacecraft makers have long
designed their electronics with such radiation in
mind, through safeguards such as systems that
triple-check data.

Only in the late 1970s did researchers discover
that a minuscule portion of such radiation falls
to earth. It's not enough to harm humans, but as
circuits in computers and cell phones on the
ground have shrunk to the width of several
dozen atoms, the risk of errors has grown. "Five
years ago, it was a problem in very few
applications," said Olivier Lauzeral, general
manager of IRoC Technologies, which tests chips
and software for SEU resistance. "In the past
couple of years, we've seen a rise in demand and
interest."

In an anonymous e-mail last month to the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,
a tipster said such an error "may be one
reasonable explanation for incidents of sudden
acceleration," adding that the automotive
industry had yet to adapt the techniques used by
aircraft firms to prevent problems from SEUs.

NHTSA added the tipster's information to its
electronic investigative file on Toyota recalls.
The agency declined several requests from the
Free Press for comment.

Electronic throttle controls like the ones under
scrutiny in Toyotas are widespread in the
industry. They're more reliable than mechanical
links, they save weight and space, and make
other technology, like stability control, possible.

Contact JUSTIN HYDE: 202-906-8204 or
jhyde@freepress.com
http://www.freep.com/article/20100316/BUSINESS0104/3160360/1210/Business/Cosmic-rays-offered-as-acceleration-cause


March 16, 2010

Toyota cast doubt????? Again??? Why???

Update: Questions Surrounding Toyota Safety

A follow up to a Channel Six exclusive -- a heartland woman is recovering from injuries in a car crash. She says it happened because the accelerator in her Toyota was stuck.

Posted: 5:10 PM Mar 15, 2010
Reporter: Roger Hamer
Email Address: sixonline@wowt.com

A follow up to a Channel Six exclusive -- a heartland woman is recovering from injuries in a car crash. She says it happened because the accelerator in her Toyota was stuck.

Laura Wernimont says her 2007 Toyota Avalon suddenly accelerated to a dangerously high speed.

She was unable to stop and crashed into a school bus.

"It happened, so quick, there was nothing I could do to help. I could tell the bus was coming," she said.

Laura suffered severe injuries from the crash.

Her brother-in-law Bob Schroeder sits by her bedside.

"She's not that fast a driver," he said. "She only drives 20-25 miles and hour, hardly 55 on the highway."

So what happens now?

In California, officials unsuccessfully tried to recreate an incident where a Toyota Prius allegedly had a stuck accelerator.

It is recommended that drivers put the car in neutral or shut the engine off if the accelerator sticks.

We did our own re-creation with a 2008 Toyota Camry, .
With the accelerator pushed down, we were able to slip the car into neutral and the car slowed down.

Then, we shut the car off while accelerating...again, the engine revved, but the car stopped.

But there's another place to find information.

Most newer cars have a 'black box' or a series of computers that collect data.

Charlie graham body and service demonstrated the "black box" concept for us on a Cadillac.

As conditions with the mechanics of the car change the data is recorded. Information is stored if there is a crash. But getting access to that information can be difficult.

"Most times you have to get special equipment and laptop computers to be able to access that data, now different companies like GM and Ford are very user-friendly where third parties can come in and get that data, obviously with the owners consent," Jim Champion of Charlie Graham Body & Service said.

"But other ones like Toyota, it's turning out now, they're finding out it's pretty hard to get that data."

Meanwhile, Laura Wernimont lies in a hospital bed.

Hoping no one else has to experience what happened to her.

We contacted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration --- a representative there had no comment.

We also contacted Toyota's corporate offices for comment.

They sent the following statement..."Toyota is committed to investigating reports of unintended acceleration involving our vehicles. It is not appropriate for us to comment on specific reports whose causes are under investigation or have not been verified."

As for the incident involving the driver of that Prius in California who said his car unexpectedly accelerated to 94 miles an hours.

The incident grabbed national headlines -- and called into question potential problem's with Toyota's hybrid car..

Government investigators say they have not been able to duplicate the problem -- and cannot explain why the driver had trouble.

However, they also caution they don't see any signs of a hoax.

Toyota on the other hand is today casting doubt on the man's claims.

But the Orange County District Attorney has filed a lawsuit against Toyota Motors Inc., claiming the car company was aware of the potential for sudden acceleration in their vehicles and sold them anyway.

It is one of many brought against the automaker in the months following the massive recall of many Toyota models.

The lawsuit accuses Toyota of engaging in deceptive business practices by withholding information from the public about sudden acceleration problems.

The lawsuit seeks $2,500 per violation under the Unfair Business Practices Act.

http://www.wowt.com/news/headlines/87705317.html



March 16, 2010

Some Toyota drivers suing in US for a full refund

By CURT ANDERSON (AP) – 3 hours ago

MIAMI — A group of Toyota owners sued the Japanese automaker Monday, demanding a full refund for their recalled cars and seeking a payout that could exceed several billion dollars.

Dozens of Toyota owners in Arizona and Washington claim the vehicles recalled over incidents of sudden acceleration are so unsafe they should be able to return them immediately. Attorney Steve Berman said many of the owners no longer trust their vehicles.

"When we talked with Toyota owners, they all voiced the same desire — to drive the car back to the lot, hand them the keys and pick up a check," said Berman, who is based in Seattle. "Fortunately, we think the law allows for exactly that solution, and we are asking the courts to make it happen."

The new lawsuits seek class-action status, which if expanded nationwide, could mean a settlement covering about 6 million recalled Toyotas in the U.S.

Dozens of other potential class-action lawsuits have also been filed against Toyota since it began recalling millions of vehicles to fix floor mats the company says can snag on the accelerator in some models and gas pedals that can get stuck in others. Critics and lawsuits contend the real problem is Toyota's electronic throttle control, which the company has denied.

Most of the lawsuits contend the recalls have triggered a significant drop in the value of Toyotas — between 6 percent and 15 percent, according to the Kelley Blue Book used-car manual — and are seeking a cash payment for owners to compensate for that loss. Lawyers involved in those cases have estimated Toyota could have to cough up more than $3 billion, assuming a conservative $500-per-owner payment.

The full refund cases take it a step further.

"I don't know of any parent who would be willing to put their kids in a potentially unsafe car in exchange for a few hundred bucks," Berman said.

A Toyota spokesman did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment. Generally, the company has refused to comment on the lawsuits.

Matt Cairns, a private attorney and member a group of lawyers that represents corporations and individuals, said he didn't think the Toyota owners should be entitled to full refunds.

"If they prevail, such plaintiffs will effectively have received free transportation for the period of their ownership of a car that met their every need, something all of us would appreciate when we decide we want a new ride," said Cairns, who is the president-elect of The Voice of the Defense Bar.

Cairns said Toyota owners who sell their cars may be able to get compensation for a loss in the vehicle's value following the recall.

The full refund lawsuits come a week before a panel of federal judges will hold a hearing in San Diego on whether to consolidate more than 110 potential Toyota class-action cases before a single judge.

The judge would decide whether the cases can be combined into a single "class" of affected Toyota owners and whether the case should proceed to trial.

A group of attorneys filing Toyota cases nationwide — known as the Attorneys Toyota Action Consortium, or ATAC — announced Monday they are adding racketeering claims to many of their lawsuits.

The attorney coordinating the effort, Northeastern University law professor Tim Howard, said Toyota has known of accelerator problems since at least 2000 and engaged in a "conspiracy to hide the truth" from consumers.

"It's become increasingly apparent that Toyota profits were not built on quality products, but on a willful pattern of deception, fraud and racketeering," Howard said.

If fraud claims are successful under the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations or RICO law, Howard said, it could push total Toyota class-action damages above $10 billion.

Claims of fraud and deception have been made against Toyota in previous lawsuits, including one filed in California in July 2009 by a former Toyota employee. The newer lawsuits are based in part on documents obtained by investigative reporters and congressional committees looking into the company's recalls.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5imJf-xAYjZsiJx5KJN87X2aebzZQD9EFBVCG2



March 16, 2010

Connecticut - State wants answers from Toyota

3/15/2010, 12:40 p.m. PDT
The Associated Press
(AP) — MCT REGIONAL NEWS/BUSINESS
By Cara Baruzzi

New Haven Register, Conn.

Mar. 13--In light of several recent car crashes involving Toyotas in Connecticut, state officials are examining how the automaker is responding to the incidents.

Meanwhile, the company was sued Friday by prosecutors in California who claim the company knowingly sold vehicles with accelerator defects.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Friday he is investigating Toyota Motor Corp.'s response to three car crashes, one of which was fatal.

Toyota has recalled more than 8 million cars nationwide due to brake and acceleration problems. The accelerator problems, which have no pinpointed source yet, have been linked to 52 deaths nationwide.

Two of the three recent crashes in Connecticut reportedly involved 2007 Toyota Camrys, a make and model year included in the recall.

However, only certain cars -- with gas pedals made by a particular manufacturer, CTS Corp. in Indiana -- have been recalled for potential accelerator problems.

The other crash in the state reportedly involved a 2006 Camry.

Officials at Toyota could not be reached for comment on Blumenthal's investigation.

''Public safety demands Toyota investigate whether acknowledged accelerator defects played a role in these disturbing, in one case tragically fatal, accidents," Blumenthal said in a statement.

"Two vehicles involved in these accidents were apparently under recall, a wake-up call that Toyota must learn whether defective accelerators were a factor. Toyota has an ethical, moral and likely legal responsibility to investigate whether these crashes were caused by unwanted acceleration."

On March 10, a woman reportedly blamed a stuck gas pedal when her 2007 Camry crashed outside a New Britain church.

The next day, two crashes happened. In one, a 77-year-old man died after his 2007 Camry went through a guardrail and into a ditch in Torrington.

In the other, a 2006 Camry crashed and rolled over in Middletown, and witnesses claimed they heard the car's engine rev prior to the crash.

Meanwhile, media reports began circulating Friday that an "out of control" 2008 Toyota Prius in California earlier this week may have been a hoax, with the driver falsely blaming a faulty gas pedal.

Prosecutors in Orange County, Calif., filed a lawsuit Friday against Toyota in which the district office accuses the automaker of knowingly selling vehicles with acceleration defects.

The office said it is bringing consumer protective action on behalf of Orange County residents.

T o y o t a spokesman Mike Michels had no comment on that matter, since the company had not been served with the lawsuit Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. Cara Baruzzi can be reached at 203-789-5748 or cbaruzzi@newhavenregister. com.

To see more of New Haven Register, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.nhregister.com.

http://www.oregonlive.com/newsflash/index.ssf?/base/business-63/1268686102108060.xml&storylist=business&thispage=2

March 16, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010, 2:50pm CDT | Modified: Monday, March 15, 2010, 3:37pm

Kansas City lawyer files class-action lawsuits against Toyota

Kansas City Business Journal

Kansas City lawyer Neil Sader, The Sader Law Firm, has filed class-action lawsuits on behalf of Toyota owners in both Kansas and Missouri.
The lawsuits, filed separately in federal courts in Kansas and Missouri on Friday afternoon, are in response to Toyota’s massive recall of various vehicle models for safety issues.

Sader’s lawsuits zero in on so-called “sticky accelerator” issues, which allege that Toyota models in question had accelerators that stayed depressed even after the drivers stopped pushing the pedals, or accelerators that caught on the floor mats.

Moreover, the lawsuits claim that Toyota knew about the safety issues as far back as 2002, yet avoided recalling the automobiles and in 2004 tried to downplay the safety issues in a meeting with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The plaintiffs include various Kansas City-area residents, as well as a potential class.

One plaintiff, who owned a 2006 Toyota Camry, alleges that she was parking her car in front of Avenues Bistro in Brookside when the defective accelerator caused her to suddenly and unexpectedly accelerate over a curb and crash into the front of the restaurant.
Her repair bill from that accident was $8,346.

The lawsuits seek to recover damages from accidents as well as compensation for the dropping values of the automobiles in light of all the negative attention Toyota has received since the recall.

The number of vehicles recalled is believed to run into the millions globally.

Sader is part of a consortium of plaintiffs lawyers nationwide who are filing cases in various jurisdictions related to the Toyota recall.

Those cases probably will be consolidated into multi-district litigation.

http://www.bizjournals.com/kansascity/stories/2010/03/15/daily10.html

March 15, 2010

2010 Toyota Tundra Four-Wheel-Drive Trucks Recalled

March 16, 2010

Toyota is recalling 2010 Toyota Tundra vehicles with four-wheel drive.

There may be an improper weld at the union of the propeller shaft and yoke, the company said. The joint could separate, causing loss of control.
Dealers will replace the defective shaft free of charge when the recall begins during March 2010.

Owners may contact Toyota at 1-800-331-4331.

Consumers may contact the National Highway Traffic Safety

Administration (NHTSA) at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY: 1-800-424-9153) or at www.safercar.gov.
Read more: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/recalls04/2010/toyota_tundra.html#ixzz0iIwyhp7s
http://www.consumeraffairs.com/recalls04/2010/toyota_tundra.html
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 5:12 pm    Post subject: No Recall For A Toyota Is Small Any More!!! Too Many Lies!!! Reply with quote

No Recall For A Toyota Is Small Any More!!! Too Many Lies!!!

Web Posted: 03/24/2010 5:41 CDT

Tiny Toyota recall: 2 built in S.A.

By David Saleh Rauf - Express-News

Call it the mini recall.

Toyota Motor Corp., already dogged by global recalls of more than 8 million vehicles in the past six months, is adding two more to its list.
Nope, not two vehicle lines, but a pair of pickups.

In what could be one of the smallest recalls in the U.S. auto industry's history, Toyota voluntarily is recalling two 2010 Tundra pickups built in San Antonio because of a defect in the front propeller shaft, according to documents filed this month with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said the automaker is in the process of sending letters to both affected Tundra owners but couldn't comment on where they are located. Toyota will replace the front propeller shaft for free on both vehicles, he said.

“I would have to say this ties for the smallest; if not, it is the smallest recall we've ever done,” Lyons said, adding the minimum number of vehicles required for a recall is two.

Toyota said in documents that “there is a possibility that an improper weld exists at the union of the propeller shaft and yoke.” That weld, Toyota says, could cause the front propeller shaft to fall off the pickup, potentially causing drivers to lose control of the vehicle.

A virtually identical problem was identified in February in 8,000 2010 Tacomas, causing Toyota to initiate a recall on those pickups.In both cases, Toyota traced the problem to parts supplied by Dana Holding Corp. Toyota discovered the problem in the Tundras at its San Antonio factory after a front propeller shaft separated during “dynamometer” testing, which measures a vehicle's torque.

Dana launched an investigation and concluded that the potentially defective parts were produced Oct. 20 and 21. As a result, Toyota tracked all the Tundras equipped with a propeller shaft built by Dana on those dates and held 500 pickups at its South Side plant until they were fixed.

But two were delivered to dealers and sold.

Normally, a defect in only two vehicles wouldn't garner attention, and Toyota could resolve the issue with the owners without a recall, said Jessica Caldwell, a senior analyst at auto Web site Edmunds.com. But times are different for the world's largest automaker, she said.

“If there's anything wrong with any Toyota at this point, they're going to do a recall,” she said. “They don't want to look like they're neglecting any problems. They have to look like they're engaged.”

http://www.mysanantonio.com/business/automotive/The_tiniest_recall_of_all_time.html



Mar 24, 2010

Public opinion of Toyota's quality plummets in new survey

Yet another survey points to bad news for Toyota: A pollster says findings show Toyota has crushed its quality reputation.

In two short years, Americans having a positive perception of Toyota's commitment to building quality cars has plummeted to 21.8% from over 80%, according to the findings of the latest survey by Britt Beemer at the BeemerReport.com

Only 31.8% of Americans believe Toyota can rebuild its quality image, the verdict is still out about their ability to recover. Some 22.1% are undecided whether they can rebuild the quality image and 18% don't think Toyota will be able to do it.

"While their reputation is on the line, Toyota's problems don't stop there because buyers are now wary of the Toyota brand," says Beemer. "Toyota has some real selling to do just to convince current Toyota car owners to buy another one."

But will current Toyota owners save the day?

Maybe, the survey finds. The survey revealed that consumers who have purchased Toyotas in the past are evenly divided about whether they will buy another one in the future or not. Of these potential buyers, 52.6% will no longer consider buying a Toyota car in the future.

American car manufacturers may ultimately be the benefactors of Toyota's quality issues, according to Beemer.

Due to Toyota's quality issues, 69.1% of car buyers are more likely to purchase an American-made automobile. That number is up from 38% two years ago.

The survey comes from 1,000 telephone interviews conducted Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 1214, from ARG headquarters in Charleston, S.C. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2010/03/public-opinion-of-toyotas-quality-plummets-in-new-survey/1

Story of Runaway Toyota Prius Questioned by NHTSA and Toyota

March 24, 2010

More issues are surfacing in regards to the runaway Prius story from last week involving momentary celebrity James Sikes, whose runaway incident in a 2008 Toyota Prius made headlines for days.

Last week, Jalopnik reported on the financial troubles of Sikes, who filed for bankruptcy in 2008. The courts took his Mercedes, a Dodge Ram, a boat, and a motor home leaving him just the Prius for transportation to share with his wife.

The Prius that was involved in the freeway incident is a lease vehicle due for return soon, which would leave Sikes without a vehicle.

USA Today reports that Sikes does not plan to file a lawsuit against Toyota, but does hope to secure a new car out of the ordeal. A new car could certainly be in order if the runaway event was proved to be caused by an actual vehicle fault.

However, his account of the events has not been confirmed yet. Indeed, Toyota and the NTHSA have said that the facts appear to be leaning against his story, as the vehicle apparently cannot do what Sikes states occurred during the incident.

Before releasing official findings, Toyota and the NHTSA have decided to tear down the 2008 Prius in question and test all system to determine if anything is faulty and could have led to the ordeal.

Toyota questions the truthfulness of Sike's story and has publicly noted that the Prius, if operating correctly, has a brake override system in place that prevents engine rpm from increasing when the brake is applied.

The investigation is still ongoing, but many questions remain unresolved.

We will provide further updates as Toyota and the NHTSA delve deeper into the Prius and present their findings.

[Jalopnik, USA Today via Detroit Free Press]
http://www.allcarselectric.com/blog/1043599_toyota-prius-woes-continue-to-build


Two Videos

David Letterman – Toyota CEO’s Road Rage

http://glood.tv/news-politics-videos/david-letterman-toyota-ceos-road-rage.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=david-letterman-toyota-ceos-road-rage


David Letterman - Toyota CEO Sets The Record Straight

http://www.bing.com/videos/?FORM=MFEVID&publ=2BE19A43-506C-4905-B386-894988BC18EB&crea=STND_MFEVID_core_HuffPo_CustomVidLink_1x1&q=toyota+letterman+&docid=1727789466108#

Go to page:
http://www.tv.com/video/9fKTWuNY4o6pLQGRewaIG4bpmR3qbdAH/?o=cbs



New trial sought in fatal St. Paul Toyota crash

Attorneys for a St. Paul driver serving time for a crash that killed 3 presented accounts from 16 drivers alleging sudden acceleration.

By CHAO XIONG, Star Tribune
Last update: March 24, 2010 - 11:12 PM

The attorney for a man convicted of crashing his Toyota into another car and killing three people filed a petition Wednesday in Ramsey County District Court, asking for a new trial and his client's release from prison.
Brent Schafer is asking for "post-conviction relief" for Koua Fong Lee, based on new evidence of sudden acceleration of Toyota models that weren't part of the company's recent record-breaking recall.

Lee, 32, has maintained that his brakes couldn't stop his 1996 Camry from accelerating on its own and crashing in June 2006.

Lee, of St. Paul, was convicted of criminal vehicular homicide and is serving an eight-year sentence in Lino Lakes. New life was breathed into his case when Toyota recalled millions of cars due to possible sudden acceleration.

"This is not about whether he's guilty or not guilty of these charges," Schafer said. "He's been found guilty. This is about did the jury hear all of the relevant evidence and important evidence during the first trial? Mr. Lee is entitled to another shot at this.

"This evidence was not known. If it had been known, the outcome, I'm sure, would have been different."

Included in Schafer's petition are affidavits from 16 other Toyota drivers who say they experienced sudden acceleration. Five drove 1996 Camrys.
In one affidavit, the driver of a 1996 Toyota Camry LE reports sudden acceleration on a Wisconsin freeway ramp in 2008:

"The vehicle began to rapidly accelerate on its own. For the first second or two it did not matter because I needed to accelerate to get onto the freeway. However, once on the freeway, it would not stop accelerating. I do not know exactly how fast the vehicle accelerated up to, but I estimate it got to between 110 to 120 mph.

"I initially thought the gas pedal might be stuck down, but the gas pedal was fine. I slammed on the brakes, but that only slowed it down a tiny bit."

According to that affidavit, the car remained at high speed for eight miles, during which the driver put the car in neutral three times and stood on the brake with both feet in attempts to stop it.

Lee was driving his family home from church June 10, 2006, traveling about 55 miles per hour on Interstate 94 before he took the Snelling exit and his car accelerated.

It struck several cars before hitting an Oldsmobile Ciera and killing the driver, Javis Adams, 33; his son, Javis Jr., 10 and badly injuring Adam's niece, Devyn Bolton, who died in 2007 at age 7. Two other people were injured.

Lee's car model is not included in Toyota's recall.

Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner said her office will respond to Schafer's petition within the 20 days required by law.

"We're taking this very seriously," she said.

Lee's car will be re-inspected by experts on April 20 and 21.

Chao Xiong • 612-673-4391

http://www.startribune.com/local/stpaul/89035987.html?elr=KArksDyycyUtyycyUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUU


FEDERAL OFFICIALS FINISH TESTING OF TOYOTA RAV4

MARCH 25, 2010

SOUTH YARMOUTH — INVESTIGATORS FROM THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION COMPLETED THEIR REVIEW YESTERDAY OF A YARMOUTH CRASH INVOLVING A 2010 TOYOTA RAV4. THEY ARE EXPECTED TO RELEASE THE RESULTS OF THE INVESTIGATION WITHIN A MONTH, ACCORDING TO THE YARMOUTH POLICE.

THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY OFFICERS, IN TOWN YESTERDAY AND THE DAY BEFORE, CONDUCTED EXTENSIVE TESTING OF THE VEHICLE THAT CRASHED INTO THE SEASIDE MEDICAL BUILDING AT 150 ANSEL HALLETT ROAD.

FAMILY MEMBERS OF THE DRIVER, ANN WILKINS, 70, OF HARWICH, SAID AFTER THE CRASH THAT SHE APPLIED THE BRAKE BUT THE RAV 4 ACCELERATED INTO THE BUILDING.

WILKINS WAS TREATED FOR MINOR INJURIES AT CAPE COD HOSPITAL. NOBODY ELSE WAS HURT IN THE CRASH.

IN JANUARY, TOYOTA RECALLED MORE THAN 2 MILLION VEHICLES, INCLUDING 2009 AND 2010 RAV4S, FOR FAULTY ACCELERATORS.

AN INITIAL REVIEW BY THE YARMOUTH POLICE SOON AFTER THE CRASH FOUND THAT BOTH THE GAS AND BRAKE PEDALS WERE WORKING PROPERLY. THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY TEAM WILL RELEASE THE RESULTS OF ITS INVESTIGATION WITHIN TWO TO FOUR WEEKS, ACCORDING TO YARMOUTH POLICE OFFICIALS.

HTTP://WWW.CAPECODONLINE.COM/APPS/PBCS.DLL/ARTICLE?AID=/20100325/NEWS/3250319/-1/NEWS11






Ripple Effects of Toyota NUMMI Plant Closure Reach Far

Dennis Shanahan FOX40 News
March 23, 2010

MODESTO - At 60-years-old, Richard Galvan of Modesto is not ready to retire. But he will be out of work when Toyota's NUMMI plant in Fremont closes at the end of this month. Richard has worked as a team leader in the factory's body shop since 1985.

"My goal is to not lose my home," Galvan told FOX40 Tuesday night. "I don't want it to go to a foreclosure. I have several of my grandkids living with me And if the home goes, where do we go?"

A total of 4700 workers are losing their jobs at the NUMMI plant. By some estimates, an additional 50,000 jobs could be lost statewide from companies that supplied parts to NUMMI. Trim Masters Inc. (TMI) in Modesto is one of those companies. 186 people will be out of work when TMI shuts down after this month.

Across Yosemite Boulevard from TMI, FOX40 visited a Crispy Eggroll, a unique restaurant that opened seven months ago and has enjoyed a good amount of business from TMI workers on their lunch break. The restaurant will continue without them, but it serves as an example of how a plant shutdown in the Bay Area has far reaching ripple effects.

Back at Richard Galvan's home, there are bigger concerns. "Is there gonna' be work available for us?" Galvan hopes employers will look beyond his age, and value his skills and experience. He will receive a lump sum when NUMMI closes, but he says it's not enough to support his family, especially after he estimates 41% of it will be taken out for taxes.

http://www.fox40.com/news/headlines/ktxl-news-nummiworkers,0,2548303.story


NUMMI shutdown hits Central Valley hard

Thursday, March 25, 2010
By Dale Kasler
dkasler@sacbee.com

TRACY – When California is hurting, much of the pain usually falls on the Central Valley. So it's no surprise that the biggest layoff of the recession in California will hit the Valley hard.

The imminent closure of Toyota Motor Corp.'s NUMMI auto factory in the East Bay is creating serious spillover effects. It will erase thousands of manufacturing jobs in the Valley, a region where unemployment already tops 18 percent once you get south of Sacramento.

Phanna Kang is among those headed toward an uncertain future. He's worked the past eight years at Pacific Coast MS Industries in Tracy, a Japanese-owned company that makes air ducts and fuel and brake lines for NUMMI. The Tracy plant will close when the last Toyota rolls off the assembly line at NUMMI on March 31.

Kang, the father of a 3-year-old daughter, was already struggling to pay the mortgage on his Modesto home. Now he's pretty sure he won't be able to pay.

"I'm going to lose the home," he said.

Pacific Coast, which employs 130 workers, is one of several Valley auto-parts plants that sprang up to serve NUMMI and are now headed for oblivion. The Tracy plant opened in 1984, the same year as NUMMI.
"How do you work on closing a factory? This is something I had never done before," said Jasper Bullock Jr., 50, general manager of the Pacific Coast plant.

The NUMMI disaster will hit the Valley in several ways. At least 1,200 Valley residents commute to Fremont to work at NUMMI directly. An unknown number of Valley residents work at Bay Area plants that make parts for NUMMI. And at least 1,000 work for parts manufacturers in the Valley itself, like Pacific Coast.

Throw in the "multiplier effect" – the jobs that vanish when laid-off workers curtail their spending in restaurants, stores, etc. – and the total job loss in the Valley will hit 6,000 over the next few months, said economist Jeff Michael of the University of the Pacific.

Michael estimates the total statewide job loss at 20,000, including the multiplier effect. NUMMI itself employs around 4,500 workers.

Michael said the ripple effects from NUMMI will eliminate about 5 percent of San Joaquin County's factory jobs. But the impact goes beyond the numbers. The layoffs will stifle the region's efforts to diversify its manufacturing base beyond food processing and construction materials, he said.

"This is devastating," said Debbie Duplichan, a rapid-response coordinator at the WorkNet jobs agency in San Joaquin County. "I don't think anybody truly has their head around what's going to happen – the economic impact is going to be substantial."

Unemployment stands at 18.4 percent in the Stockton area and 18.9 percent in Modesto.

The last auto plant in California, NUMMI, or New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., once stood as a symbol of the revival of American automaking. The Fremont plant was closed by General Motors Corp. in 1982 and reopened two years later by NUMMI, a joint venture between GM and Toyota.

The plant was a model of efficiency. But when auto sales plummeted last year, NUMMI's production fell by 25 percent. The plant's existence was further imperiled when GM pulled out of the joint venture following its bankruptcy reorganization. Toyota announced last August that the plant, which makes Corollas and Tacomas, was closing, with production moving to Canada, Texas and Japan.

Labor leaders and some elected officials held out hope that Toyota, its reputation shattered by a recall crisis, would reverse its decision and keep the plant open to generate good will. But the automaker held firm.
In recent weeks the Valley parts factories, many of them owned by Japanese companies and dedicated almost entirely to supplying NUMMI, have announced their closures. Among those shutting down is Kyoho Manufacturing of California, a Toyota subsidiary that arrived in Stockton just two years ago to make stamped and welded body parts. It employs 154 workers.

"They showed up in 2008 and here they are shutting down in 2010," Michael said. "It's a … sign of how unanticipated the collapse of the auto industry was."

Pacific Coast tried to save itself in spite of the NUMMI shutdown. The Tracy plant dedicates about 5 percent of its production to Toyota plants in Canada and Mexico, and Bullock explored the possibility of making parts for a Toyota truck plant in Texas.

Ultimately, the plant was done in by geography. A sister facility in Kentucky makes parts for Toyota plants in the Midwest and South, and shipping finished parts halfway across the country from California didn't make sense.

The Tracy plant, spread across three buildings just north of Interstate 205, remains busy even as the final days approach. Black plastic tubing is molded into brake and fuel lines; larger pieces become ducts for the air conditioning system. Asphalt is used to make pliable mats placed inside doors to muffle street noise.

"It's a hard laboring job but it pays the bills," said John Thor, 27, an employee who lives in Modesto. He said he might try to go back to school to become an electrician when Pacific Coast closes.

The last day of production in Tracy will be March 30. The next day, a caterer and disc jockey will be brought in for the plant's final day of existence.

"We're having a party on the 31st," Bullock said, dabbing his eyes. "It's over with and we're going to have a party."

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2010/03/24/2629168/nummi-shutdown-hits-central-valley.html#ixzz0jDr2P1f0
http://www.sacbee.com/2010/03/24/2629168/nummi-shutdown-hits-central-valley.html

Bonnie Fuller having Toyota trouble

Last Updated: 12:47 AM, March 24, 2010

Bonnie Fuller is another Toyota owner having car trouble.

The HollywoodLife.com editor-in-chief posted on Twitter yesterday morning that her year-old Toyota Highlander Hybrid burst into flames while her husband was picking up their kids from play dates near their Hastings-on-Hudson home.

"Suddenly smoke coming from under hood. He pulls over -- lifts hood + flames jump out. Turns into big fire," Fuller wrote. Luckily, no one was hurt. "No kids in car . . . Can u believe?

This happen to anyone else?

Any one else's Toyota suddenly go up in flames." Toyota did respond back to her Tweets immediately, saying, "Hi Bonnie. Have you contacted our Customer Experience Center? 800-331-4331." Fuller didn't call us back to let us know if she had.
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/bonnie_burning_toyota_LsAtTfl3rRcMkqjA2WSeSM#ixzz0jDnF9qfn

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/bonnie_burning_toyota_LsAtTfl3rRcMkqjA2WSeSM#ixzz0jDnFHOa6

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/bonnie_burning_toyota_LsAtTfl3rRcMkqjA2WSeSM#ixzz0jDn0VZdQ
http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/bonnie_burning_toyota_LsAtTfl3rRcMkqjA2WSeSM


US panel considers location for Toyota lawsuits

US panel considers where to consolidate Toyota lawsuits claiming plummeting vehicle values

Curt Anderson, AP Legal Affairs Writer, On Thursday March 25, 2010, 2:00 pm

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Attorneys for Toyota are asking a panel of federal judges to consolidate more than 200 lawsuits involving sudden acceleration problems before a single judge in Los Angeles.

Toyota lawyer Cari Dawson told the U.S. Panel on Multidistrict Litigation at a hearing in San Diego on Thursday that the company favors combining dozens of personal injury and wrongful death cases nationwide in the California court.

The company also says the same court should handle all the potential class-action lawsuits filed around the country claiming safety recalls caused the value of Toyota vehicles to fall.

Attorneys say there are currently 138 potential class-action lawsuits concerning vehicle values and about 97 personal injury and wrongful death cases against Toyota Motor Corp. in federal courts.

The panel expects to make a decision in about two weeks.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- A special panel of U.S. federal judges is being asked Thursday to consolidate before a single court dozens of proposed class-action lawsuits filed by Toyota owners who say the value of their vehicles has plummeted after millions were recalled for safety fixes.

The decision, expected in about two weeks by the seven-member U.S. Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, will set the stage for eventual trial or settlement of the roughly 100 cases filed nationwide, which could potentially cost Toyota billions of dollars in damages.

"Somebody is going to get this thing. It is going to be a ton of work," said attorney David R. Cohen of Cleveland, who has been appointed frequently as a "special master" to assist judges in similar cases.

The judge who is chosen will make several key decisions, including whether all Toyota owners affected by the recalls should be treated as a single class that could be paid for the vehicles' lost value. Toyota also is expected to ask for dismissal of the case.

Before that, however, the panel must decide where to send the lawsuits. Toyota favors Los Angeles federal court, near its U.S. headquarters in Torrance, but 18 other jurisdictions have been suggested including Florida, Kentucky, Ohio, New Jersey, and even Puerto Rico.

The lawsuits have been popping up in court dockets nationwide following Toyota's recalls involving around 8 million vehicles, including about 6 million in the U.S. There are also separate lawsuits filed by crash victims and family members, as well as by investors who blame Toyota stock losses on the recalls.

Toyota, which declined comment before Thursday's hearing, has blamed the sudden acceleration problems on floor mats and accelerators that sometimes stick. Most of the owner lawsuits, however, trace the incidents to faulty electronic throttle controls that they say Toyota has been aware of and covered up for nearly a decade.

Toyota has repeatedly denied its electronics are the cause.

Similar lawsuits filed in different locations are frequently centralized in one place. Currently, about 92,000 lawsuits -- 48,000 of them involving cancer-causing asbestos -- have been consolidated by the Multidistrict Litigation panel before 240 federal judges, according to the panel's Web site.

Associated Press writer Greg Risling contributed to this story.
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/US-panel-considers-location-apf-1197360825.html?x=0

Guangxi recalls 713 Chinese made Toyota RAV4sLevel of risk varies between Chinas North and South.

Publish date: Mar 24, 2010

According to the Toyota dealers in Guangxi, China, 713 domestically produced Toyota RAV4s sold in the region are included in this recall. But so far, no cars of this model have clumped together in Toyota stores for the recall.

When interviewing Tianjin FAW Toyota Motor's local dealers Nanning Zhongda Toyota, Nanning Guangyuan Toyota and Tianxiaxing Toyota, reporters found that the recall of Chinese made RAV4s with accelerator pedal flaws is proceeding ahead of schedule in Guangxi with some dealers having completed the defective parts replacement on half of the recalled vehicles.

The accelerator pedal flaw has prompted the recall of 75,552 RAV4s across the country, including 713 units in Guangxi (more than 300 cars from Nanning Zhongda, 280 from Guangyuan and six from Tianxiaxing).
The three dealers have notified RAV4 owners about the recall through SMS, letters and phone calls, with some other dealers having finished 30 to 50 percent of their maintenance tasks.

According to engineers interviewed, the climatic differences between the Northern and the Southern parts of the country should be considered when addressing security vulnerabilities resulting from a potential flaw in the model's accelerator pedal. When driving the car during the dry and cold days of winter in the Northern half of the country, the friction increases due to the icy roads, so the pedals may begin to stick and release instead of operating smoothly. One solution has been provided: a precision-cut steel reinforcement bar will be installed into the accelerator pedal assembly, eliminating the excess friction that has caused pedals to stick in rare instances.

However, there are few such cases in the South, especially in Nanning and its surrounding areas. Relative risks will be eliminated as long as the vehicles are taken to the stores for the fix.

http://motorage.search-autoparts.com/motorage/Industry+News/Guangxi-recalls-713-Chinese-made-Toyota-RAV4s/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/662299?contextCategoryId=43145
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 5:15 pm    Post subject: No Recall For A Toyota Is Small Any More!!! Too Many Lies!!! Reply with quote

No Recall For A Toyota Is Small Any More!!! Too Many Lies!!!

Web Posted: 03/24/2010 5:41 CDT

Tiny Toyota recall: 2 built in S.A.

By David Saleh Rauf - Express-News

Call it the mini recall.

Toyota Motor Corp., already dogged by global recalls of more than 8 million vehicles in the past six months, is adding two more to its list.
Nope, not two vehicle lines, but a pair of pickups.

In what could be one of the smallest recalls in the U.S. auto industry's history, Toyota voluntarily is recalling two 2010 Tundra pickups built in San Antonio because of a defect in the front propeller shaft, according to documents filed this month with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said the automaker is in the process of sending letters to both affected Tundra owners but couldn't comment on where they are located. Toyota will replace the front propeller shaft for free on both vehicles, he said.

“I would have to say this ties for the smallest; if not, it is the smallest recall we've ever done,” Lyons said, adding the minimum number of vehicles required for a recall is two.

Toyota said in documents that “there is a possibility that an improper weld exists at the union of the propeller shaft and yoke.” That weld, Toyota says, could cause the front propeller shaft to fall off the pickup, potentially causing drivers to lose control of the vehicle.

A virtually identical problem was identified in February in 8,000 2010 Tacomas, causing Toyota to initiate a recall on those pickups.In both cases, Toyota traced the problem to parts supplied by Dana Holding Corp. Toyota discovered the problem in the Tundras at its San Antonio factory after a front propeller shaft separated during “dynamometer” testing, which measures a vehicle's torque.

Dana launched an investigation and concluded that the potentially defective parts were produced Oct. 20 and 21. As a result, Toyota tracked all the Tundras equipped with a propeller shaft built by Dana on those dates and held 500 pickups at its South Side plant until they were fixed.

But two were delivered to dealers and sold.

Normally, a defect in only two vehicles wouldn't garner attention, and Toyota could resolve the issue with the owners without a recall, said Jessica Caldwell, a senior analyst at auto Web site Edmunds.com. But times are different for the world's largest automaker, she said.

“If there's anything wrong with any Toyota at this point, they're going to do a recall,” she said. “They don't want to look like they're neglecting any problems. They have to look like they're engaged.”

http://www.mysanantonio.com/business/automotive/The_tiniest_recall_of_all_time.html



Mar 24, 2010

Public opinion of Toyota's quality plummets in new survey

Yet another survey points to bad news for Toyota: A pollster says findings show Toyota has crushed its quality reputation.

In two short years, Americans having a positive perception of Toyota's commitment to building quality cars has plummeted to 21.8% from over 80%, according to the findings of the latest survey by Britt Beemer at the BeemerReport.com

Only 31.8% of Americans believe Toyota can rebuild its quality image, the verdict is still out about their ability to recover. Some 22.1% are undecided whether they can rebuild the quality image and 18% don't think Toyota will be able to do it.

"While their reputation is on the line, Toyota's problems don't stop there because buyers are now wary of the Toyota brand," says Beemer. "Toyota has some real selling to do just to convince current Toyota car owners to buy another one."

But will current Toyota owners save the day?

Maybe, the survey finds. The survey revealed that consumers who have purchased Toyotas in the past are evenly divided about whether they will buy another one in the future or not. Of these potential buyers, 52.6% will no longer consider buying a Toyota car in the future.

American car manufacturers may ultimately be the benefactors of Toyota's quality issues, according to Beemer.

Due to Toyota's quality issues, 69.1% of car buyers are more likely to purchase an American-made automobile. That number is up from 38% two years ago.

The survey comes from 1,000 telephone interviews conducted Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 1214, from ARG headquarters in Charleston, S.C. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2010/03/public-opinion-of-toyotas-quality-plummets-in-new-survey/1

Story of Runaway Toyota Prius Questioned by NHTSA and Toyota

March 24, 2010

More issues are surfacing in regards to the runaway Prius story from last week involving momentary celebrity James Sikes, whose runaway incident in a 2008 Toyota Prius made headlines for days.

Last week, Jalopnik reported on the financial troubles of Sikes, who filed for bankruptcy in 2008. The courts took his Mercedes, a Dodge Ram, a boat, and a motor home leaving him just the Prius for transportation to share with his wife.

The Prius that was involved in the freeway incident is a lease vehicle due for return soon, which would leave Sikes without a vehicle.

USA Today reports that Sikes does not plan to file a lawsuit against Toyota, but does hope to secure a new car out of the ordeal. A new car could certainly be in order if the runaway event was proved to be caused by an actual vehicle fault.

However, his account of the events has not been confirmed yet. Indeed, Toyota and the NTHSA have said that the facts appear to be leaning against his story, as the vehicle apparently cannot do what Sikes states occurred during the incident.

Before releasing official findings, Toyota and the NHTSA have decided to tear down the 2008 Prius in question and test all system to determine if anything is faulty and could have led to the ordeal.

Toyota questions the truthfulness of Sike's story and has publicly noted that the Prius, if operating correctly, has a brake override system in place that prevents engine rpm from increasing when the brake is applied.

The investigation is still ongoing, but many questions remain unresolved.

We will provide further updates as Toyota and the NHTSA delve deeper into the Prius and present their findings.

[Jalopnik, USA Today via Detroit Free Press]
http://www.allcarselectric.com/blog/1043599_toyota-prius-woes-continue-to-build


Two Videos

David Letterman – Toyota CEO’s Road Rage

http://glood.tv/news-politics-videos/david-letterman-toyota-ceos-road-rage.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=david-letterman-toyota-ceos-road-rage


David Letterman - Toyota CEO Sets The Record Straight

http://www.bing.com/videos/?FORM=MFEVID&publ=2BE19A43-506C-4905-B386-894988BC18EB&crea=STND_MFEVID_core_HuffPo_CustomVidLink_1x1&q=toyota+letterman+&docid=1727789466108#

Go to page:
http://www.tv.com/video/9fKTWuNY4o6pLQGRewaIG4bpmR3qbdAH/?o=cbs



New trial sought in fatal St. Paul Toyota crash

Attorneys for a St. Paul driver serving time for a crash that killed 3 presented accounts from 16 drivers alleging sudden acceleration.

By CHAO XIONG, Star Tribune
Last update: March 24, 2010 - 11:12 PM

The attorney for a man convicted of crashing his Toyota into another car and killing three people filed a petition Wednesday in Ramsey County District Court, asking for a new trial and his client's release from prison.
Brent Schafer is asking for "post-conviction relief" for Koua Fong Lee, based on new evidence of sudden acceleration of Toyota models that weren't part of the company's recent record-breaking recall.

Lee, 32, has maintained that his brakes couldn't stop his 1996 Camry from accelerating on its own and crashing in June 2006.

Lee, of St. Paul, was convicted of criminal vehicular homicide and is serving an eight-year sentence in Lino Lakes. New life was breathed into his case when Toyota recalled millions of cars due to possible sudden acceleration.

"This is not about whether he's guilty or not guilty of these charges," Schafer said. "He's been found guilty. This is about did the jury hear all of the relevant evidence and important evidence during the first trial? Mr. Lee is entitled to another shot at this.

"This evidence was not known. If it had been known, the outcome, I'm sure, would have been different."

Included in Schafer's petition are affidavits from 16 other Toyota drivers who say they experienced sudden acceleration. Five drove 1996 Camrys.
In one affidavit, the driver of a 1996 Toyota Camry LE reports sudden acceleration on a Wisconsin freeway ramp in 2008:

"The vehicle began to rapidly accelerate on its own. For the first second or two it did not matter because I needed to accelerate to get onto the freeway. However, once on the freeway, it would not stop accelerating. I do not know exactly how fast the vehicle accelerated up to, but I estimate it got to between 110 to 120 mph.

"I initially thought the gas pedal might be stuck down, but the gas pedal was fine. I slammed on the brakes, but that only slowed it down a tiny bit."

According to that affidavit, the car remained at high speed for eight miles, during which the driver put the car in neutral three times and stood on the brake with both feet in attempts to stop it.

Lee was driving his family home from church June 10, 2006, traveling about 55 miles per hour on Interstate 94 before he took the Snelling exit and his car accelerated.

It struck several cars before hitting an Oldsmobile Ciera and killing the driver, Javis Adams, 33; his son, Javis Jr., 10 and badly injuring Adam's niece, Devyn Bolton, who died in 2007 at age 7. Two other people were injured.

Lee's car model is not included in Toyota's recall.

Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner said her office will respond to Schafer's petition within the 20 days required by law.

"We're taking this very seriously," she said.

Lee's car will be re-inspected by experts on April 20 and 21.

Chao Xiong • 612-673-4391

http://www.startribune.com/local/stpaul/89035987.html?elr=KArksDyycyUtyycyUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUU


FEDERAL OFFICIALS FINISH TESTING OF TOYOTA RAV4

MARCH 25, 2010

SOUTH YARMOUTH — INVESTIGATORS FROM THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION COMPLETED THEIR REVIEW YESTERDAY OF A YARMOUTH CRASH INVOLVING A 2010 TOYOTA RAV4. THEY ARE EXPECTED TO RELEASE THE RESULTS OF THE INVESTIGATION WITHIN A MONTH, ACCORDING TO THE YARMOUTH POLICE.

THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY OFFICERS, IN TOWN YESTERDAY AND THE DAY BEFORE, CONDUCTED EXTENSIVE TESTING OF THE VEHICLE THAT CRASHED INTO THE SEASIDE MEDICAL BUILDING AT 150 ANSEL HALLETT ROAD.

FAMILY MEMBERS OF THE DRIVER, ANN WILKINS, 70, OF HARWICH, SAID AFTER THE CRASH THAT SHE APPLIED THE BRAKE BUT THE RAV 4 ACCELERATED INTO THE BUILDING.

WILKINS WAS TREATED FOR MINOR INJURIES AT CAPE COD HOSPITAL. NOBODY ELSE WAS HURT IN THE CRASH.

IN JANUARY, TOYOTA RECALLED MORE THAN 2 MILLION VEHICLES, INCLUDING 2009 AND 2010 RAV4S, FOR FAULTY ACCELERATORS.

AN INITIAL REVIEW BY THE YARMOUTH POLICE SOON AFTER THE CRASH FOUND THAT BOTH THE GAS AND BRAKE PEDALS WERE WORKING PROPERLY. THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY TEAM WILL RELEASE THE RESULTS OF ITS INVESTIGATION WITHIN TWO TO FOUR WEEKS, ACCORDING TO YARMOUTH POLICE OFFICIALS.

HTTP://WWW.CAPECODONLINE.COM/APPS/PBCS.DLL/ARTICLE?AID=/20100325/NEWS/3250319/-1/NEWS11






Ripple Effects of Toyota NUMMI Plant Closure Reach Far

Dennis Shanahan FOX40 News
March 23, 2010

MODESTO - At 60-years-old, Richard Galvan of Modesto is not ready to retire. But he will be out of work when Toyota's NUMMI plant in Fremont closes at the end of this month. Richard has worked as a team leader in the factory's body shop since 1985.

"My goal is to not lose my home," Galvan told FOX40 Tuesday night. "I don't want it to go to a foreclosure. I have several of my grandkids living with me And if the home goes, where do we go?"

A total of 4700 workers are losing their jobs at the NUMMI plant. By some estimates, an additional 50,000 jobs could be lost statewide from companies that supplied parts to NUMMI. Trim Masters Inc. (TMI) in Modesto is one of those companies. 186 people will be out of work when TMI shuts down after this month.

Across Yosemite Boulevard from TMI, FOX40 visited a Crispy Eggroll, a unique restaurant that opened seven months ago and has enjoyed a good amount of business from TMI workers on their lunch break. The restaurant will continue without them, but it serves as an example of how a plant shutdown in the Bay Area has far reaching ripple effects.

Back at Richard Galvan's home, there are bigger concerns. "Is there gonna' be work available for us?" Galvan hopes employers will look beyond his age, and value his skills and experience. He will receive a lump sum when NUMMI closes, but he says it's not enough to support his family, especially after he estimates 41% of it will be taken out for taxes.

http://www.fox40.com/news/headlines/ktxl-news-nummiworkers,0,2548303.story


NUMMI shutdown hits Central Valley hard

Thursday, March 25, 2010
By Dale Kasler
dkasler@sacbee.com

TRACY – When California is hurting, much of the pain usually falls on the Central Valley. So it's no surprise that the biggest layoff of the recession in California will hit the Valley hard.

The imminent closure of Toyota Motor Corp.'s NUMMI auto factory in the East Bay is creating serious spillover effects. It will erase thousands of manufacturing jobs in the Valley, a region where unemployment already tops 18 percent once you get south of Sacramento.

Phanna Kang is among those headed toward an uncertain future. He's worked the past eight years at Pacific Coast MS Industries in Tracy, a Japanese-owned company that makes air ducts and fuel and brake lines for NUMMI. The Tracy plant will close when the last Toyota rolls off the assembly line at NUMMI on March 31.

Kang, the father of a 3-year-old daughter, was already struggling to pay the mortgage on his Modesto home. Now he's pretty sure he won't be able to pay.

"I'm going to lose the home," he said.

Pacific Coast, which employs 130 workers, is one of several Valley auto-parts plants that sprang up to serve NUMMI and are now headed for oblivion. The Tracy plant opened in 1984, the same year as NUMMI.
"How do you work on closing a factory? This is something I had never done before," said Jasper Bullock Jr., 50, general manager of the Pacific Coast plant.

The NUMMI disaster will hit the Valley in several ways. At least 1,200 Valley residents commute to Fremont to work at NUMMI directly. An unknown number of Valley residents work at Bay Area plants that make parts for NUMMI. And at least 1,000 work for parts manufacturers in the Valley itself, like Pacific Coast.

Throw in the "multiplier effect" – the jobs that vanish when laid-off workers curtail their spending in restaurants, stores, etc. – and the total job loss in the Valley will hit 6,000 over the next few months, said economist Jeff Michael of the University of the Pacific.

Michael estimates the total statewide job loss at 20,000, including the multiplier effect. NUMMI itself employs around 4,500 workers.

Michael said the ripple effects from NUMMI will eliminate about 5 percent of San Joaquin County's factory jobs. But the impact goes beyond the numbers. The layoffs will stifle the region's efforts to diversify its manufacturing base beyond food processing and construction materials, he said.

"This is devastating," said Debbie Duplichan, a rapid-response coordinator at the WorkNet jobs agency in San Joaquin County. "I don't think anybody truly has their head around what's going to happen – the economic impact is going to be substantial."

Unemployment stands at 18.4 percent in the Stockton area and 18.9 percent in Modesto.

The last auto plant in California, NUMMI, or New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., once stood as a symbol of the revival of American automaking. The Fremont plant was closed by General Motors Corp. in 1982 and reopened two years later by NUMMI, a joint venture between GM and Toyota.

The plant was a model of efficiency. But when auto sales plummeted last year, NUMMI's production fell by 25 percent. The plant's existence was further imperiled when GM pulled out of the joint venture following its bankruptcy reorganization. Toyota announced last August that the plant, which makes Corollas and Tacomas, was closing, with production moving to Canada, Texas and Japan.

Labor leaders and some elected officials held out hope that Toyota, its reputation shattered by a recall crisis, would reverse its decision and keep the plant open to generate good will. But the automaker held firm.
In recent weeks the Valley parts factories, many of them owned by Japanese companies and dedicated almost entirely to supplying NUMMI, have announced their closures. Among those shutting down is Kyoho Manufacturing of California, a Toyota subsidiary that arrived in Stockton just two years ago to make stamped and welded body parts. It employs 154 workers.

"They showed up in 2008 and here they are shutting down in 2010," Michael said. "It's a … sign of how unanticipated the collapse of the auto industry was."

Pacific Coast tried to save itself in spite of the NUMMI shutdown. The Tracy plant dedicates about 5 percent of its production to Toyota plants in Canada and Mexico, and Bullock explored the possibility of making parts for a Toyota truck plant in Texas.

Ultimately, the plant was done in by geography. A sister facility in Kentucky makes parts for Toyota plants in the Midwest and South, and shipping finished parts halfway across the country from California didn't make sense.

The Tracy plant, spread across three buildings just north of Interstate 205, remains busy even as the final days approach. Black plastic tubing is molded into brake and fuel lines; larger pieces become ducts for the air conditioning system. Asphalt is used to make pliable mats placed inside doors to muffle street noise.

"It's a hard laboring job but it pays the bills," said John Thor, 27, an employee who lives in Modesto. He said he might try to go back to school to become an electrician when Pacific Coast closes.

The last day of production in Tracy will be March 30. The next day, a caterer and disc jockey will be brought in for the plant's final day of existence.

"We're having a party on the 31st," Bullock said, dabbing his eyes. "It's over with and we're going to have a party."

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2010/03/24/2629168/nummi-shutdown-hits-central-valley.html#ixzz0jDr2P1f0
http://www.sacbee.com/2010/03/24/2629168/nummi-shutdown-hits-central-valley.html

Bonnie Fuller having Toyota trouble

Last Updated: 12:47 AM, March 24, 2010

Bonnie Fuller is another Toyota owner having car trouble.

The HollywoodLife.com editor-in-chief posted on Twitter yesterday morning that her year-old Toyota Highlander Hybrid burst into flames while her husband was picking up their kids from play dates near their Hastings-on-Hudson home.

"Suddenly smoke coming from under hood. He pulls over -- lifts hood + flames jump out. Turns into big fire," Fuller wrote. Luckily, no one was hurt. "No kids in car . . . Can u believe?

This happen to anyone else?

Any one else's Toyota suddenly go up in flames." Toyota did respond back to her Tweets immediately, saying, "Hi Bonnie. Have you contacted our Customer Experience Center? 800-331-4331." Fuller didn't call us back to let us know if she had.
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/bonnie_burning_toyota_LsAtTfl3rRcMkqjA2WSeSM#ixzz0jDnF9qfn

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/bonnie_burning_toyota_LsAtTfl3rRcMkqjA2WSeSM#ixzz0jDnFHOa6

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/bonnie_burning_toyota_LsAtTfl3rRcMkqjA2WSeSM#ixzz0jDn0VZdQ
http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/bonnie_burning_toyota_LsAtTfl3rRcMkqjA2WSeSM


US panel considers location for Toyota lawsuits

US panel considers where to consolidate Toyota lawsuits claiming plummeting vehicle values

Curt Anderson, AP Legal Affairs Writer, On Thursday March 25, 2010, 2:00 pm

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Attorneys for Toyota are asking a panel of federal judges to consolidate more than 200 lawsuits involving sudden acceleration problems before a single judge in Los Angeles.

Toyota lawyer Cari Dawson told the U.S. Panel on Multidistrict Litigation at a hearing in San Diego on Thursday that the company favors combining dozens of personal injury and wrongful death cases nationwide in the California court.

The company also says the same court should handle all the potential class-action lawsuits filed around the country claiming safety recalls caused the value of Toyota vehicles to fall.

Attorneys say there are currently 138 potential class-action lawsuits concerning vehicle values and about 97 personal injury and wrongful death cases against Toyota Motor Corp. in federal courts.

The panel expects to make a decision in about two weeks.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- A special panel of U.S. federal judges is being asked Thursday to consolidate before a single court dozens of proposed class-action lawsuits filed by Toyota owners who say the value of their vehicles has plummeted after millions were recalled for safety fixes.

The decision, expected in about two weeks by the seven-member U.S. Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, will set the stage for eventual trial or settlement of the roughly 100 cases filed nationwide, which could potentially cost Toyota billions of dollars in damages.

"Somebody is going to get this thing. It is going to be a ton of work," said attorney David R. Cohen of Cleveland, who has been appointed frequently as a "special master" to assist judges in similar cases.

The judge who is chosen will make several key decisions, including whether all Toyota owners affected by the recalls should be treated as a single class that could be paid for the vehicles' lost value. Toyota also is expected to ask for dismissal of the case.

Before that, however, the panel must decide where to send the lawsuits. Toyota favors Los Angeles federal court, near its U.S. headquarters in Torrance, but 18 other jurisdictions have been suggested including Florida, Kentucky, Ohio, New Jersey, and even Puerto Rico.

The lawsuits have been popping up in court dockets nationwide following Toyota's recalls involving around 8 million vehicles, including about 6 million in the U.S. There are also separate lawsuits filed by crash victims and family members, as well as by investors who blame Toyota stock losses on the recalls.

Toyota, which declined comment before Thursday's hearing, has blamed the sudden acceleration problems on floor mats and accelerators that sometimes stick. Most of the owner lawsuits, however, trace the incidents to faulty electronic throttle controls that they say Toyota has been aware of and covered up for nearly a decade.

Toyota has repeatedly denied its electronics are the cause.

Similar lawsuits filed in different locations are frequently centralized in one place. Currently, about 92,000 lawsuits -- 48,000 of them involving cancer-causing asbestos -- have been consolidated by the Multidistrict Litigation panel before 240 federal judges, according to the panel's Web site.

Associated Press writer Greg Risling contributed to this story.
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/US-panel-considers-location-apf-1197360825.html?x=0

Guangxi recalls 713 Chinese made Toyota RAV4sLevel of risk varies between Chinas North and South.

Publish date: Mar 24, 2010

According to the Toyota dealers in Guangxi, China, 713 domestically produced Toyota RAV4s sold in the region are included in this recall. But so far, no cars of this model have clumped together in Toyota stores for the recall.

When interviewing Tianjin FAW Toyota Motor's local dealers Nanning Zhongda Toyota, Nanning Guangyuan Toyota and Tianxiaxing Toyota, reporters found that the recall of Chinese made RAV4s with accelerator pedal flaws is proceeding ahead of schedule in Guangxi with some dealers having completed the defective parts replacement on half of the recalled vehicles.

The accelerator pedal flaw has prompted the recall of 75,552 RAV4s across the country, including 713 units in Guangxi (more than 300 cars from Nanning Zhongda, 280 from Guangyuan and six from Tianxiaxing).
The three dealers have notified RAV4 owners about the recall through SMS, letters and phone calls, with some other dealers having finished 30 to 50 percent of their maintenance tasks.

According to engineers interviewed, the climatic differences between the Northern and the Southern parts of the country should be considered when addressing security vulnerabilities resulting from a potential flaw in the model's accelerator pedal. When driving the car during the dry and cold days of winter in the Northern half of the country, the friction increases due to the icy roads, so the pedals may begin to stick and release instead of operating smoothly. One solution has been provided: a precision-cut steel reinforcement bar will be installed into the accelerator pedal assembly, eliminating the excess friction that has caused pedals to stick in rare instances.

However, there are few such cases in the South, especially in Nanning and its surrounding areas. Relative risks will be eliminated as long as the vehicles are taken to the stores for the fix.

http://motorage.search-autoparts.com/motorage/Industry+News/Guangxi-recalls-713-Chinese-made-Toyota-RAV4s/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/662299?contextCategoryId=43145
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 10:02 am    Post subject: TOYOTA WARNED EUROPE OF DEFECTS WELL BEFORE AMERICA! Reply with quote

FOX NEWS- AP - APRIL 07, 2010

TOYOTA WARNED EUROPE OF ACCELERATOR PROBLEM WELL BEFORE U.S.

LONG BEFORE TOYOTA TOLD U.S. REGULATORS ABOUT STICKING ACCELERATOR PEDALS, THE JAPANESE AUTOMAKER WARNED ITS DISTRIBUTORS THROUGHOUT EUROPE ABOUT SIMILAR PROBLEMS, DOCUMENTS OBTAINED BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS SHOW.

WASHINGTON -- LONG BEFORE TOYOTA TOLD U.S. REGULATORS ABOUT STICKING ACCELERATOR PEDALS, THE JAPANESE AUTOMAKER WARNED ITS DISTRIBUTORS THROUGHOUT EUROPE ABOUT SIMILAR PROBLEMS, DOCUMENTS OBTAINED BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS SHOW.

CONCERNS ABOUT STICKING GAS PEDALS AND COMPLAINTS FROM TOYOTA OWNERS IN THE U.S. WERE RISING AT THE END OF 2009. THE DOCUMENTS SHOW THAT WEEKS EARLIER, ON SEPT. 29, ITS EUROPEAN DIVISION ISSUED TECHNICAL INFORMATION "IDENTIFYING A PRODUCTION IMPROVEMENT AND REPAIR PROCEDURE TO ADDRESS COMPLAINTS BY CUSTOMERS IN THOSE COUNTRIES OF STICKING ACCELERATOR PEDALS, SUDDEN RPM INCREASE AND/OR SUDDEN VEHICLE ACCELERATION."

DISTRIBUTORS THROUGHOUT EUROPE AND IN GEORGIA, KAZAKHSTAN, TURKEY AND ISRAEL RECEIVED THE TECHNICAL INFORMATION.

IN ASSESSING A RECORD $16.4 MILLION FINE ON TOYOTA FOR FAILING TO ALERT THE U.S. GOVERNMENT TO THE SAFETY PROBLEMS QUICKLY ENOUGH, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY RAY LAHOOD CITED THE WARNINGS TO THE OTHER COUNTRIES. LAHOOD SAID TUESDAY THAT TOYOTA MADE A "HUGE MISTAKE" BY NOT DISCLOSING THE SAFETY PROBLEMS SOONER.

THE TIMELINE IN THE DOCUMENTS SHOW THAT TOYOTA SAID IN OCTOBER IT HAD RECEIVED THREE REPORTS OF STICKING PEDALS IN COROLLAS SOLD IN THE UNITED STATES. IT NOTIFIED THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION ABOUT THE CASES IN NOVEMBER.

IN NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER, TOYOTA ENGINEERS EXAMINED PEDALS FROM THE COROLLAS AND WERE ABLE TO REPLICATE THE STICKING PEDAL PROBLEM IN TWO OF THE THREE CASES. THE ENGINEERS "CONCLUDED THAT THE PHENOMENON EXPERIENCED IN THE UNITED STATES WAS ESSENTIALLY THE SAME AS THE PHENOMENON EXPERIENCED IN EUROPE," THE DOCUMENT SAID.

IN MID-JANUARY, TOYOTA HELD INTERNAL MEETINGS "TO DISCUSS STATUS OF PRODUCTION CHANGES AND TO PREPARE FOR MEETINGS WITH NHTSA" ON JAN. 19, ACCORDING TO THE TIMELINE. TWO DAYS LATER, TOYOTA ANNOUNCED IT WOULD RECALL 2.3 MILLION VEHICLES TO ADDRESS THE STICKING PEDALS.

THE DOCUMENTS OBTAINED BY AP WERE AMONG 70,000 PAGES OF PAPERS TURNED OVER TO GOVERNMENT INVESTIGATORS. THEY SHOW THAT ON SEPT. 29, THE SAME DAY TOYOTA ISSUED THE REPAIR PROCEDURES IN EUROPE, THE COMPANY TOLD NHTSA OF ITS DECISION TO RECALL SEVERAL TOYOTA AND LEXUS VEHICLE MODELS "TO ADDRESS THE RISK OF ACCELERATOR PEDAL ENTRAPMENT BY ALL-WEATHER FLOOR MATS."

TOYOTA HAS SAID THE PROBLEMS INVOLVED SEPARATE ISSUES AND IN THE CASE OF THE STICKING GAS PEDALS, THE PROBLEM WAS RELATED TO THE BUILDUP OF CONDENSATION ON SLIDING SURFACES IN THE ACCELERATOR SYSTEM THAT HELPS DRIVERS PUSH DOWN OR RELEASE THE GAS PEDAL.

THE TIMELINES, TITLED "PRELIMINARY CHRONOLOGY OF PRINCIPAL EVENTS," WERE PROVIDED TO THE GOVERNMENT ON MARCH 24.

LAHOOD TOLD REPORTERS IN CHICAGO ON TUESDAY THAT HE WOULDN'T BE SURPRISED IF A REVIEW OF DOCUMENTS FROM TOYOTA MOTOR CORP. UNCOVERED ADDITIONAL SAFETY LAPSES BY THE JAPANESE AUTOMAKER.

"THIS IS THE FIRST THING THAT WE HAVE FOUND," LAHOOD SAID. "IT MAY NOT BE THE LAST THING."

UNDER FEDERAL LAW, AUTOMAKERS MUST NOTIFY NHTSA WITHIN FIVE DAYS OF DETERMINING THAT A SAFETY DEFECT EXISTS AND PROMPTLY CONDUCT A RECALL.

TOYOTA, IN A STATEMENT TUESDAY, SAID IT "HAS AND WILL CONTINUE TO PRACTICE ITS PHILOSOPHY OF SATISFYING CONSUMERS WITH HIGH QUALITY VEHICLES THAT ARE SAFE AND RELIABLE, AND RESPONDING TO CONSUMER FEEDBACK WITH HONESTY AND INTEGRITY."

TOYOTA HAS RECALLED MORE THAN 6 MILLION VEHICLES IN THE U.S. AND A TOTAL OF MORE THAN 8 MILLION WORLDWIDE BECAUSE OF ACCELERATION PROBLEMS IN MULTIPLE MODELS AND BRAKING ISSUES IN THE PRIUS HYBRID.

THE JAPANESE AUTOMAKER WAS STILL WEIGHING ITS OPTIONS ON TUESDAY ABOUT WHETHER TO ACCEPT OR CONTEST THE FINE. IT HAS ALSO BEEN NAMED IN 138 POTENTIAL CLASS-ACTION LAWSUITS OVER FALLING VEHICLE VALUES AND NEARLY 100 PERSONAL INJURY AND WRONGFUL DEATH CASES IN FEDERAL COURTS.

HTTP://WWW.FOXNEWS.COM/LEISURE/2010/04/07/TOYOTA-WARNED-EUROPE-ACCELERATOR-PROBLEM/?UTM_SOURCE=FEEDBURNER&UTM_MEDIUM=FEED&UTM_CAMPAIGN=FEED%3A+FOXNEWS%2FLATEST+%28TEXT+-+LATEST+HEADLINES%29&UTM_CONTENT=MY+YAHOO
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 11:34 am    Post subject: Toyota fails to apply its own wisdom Reply with quote

Last Updated: April 09. 2010 1:00AM

Daniel Howes

Toyota fails to apply its own wisdom

Irv Miller's bombshell in the downward spiral that is Toyota Motor Corp.'s global quality scandal isn't the work of a bomb-thrower.

His Jan. 16 e-mail, clearly written in frustration, is the voice of a Toyota loyalist desperately trying to get his longtime employer to face a metastasizing problem that is badly damaging its brand from the United States and Europe to China and the Japanese homeland.

"I hate to break this to you but WE HAVE A tendency for MECHANICAL failure in accelerator pedals of a certain manufacturer on certain models," Miller, former head of communications for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., wrote to a Japanese executive working at Toyota's headquarters in California. "The time to hide on this one is over."

He was right then. He was right when he followed through on his long-planned retirement about six weeks later, just as the Toyota furor reached a fever pitch in the days and weeks after congressional hearings. And he's right now, though I suspect Miller would be just as happy to be proven wrong.

But he wasn't. When the next drafts of this chapter in Toyota's history are written, the smart ones will focus on how a company that rode the continuous learning of its production system to the pinnacle of the global auto industry failed -- no, refused -- to apply the same thinking elsewhere.

Instead of sharing recall and quality information to serve customers, Toyota compartmentalized it. Instead of globalizing its corporate culture to match its fabricated image of seamlessness, it clung to a command-and-control system bound tightly to its Japanese roots. Instead of listening to problems surfaced by employees, a cornerstone of the Toyota production system, it ignored its own people and transformed a quality problem into a full-blown crisis.

More than 8 million cars and trucks recalled. A record fine, $16.4 million, levied by U.S. regulators against Toyota. And customers left with the impression, bolstered by reams of documents now in government hands, that the "customer-focused" company was more interested in covering its corporate keister than coming clean with the people who buy its products.

Worse, at least for Toyota's once-sterling rep and its sizable cash hoard, are "smoking-gun" memos like Miller's and others now part of the official record. Taken together, they are likely to be figurative clubs that plaintiffs' lawyers will wield for years against the world's richest automaker to extract enormous sums to compensate clients (and, of course, themselves).

Miller could have told them that, too. So could just about any sentient adult here with only a passing understanding of the American tort system and the sure-fire ways lawyers and ordinary folks use it to reap their rewards, justified and not.

A few years ago, when Toyota allegedly could do no wrong in the eyes of a growing number of consumers and many in the automotive media, Miller stood near the back of Cobo Center's Riverfront Ballroom while reporters and critics swarmed the newest offering from Toyota.

I sidled up, looked up (he's, what, 6-foot-6 or so?) and said: "You get such a free ride." Yeah, he replied, "isn't it great?"

Until it isn't.

Perceived greatness, it should now be clear to anyone paying attention to the global auto industry, is the cultural kiss of death. It hides flaws. It distorts public images and press coverage. It amplifies successes (Camry, Pruis, almost anything called Lexus) and mutes failure (engine sludge, "silent" recalls masquerading as warranty repairs, the failed Tundra full-size pickup).

Here in Detroit, we know about the perils of perceived greatness, perceived here long after it left town. It was replaced in many driveways by sedans from Toyota, minivans from Honda, small SUVs from Hyundai, and the Detroit culture struggled to understand why.

Oh, there were -- still are -- lots of people telling Detroit why, warning about the price of inaction, the broken business model, the unsustainable union contracts and corporate debt loads. But it took a historic crack-up before the message started to sink in, the hard way.

Which is exactly what Irv Miller, Toyota loyalist, was trying to say.

dchowes@detnews.com (313) 222-2106 Daniel Howes' column runs Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays
From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100409/OPINION03/4090342/1148/Toyota-fails-to-apply-its-own-wisdom#ixzz0kcUNqPLX
http://www.detnews.com/article/20100409/OPINION03/4090342/1148/Toyota-fails-to-apply-its-own-wisdom




Toyota recall having big impact on company's reputation

Several surveys suggest that since the Toyota recall, the automaker has fallen sharply in customer esteem.

By Mark Trumbull, Staff writer / April 8, 2010

Only a tiny fraction of Toyota owners have experienced problems with a sticky accelerator, but recent gas-pedal and brake recalls are having a considerable impact on the company's sales and reputation.

That's the conclusion of several recent surveys, as well as some business experts who track the performance of corporate brands.

It's true that in March, Toyota's sales rebounded from a recent plunge to capture 17.6 percent of the US market. For the first three months of 2010, its market share of about 15 percent is down only one percentage point from where it stood in the first quarter a year before.

But to achieve that result, Toyota resorted to nationwide sales incentives that it had long been able to avoid. Such incentives may, for some time to come, be a price Toyota has to pay for showroom traffic.

"They were able to command a premium because they were known to be special" in quality and reliability, says Partha Krishnamurthy, a marketing professor at the University of Houston, who has been following the Japanese carmaker's recent travails. "Now they're not special."

A series of surveys suggests Toyota has fallen sharply in customer esteem.

• In a Kelley Blue Book survey released last month, Toyota fell from No. 1 in customer loyalty to No. 3. Hyundai moved into the top spot, while Honda held steady in second place.

• Toyota recently dropped from No. 1 to No. 6 in a "perceived quality" study by Automotive Lease Guide.

• In a March Bloomberg poll, 4 in 10 Americans said they "would definitely not buy a Toyota." Although nearly half of respondents said they have a favorable impression of Toyota, 36 percent don't. That was the highest negative rating among all automakers in the survey.

Such opinions will fluctuate over time, of course.

Plenty of Toyota owners remain happy with their cars. But Mr. Krishnamurthy says it will take time – probably several years – for the company to rebuild trust with consumers.

"Their initial response was slow and sort of lukewarm," he says. It did damage that's hard to repair quickly, even if the fixes on recalled cars proceed smoothly.

Although only a small number of drivers have experienced problems, the recalls relate to high-profile safety issues with acceleration and braking.

"The brand cachet that used to give them the premiums has gone," Krishnamurthy says.

http://www.csmonitor.com/Money/2010/0408/Toyota-recall-having-big-impact-on-company-s-reputation
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 3:29 pm    Post subject: State Farm asks Toyota to repay acceleration claims Reply with quote

State Farm asks Toyota to repay acceleration claims

By Sharon Silke Carty, USA TODAY April 12, 2010

DETROIT — Armed with reports of accidents for which they've already paid claims, State Farm insurance has asked Toyota to repay them for any crashes related to unintended acceleration by its vehicles.

Other companies are expected to follow and demands for repayment of claims — called "subrogation" in the insurance business — could end up costing Toyota from $20 million to $30 million, says Mark Bunim, an attorney with Closed Case, a mediation firm. Customers could see a bonus from any repayment: Insurance deductibles they paid could be refunded.

"If we didn't incur any risk, we get our part back and you get your part back," says Dick Luedke, a spokesman for State Farm.

Toyota has recalled 7.7 million vehicles in two recalls related to sudden acceleration, one involving floor mats that can jam gas pedals and one involving pedals that stick. The government last week fined Toyota the maximum $16.4 million for violating a five-day deadline in reporting the sticky pedals. Toyota has not decided whether to appeal.

State Farm sent a letter to Toyota in September 2007 asking it to pay for claims in an accident involving a 2005 Toyota Camry. State Farm wrote, "We are aware of several complaints to your company of sudden acceleration involving the Toyota Camry." The driver had reported the same problem to her mechanic twice before, State Farm wrote.

The letter was copied to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which replied by saying it had looked into similar complaints, starting in August 2006, and closed the investigation on April 3, 2007. State Farm wasn't reimbursed.

If Toyota doesn't end up paying for accidents insurers link to sudden acceleration, the cost could trickle down to consumers, who could end up paying higher insurance rates for Toyota vehicles.

Whatever happens, resolution won't come soon.

"Someone has to go through each and every auto claim, and then try to make a determination if it involved unwarranted acceleration," Bunim says. "It could take months."

Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons says subrogation claims are common between insurers and automakers. Beyond that, Toyota had no comment.
Despite recent troubles, Toyota's vehicles don't cost much to insure because they are generally safe and reliable, says Peter Moraga, spokesman for the Insurance Information Network of California. That could change if the problems drag on, he says.

"That's when we would see an impact on insurance rates," he says. "It really depends on what Toyota does in terms of fixing the problem."

http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2010-04-12-toyotainsurance12_ST_N.htm




Toyota Deception Runs Deeper Than Recalls

By Seth Fiegerman

I’m not usually one to kick a company when it’s down, but I think Toyota may just deserve it.

The Associated Press has released a comprehensive report highlighting the auto company’s long history of deception in court cases. The AP found that Toyota (Stock Quote: TM) had “withheld documents” about the “internal roof strength” of their 4Runner model (despite being ordered to reveal all relevant information) in order to defeat a lawsuit filed by a father whose daughter died in a crash.

Then there’s the heartbreaking case of a woman from Texas who was killed “when her Toyota Land Cruiser lurched backward and pinned her against a garage wall.” In court, Toyota argued that it was “unaware” of any similar cases. However, as the AP reports, “less than a year earlier, Toyota had settled a nearly identical lawsuit in the same state involving a Baptist minister who was severely injured after he said his Land Cruiser abruptly rolled backward over him.” Not only is this deceptive, it actually goes against court discovery rules.

That’s pretty cold, Toyota. Pleading ignorance may work if you’re dealing with a customer who has found a hair in the soup, but it’s a terrible tactic to employ when people are dying because of your product.

The AP also notes that Toyota now faces nearly 100 wrongful death and injury lawsuits related to this year’s slew of recalls due to brake and accelerator problems. Already, documents show the company knew about the accelerator problems well in advance, but chose to do a “limited recall” to save money. So, how will the company try to wiggle its way out of trouble this time?

Ultimately, much of their ability to evade and deceive stems from the fact they are not an American-based company. As one lawyer told the AP, "If Ford or General Motors tells you something and you don't believe that it's right, you can get a court order to go get access to the documents instead of relying on them. We can just go there and start poring through documents. We don't have that with the Japanese manufacturers."

Toyota, ladies and gentlemen: the company so bad it makes Tiger Woods look respectable.

http://www.mainstreet.com/article/smart-spending/autos/toyota-deception-runs-deeper-recalls




Critics Say That Toyota’s Smart Team Designed To Discredit Complaints

By Jeffrey Paulsen on April 11, 2010, 8:28 am Posted in Business News

Toyota (NYSE:T) faced a public relations nightmare earlier this year when the foreign automaker was forced to issue a recall of over six million cars. The company issued the recall over an accelerator issue that caused the gas pedal to become stuck. Reports of uncontrolled acceleration further hurt the image of the company. A spokesperson announced the creation of a new “smart team” to look over potential accelerator problems.

Smart Team – An Attempt To Discredit Consumers

The smart team at Toyota dealerships are supposed to look over the car and spot any potential problems. Critics believe that the creation of the smart team is an attempt to deflect the criticisms that have been leveled at the Japanese car company. The public image of the company suffered when several high-ranking officials warned Toyota not to keep the problems with the accelerator a secret.

SMART stands for swift market and research analysis team. When a customer complains of accelerator problems, the team gets sent out to investigate. The decision to publicly unveil this team has changed the legal strategy from being defensive to more confrontational. A company spokesperson said that Toyota has every right to discredit claims of accelerator problems that customers fraudulently report.

Defense Or Outright Falsehoods

Toyota representatives have appeared before congressional committees and hired testing firms to help spot problems with their products. The new strategy may backfire on the company, as it may be seen as an attempt to spread outright falsehoods, according to Los Angeles Times reporters, Ralph Vartabedian and Ken Bensinger.

The public unveiling of the SMART teams may not have been the boon that executives expected. The formation of the team comes before the conclusion of any scientific studies and shortly after the federal government hired experts to look into the sudden acceleration problems of some Toyota and Lexus cars.

http://www.usmoneytalk.com/business/critics-say-that-toyota%E2%80%99s-smart-team-designed-to-discredit-complaints-904/




Toyota driver blames sticky accelerator for crash in Melbourne

By WFTV.com

Posted: 9:52 a.m. Monday, April 12, 2010

MELBOURNE — A woman says a sticky accelerator led to a wild crash that took out a stairwell and knocked out power to a Melbourne apartment complex. 68-year-old Irene Archie says she was trying to park her Toyota Avalon XL on Sunday morning but the vehicle would not stop. She crashed into a building at the Harvard Apartments then hit a parked car and an electrical transformer. Click to read full story from our partner WFTV.

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/toyota-driver-blames-sticky-accelerator-for-crash-in-554304.html





Apr 09, 2010

U.S. judge in Orange County, Calif., to hear Toyota cases

If your Toyota becomes a runaway, there's a good chance you or your lawyer will be visiting Orange County, Calif., sooner or later.

Spend a day at Disneyland, catch an Angels baseball game and stop by the courtroom of U.S. District Judge James V. Selna, who was chosen Friday to preside over all the unintended-acceleration class-action cases -- about 130 so far and counting -- pending against the Japanese automaker.

A judicial panel picked Selna, 65, an appointee of former president George W. Bush, in what must be a relief for Toyota. If nothing else, the courtroom is only about 30 miles from the company's headquarters in a conservative county where many of its top executives live.

"This is a big milestone in what will be a very historic case," Tim Howard, a Northeastern University law professor who leads a group of attorneys in 26 states who are suing Toyota, told the Associated Press.

We're talking big money. The AP says attorneys estimate that if Toyota were to settle the cases for even a modest payout to affected motorists, it could cost the company at least $3 billion and possibly much more:

In comparison, drugmaker Merck has paid more than $4.8 billion into a settlement fund for tens of thousands of claims from people who used its withdrawn painkiller Vioxx.

This is no simple case. Among other things, Selna will have to decide who has standing to sue: those who allege they had accidents due to unintended acceleration, those merely afraid their cars could become a runaway and even those who allege their Toyota vehicles lost value because of the scandal.

"He's a very skilled judge. He will do everything appropriately," attorney Mark Robinson Jr., who is best known for negotiating a $128 million settlement in a case involving exploding fuel tanks on the Ford Pinto, told the AP.

Toyota issued a statement saying it is "pleased with the decision and the location" of the consolidation of lawsuits.

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2010/04/us-judge-in-orange-county-calif-to-hear-toyota-cases/1



Potential Penalties against Toyota Could Hit $49.2 Million

April 11, 2010. By Gordon Gibb

Washington, DC: The federal government is angry with Toyota for waiting so long to inform consumers about the various Avalon and Camry recalls enacted over sticking gas pedals and floor mats. That wait is going to cost Toyota a potential $16.375 million in fines—the largest penalty allowed under the Tread Act.

According to an account published earlier this week in the New York Times, the penalty signals the Transportation Department's utter dismay at the manufacturer’s delayed response to the problems and its concealment of safety information.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood had long intended to hold Toyota's feet to the fire, to paraphrase earlier remarks. "We now have proof that Toyota failed to live up to its legal obligations," LaHood said. "Worse yet, they knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from US officials and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families."

Documents obtained by the Transportation Department revealed that Toyota was aware of the pedal defect as early as September 29. It was on that date that the manufacturer issued bulletins to its dealers in Canada and 31 European countries, instructing them on how to deal with sticky accelerator pedals and sudden acceleration.

Included in the documentation was evidence that Toyota had also received complaints from US consumers at about the same time. However, while Toyota issued a recall for floor mats last fall, no recall for sticking accelerator pedals was forthcoming in the US until late January—almost four months after the company became aware of the problem.

Regulations require that automotive manufactures alert the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) about defects within five business days.

There could be more financial penalties forthcoming for Toyota. The NHTSA is in the process of investigating two other Toyota recalls that could result in similar fines. If the fines are levied, and if Toyota does not contest them, the manufacturer could face penalties totaling about $49.2 million. That's over and above any costs the automaker incurs from the recalls, as well as marketing costs related to winning back customer support and loyalty.

The Transportation Department is hitting Toyota with the maximum for an automotive manufacturer under the law, yet critics say the fines pale in comparison to penalties levied against manufacturers in other sectors, such as the pharmaceutical industry. Last September the Justice Department reached a $2.3 billion settlement with Pfizer over fraudulent marketing issues.

"It’s good news that NHTSA is being an aggressive regulator," said Sid Shapiro, a professor of law with Wake Forest University and vice president of the Center for Progressive Reform. "But you have to have doubts whether a $16 million fine is going to have a deterrent effect on automobile companies that are worth billions of dollars."

The potential in fines and penalties against Toyota is less than half that which the automaker reportedly saved after negotiating with the NHTSA for a smaller recall campaign in 2007. There, Toyota claims to have saved $100 million.
http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/articles/13934/avalon-recall-camry-corolla-corporate-4.html



Toyota official: 'We need to come clean'

By LARRY MARGASAK and KEN THOMAS Associated Press Writers © 2010 The Associated Press
April 7, 2010, 9:21PM

WASHINGTON — Five days before Toyota announced a massive recall, a U.S. public relations executive at the automaker warned colleagues in an internal e-mail: "We need to come clean" about accelerator problems, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday.
"We are not protecting our customers by keeping this quiet," wrote Irv Miller, group vice president for environment and public affairs. "The time to hide on this one is over."

The recently retired Miller wrote the e-mail on Jan. 16, 2010, as Toyota officials were on their way to Washington to discuss the problems with federal regulators. On Jan. 21, Toyota announced it would recall 2.3 million vehicles to address sticking pedals in six vehicle models.

The e-mail reveals deep concerns within the company's leadership that Toyota wasn't dealing with the safety problems effectively and could damage the automaker's sterling reputation for producing safe and reliable vehicles.

The company already had announced a recall of more than 4 million vehicles in the U.S. in late September 2009 to replace gas pedals that could get stuck in floor mats and cause sudden acceleration.

The documents show that Toyota's European division, at the same time, told its distributors it was "identifying a production improvement and repair procedure to address complaints by customers in those countries of sticking accelerator pedals, sudden rpm increase and/or sudden vehicle acceleration" not caused by floor mats.

"We better just hope that they can get NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) to work with us in coming (up) with a workable solution that does not put us out of business," Miller wrote.

The e-mail was addressed to Katsuhiko Koganei, executive coordinator for corporate communications for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

"I hate to break this to you but WE HAVE A tendency for MECHANICAL failure in accelerator pedals of a certain manufacturer on certain models," Miller's e-mail began with several words in capital letters.

In a memo earlier that day, Koganei wrote Mike Michels, vice president of external communications, "Now I talked with you on the phone, we should not mention about the mechanical failures of acc. pedal because we have not clarified the real cause of the sticking acc pedal formally, and the remedy for the matter has not been confirmed."

Koganei further wrote that Toyota executives were concerned that news of the mechanical failures "might raise another uneasiness of customers."
The subject line said the e-mail was in regard to a draft statement to respond to an ABC News story.

Toyota, in a statement, said it "does not comment on internal company communications" and declined comment on Miller's e-mail. But the automaker said: "We have publicly acknowledged on several occasions that the company did a poor job of communicating during the period preceding our recent recalls."

"We have subsequently taken a number of important steps to improve our communications with regulators and customers on safety-related matters to ensure that this does not happen again," Toyota said, adding that it appointed a chief quality officer for North America and a greater role in the region for making safety-related decisions.

Miller, reached by phone at his home in Los Angeles, said he had no comment. His retirement was announced by Toyota on Dec. 16 and his retirement was effective Feb. 1.

The Transportation Department has assessed a record $16.4 million fine on Toyota for failing to alert the U.S. government to the safety problems about the sticking accelerator pedals quickly enough. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Tuesday that Toyota made a "huge mistake" by not disclosing the safety problems sooner.

Concerns about sticking gas pedals and complaints from Toyota owners in the U.S. were rising at the end of 2009, according to documents obtained by the AP.

Distributors throughout Europe and in Russia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Israel received the technical information.

In mid-January, Toyota held internal meetings "to discuss status of production changes and to prepare for meetings with NHTSA" on Jan. 19, according to the timeline. Two days later, Toyota announced it would recall 2.3 million vehicles to address the sticking pedals.

The documents obtained by the AP were among 70,000 pages of papers turned over to government investigators.

Toyota has recalled more than 6 million vehicles in the U.S. and a total of more than 8 million worldwide because of acceleration problems in multiple models and braking issues in the Prius hybrid.

The Japanese automaker was still weighing its options Wednesday about whether to accept or contest the fine. It has also been named in 138 potential class-action lawsuits over falling vehicle values and nearly 100 personal injury and wrongful death cases in federal courts.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/top/all/6948839.html




Another American Almost Killed By Toyota!

Viewer loses control of his Toyota

by Dave Cherry - Apr. 8, 2010 05:35 AM

Call 12 for Action

We have another story related to the massive Toyota recall. I've heard from many Valley Toyota owners who say due to a sticking gas pedal or floor mat entrapment malfunction, they really thought their lives were in danger. But this next viewer came closer than most. He says he almost killed a boy when his Prius suddenly accelerated.

"I would never get back in that car and drive it again."

But Chuck Schmeiser used to love his 2008 Prius. He drove it more than 2 years without a problem. Then one day last month, Chuck was with his wife, pulling the Prius into a grassy parking lot.

"When the accident occurred, it was instantaneous. We had no advance warning, whatsoever."

Chuck says there was a boy directing him into a parking space up against a small mound of dirt.

"The car just accelerated, went over the berm, and at that time we did hit that young man."

Luckily the boy fell to the left and was unharmed. Chuck says jamming on the brake did nothing, but he finally managed to stop the car. The Prius was towed to Big Two Toyota in Chandler. They brought in someone from Toyota Corporate to look at the car. Chuck says the corporate tech felt the sudden acceleration was not due to an entrapped floor mat.

"He stated there was a mat recall, but that he had checked my car and there was no problem as far as the mats we had in there."

Chuck says the corporate rep's only other conclusion: It must have been operator error.

"He asked us to sign his report and my wife and I refused because we did not feel it was accurate."

So what made his Prius go over that berm? Chuck doesn't know, but an innocent by-stander barely averted a tragedy.

"We hit that boy, and if that boy hadn't gone off to the left of our car, if he had fallen in front of our car, we very well could have killed him."
The boy's fine. Actually, Chuck says he went right back to work that day. As for the incident, if it wasn't the mats, was it a sticking gas pedal?

Toyota says no. And the Prius is not part of the sticking gas pedal recall. Was it a computer problem? Toyota told me absolutely not. They've consistently denied that possibility with any recalled vehicles.

So, right now we don't know what happened for sure. All we know is the Prius suddenly accelerated and somebody could have been seriously hurt or worse.

I want to thank Big Two Toyota in Chandler. They were very responsive and cooperative with our viewer and their customer. In the end, they bought Chuck's Prius from him for a fair price and not as part of a trade-in. Big Two says its decision was based on many factors, and not something they would typically do in most cases.

http://www.azcentral.com/12news/consumer/articles/2010/04/08/20100408Prius-Acceleration-Accident-04082010-CR.html


Toyota recalls 200,000 vehicles in Taiwan over sealing problems
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2010-04-12 02:40 PM

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Toyota is recalling 200,000 vehicles of eight models for sealing problems in the biggest such recall in Taiwan history, reports said Monday.

Inspections found the sealing of windows, doors, engine hoods and trunks might harden or show cracks, leading to water entering the car and causing rust, said Hotai Motor Co., Ltd., Toyota’s representative in Taiwan.

The company said it would not charge customers for repairs on the cars, made in Taiwan between early 2006 and late 2008 by local affiliate Kuozui Motors. Most of the affected vehicles are already past their three-year warranty. Hotai said it would send letters to owners in order to spread the repairs out in time and prevent delays.

The sealing problem did not affect driving safety and would only result in rust if it were left untreated for a long time, Hotai said.

The inspection of each car would require about half an hour, but if problems were found, repairs could take up to 12 hours, the company said, cautioning owners to appear at the scheduled time and place in order to save time.

The models affected are some Camry, Wish and Corolla Altis produced between April 1 and December 31, 2006, some Vios, Yaris, Zace and Hiace produced between July 1 and December 31, 2006, and some Camry, Wish, Corolla Altis, Vios, Yaris, Zace and Innova models produced between January 1, 2007 and November 18, 2008, Hotai said.

The recall could cost Hotai NT$1 billion, reports said.

In February, the company announced recalls for vehicles in Taiwan as part of the worldwide problems with accelerator pedals and brakes hitting Toyota models.

http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=1225167&lang=eng_news&cate_img=logo_taiwan&cate_rss=TAIWAN_eng
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 3:25 pm    Post subject: More Toy Toyota recalls mini-van in ongoing safety saga Reply with quote

Toyota recalls mini-van in ongoing safety saga

By Michael Vincent and wires
Updated Sat Apr 17, 2010 11:29am AEST

Toyota is set to recall hundreds of thousands more vehicles because of safety concerns.

Internationally, the Japanese car maker has already recalled millions of its models and has been hauled before the US congress to testify about its safety record.

Toyota has now said it will recall 870,000 Sienna mini-van sold in the United States and Canada since the 1998 model year because of a risk that the spare tyre could drop into the road.

The recalls cover mini-van sold in several cold weather US states and Canada due to potential corrosion from long-term exposure to road salt that could in the worst case, cause the spare tyre to separate from the vehicle.

The recalls cover some 600,000 mini-van in the US and 270,000 of the same vehicles in Canada.

The editor of the Detroit-based Automotive News, Jason Stein, says Toyota's nightmare seems never-ending.

"When you look at the news that came out this week about Lexus and the GX rollover issues which could point to electronic problems ... Now you come out here at the end of the week, so four or five days later, with the fact that there is a voluntary recall of 600,000 Sienna minivans to fix cables that can rust and spare tyres that can fall from the vehicle," he said.

"This has just been an ongoing saga. It continues to dog the company and really has to start to put, especially in the consumers' minds, the reliability quality issue that has been such a Toyota hallmark for so long into some really serious question."

Mr Stein says Toyota is trying to repair its image.

"By rolling out campaigns that say that Toyota quality is still first and foremost the most significant objective that they are working on right now," he said.

"And they have also formed a panel which will assess some of these quality issues as well as the electronic issues.

"Internally and externally they are trying to make a difference, changing public perception and changing internal processes, but this is just yet another issue for them that they are going to have to deal with.

"Any consumer who has been paying attention to this is going to say, here is another vehicle that now I have to put a question mark over."
Mr Stein says competitors have been benefiting from Toyota's recalls.
"Ford and General Motors have both jumped on the incentive bandwagon," he said.

"When Toyota in March announced all kinds of rebates, they were right there offering the same kinds of incentives and especially with the latest recall.

"You are going to see the competition - especially the Detroit competition - jumping all over this. Ford's quality numbers have improved, so have GMs. You are going to see that kind of competition ratcheted up to an even higher level."

For the recalls announced on Friday, Toyota says the Sienna mini-vans should be inspected by dealers while Toyota develops a remedy.
Earlier this week, Toyota suspended sales of the 4WD Lexus GX 46 after reports that it had a high risk of rolling over.

- ABC/Reuters
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/04/17/2875548.htm?section=justin
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 3:48 pm    Post subject: Experts inspect Toyota involved in fatal St. Paul crash Reply with quote

Experts inspect Toyota involved in fatal St. Paul crash

by Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
April 20, 2010

St. Paul, Minn. — A Toyota Camry involved in a fatal 2006 crash is being inspected today to find out whether there were problems with the car's accelerator.

Automotive experts hired by the Ramsey County Attorney's office and an attorney for Koua Fong Lee, the driver in that crash, were conducting a two-day inspection starting Tuesday.

Lee has been in prison since being convicted in 2007 of criminal vehicular homicide in the crash, which killed three people.

Lee's attorneys, as well as attorneys for the victims, want Lee to be released from prison based on reports of Toyota defects and recalls related to sudden acceleration. They also want a new trial ordered for Lee.

"Once the results of this inspection are known, we hope Mr. Lee will be quickly granted a new trial so a jury can hear all of the facts of this case," Lee's attorney, Robert Hilliard, said in a written statement.
Hilliard is handling several cases involving people involved in Toyota crashes.

Lee has said he tried to brake after he exited Interstate 94 in St. Paul. Prosecutors have said the car was going 80 to 90 mph when it crashed into another car.

Lee's 1996 Camry wasn't subject to the most recent Toyota recalls, but his car was subject to a separate recall involving sudden acceleration that could happen while a car is in cruise control.

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/04/20/toyota-inspected/






Toyota Will Pay $16 Million Fine, But Guilt Gets Dodged

Posted: April 19, 2010 at 5:54 am

According to many media sources, Toyota Motor Corporation (NYSE: TM) will pay the $16.4 million penalty levied on it for not disclosing sticking pedal information which eventually caused the company to recall millions of its cars. The odd part of its acceptance of the fine is that Toyota will not admit that it did anything wrong. The payment will not help the firm’s other legal problems which are likely to be dominated by a number of class action suits.

The Transportation Department has been beaten up by Congress for its tardiness in discovering the Toyota problems and doing less than it should have once it was aware of them. There has been a great deal of disappointment that the agency did not fine Toyota more, but the $16.4 million fee is capped by law. If it were not , Transportation says the penalty would be over $1 billion. So, the rules are the rules.

The public and members of Congress who are already angered by the Transportation Department’s sloth will be critical of the settlement because Toyota will dodge admitting guilt. And that criticism is warranted, unless the Department rejects the payment of the fine as being both too little and also too forgiving to Toyota’s image.

Toyota sales have already rebounded, in part because of incentives. The federal government is doing nothing to impede the world’s No.1 car company from being one of the leading vehicle companies in the US again. And, it shows how poorly the Transportation Department has handled the problem.

Douglas A. McIntyre
http://247wallst.com/2010/04/19/toyota-will-pay-16-million-fine-but-guilt-gets-dodged/



Did faulty accelerator cause Toyota Tacoma to speed uncontrollably in Brookfield?

Vinti Singh, STAFF WRITER
Published: 10:20 a.m., Monday, April 19, 2010

BROOKFIELD -- A faulty accelerator on a Toyota Tacoma is being blamed for causing the truck to speed uncontrollably down a parking lot, jump a curb and flip over.

Police responded to reports of a rollover accident on Federal Road outside of Costco on April 12.

The driver said that the pick-up truck's accelerator got stuck and he could not stop the vehicle with his emergency brake.

The driver, Freddie Perez, had to be extricated from the vehicle by emergency personnel. He and his 12-year-old son were transported to Danbury Hospital.

Perez had two surgeries to remove glass from his body, his lawyer, Jefrrey Dressler, said.

Dressler is associated with Dressler Strickland, a Hartford legal firm.
Perez said Monday that he has stitches in his arm, but neither he nor his son have any major injuries.

Although the matter is under investigation, Dressler said the family will most likely be suing Toyota for injuries sustained in the accident.

Toyota Tacoma models from 2005 to 2010 are included in the Toyota floor mat recall.

"To address the risk of floor mat entrapment of accelerator pedals in certain Toyota models, Toyota is conducting a safety recall of those models," according to Toyota's website.

Dressler's firm has control of the vehicle, and he plans to have an expert examine it.

"All I know about the accident is what I've read in news articles," Dressler said. "Although they are interesting, they are not evidence, and we will have to investigate and see what did happen."

Contact Vinti Singh at vsingh@newstimes.com or 203-731-3331.
http://www.newstimes.com/policereports/article/Did-faulty-accelerator-cause-Toyota-Tacoma-to-453619.php



4/19/10

Driver dies in Isanti (Toyota) crash?

ISANTI— A fatal crash occurred on Sunday, April 18 at about 11:45 south of Isanti.

The crash occurred southbound on Highway 65, 1/4 mile north of 273rd Avenue.

According to witnesses, a 1997 Toyota Avalon driving at a high rate of speed passed two witnesses and then moved to the right lane and passed a third witness on the right shoulder.

The vehicle then went into the right ditch, struck a driveway approach and launched— striking a tree head on in front of residence.

Upon contact, the vehicle burst into flames. It was fully engulfed when officers first on the scene.

The driver has not yet been identified.

http://isanti-chisagocountystar.com/detail/56901.html



Toyota Will Face One Huge Sudden Acceleration Lawsuit

Posted: Apr. 19, 2010 11:04 a.m.

The federal court system has consolidated more than 200 separate lawsuits against Toyota into one single class-action suit, which will be heard in a California courtroom.

The Los Angeles Times reports, “In a ruling handed down Friday, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation allowed more than 100 suits seeking class-action status, as well as at least 50 personal injury cases, to be adjudicated in a single federal courtroom.”

The Detroit Free Press notes, “lawsuits began appearing last fall as Toyota initiated recalls eventually involving about 8 million vehicles,” all triggered by claims that some Toyota vehicles can accelerate suddenly, without input from the driver.

The Times put the number at about 150 lawsuits, but an AP report out this morning claims the decision “affects more than 200 lawsuits against Toyota around the country.” Claims have been filed by owners seeking “damages from Toyota for injuries or deaths attributed to instances of sudden acceleration,” as well as some who don’t claim their Toyotas have been involved in accidents, but who are suing because their vehicles have lost value due to the recalls.

Toyota had pushed the courts to consolidate all of the claims into a single case, according to the Times. The company argued that “the legal process would be best served if the cases were argued in one courtroom.”

However, there are risks for Toyota in this approach. Reuters notes, “Some lawyers estimate Toyota faces potential civil liability of more than $10 billion as it struggles to contain an auto-safety crisis that has tarnished its public image.” Such a massive claim will be covered heavily by the media, and a loss in the lawsuit could be devastating to the Japanese automaker.

The major players in the courtoom will be used to high stakes. The legal team opposing Toyota, Reuters reports, include “firms with experience ranging from big tobacco litigation to the Enron Corp bankruptcy and claims arising from the Exxon Valdez oil spill.” The first hearing in the matter has been set for May 13.

Check out the latest Toyota recall news and information, including how the company's recent troubles affect our rankings. If you're in the market for a new car, check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars as well as this month's best car deals.

http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/daily-news/100419-Toyota-Will-Face-One-Huge-Sudden-Acceleration-Lawsuit/


AP Source: Toyota to recall 2010 Lexus GX 460 SUVs

By KEN THOMAS (AP) – 3 hours ago April 19, 2010

WASHINGTON — A Transportation Department official says Toyota will recall the 2010 Lexus GX 460 to address a potential problem with the SUV rolling over.

The recall affects about 6,000 vehicles that have been sold since the SUV went on sale in late December. Consumer Reports issued a "Don't Buy" warning last week on the 2010 GX 460, saying it was susceptible to rolling over.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement has been made.

Toyota responded by halting sales of new GX 460s and conducting tests on all of its SUVs.

The automaker also agreed to pay a record $16.4 million fine on Monday for failing to properly report a safety problem with defective gas pedals.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Toyota Motor Corp. agreed Monday to pay a record $16.4 million fine for failing to properly notify U.S. authorities about a dangerous accelerator pedal defect, but denied allegations it broke the law.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, announcing the largest-ever penalty paid by an automaker to the U.S. government, said that "by failing to report known safety problems as it is required to do under the law, Toyota put consumers at risk."

"I am pleased that Toyota has accepted responsibility for violating its legal obligations to report any defects promptly," LaHood said, noting that the U.S. government was continuing to investigate "whether the company has lived up to all its disclosure obligations."

Toyota said it agreed to the penalty "to avoid a protracted dispute and possible litigation" but denied the government's allegation that it violated the law.

"We believe we made a good faith effort to investigate this condition and develop an appropriate countermeasure. We have acknowledged that we could have done a better job of sharing relevant information within our global operations and outside the company, but we did not try to hide a defect to avoid dealing with a safety problem," Toyota said.

The penalty is connected to a January recall of 2.3 million vehicles with sticking accelerator pedals. The government says Toyota knew about the problem in late September and failed to report the potential safety defect within five business days, as required by law.

The fine does not free Toyota from potential civil and criminal penalties. The Japanese auto company still faces dozens of personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits in federal courts and federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission are conducting investigations related to the recalls.

The 4-page legal agreement says Toyota denies it violated federal law and says that it will pay the civil penalty "without (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) making any formal findings with respect to Toyota's violations" of the law.

The penalty, the most the government could seek, is largely symbolic, given Toyota's strong balance sheet. The company had cash assets of $23.6 billion as of Dec. 31 and Toyota has said it expects to post a net profit of $885 million in the fiscal year ending March 31.

From the government's viewpoint, the agreement to pay the full fine constituted an acceptance of responsibility for hiding the safety defect in violation of the law. The previous record fine was $1 million paid by General Motors in 2004 for responding too slowly on a recall of nearly 600,000 vehicles over windshield wiper failure.

Toyota announced it would recall 2.3 million vehicles in January to address sticking pedals on popular vehicles such as the Camry and Corolla. The Japanese automaker has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide because of acceleration problems in multiple models and braking issues in the Prius hybrid.

The fine was based upon timelines provided by Toyota that showed it had known about the sticky pedal defect at least since Sept. 29, 2009, when it issued repair procedures to distributors in 31 European countries to address complaints of sticking pedals, sudden increases in engine RPM and unexpected vehicle acceleration.

The documents also indicated that Toyota knew that owners in the U.S. had experienced the same problems.

The Japanese automaker has been weighing its options since the fine was announced in early April but analysts expected it to pay the penalty.
"When you look at the toll it's taken on Toyota's reputation, when you look at the number of vehicles involved, when you look at the hardship it's placed on Toyota's customer base, it's only right for Toyota to take this fine," said Dennis Virag, president of Automotive Consulting Group based in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The penalty is the largest the government can assess under law. Without the cap, government lawyers said Toyota could have faced fines of $13.8 billion, or $6,000 for each of 2.3 million vehicles that were sold with defective pedals.

Transportation officials have not ruled out additional fines. The department is reviewing whether Toyota delayed for six weeks the late January recall of the 2009-2010 Venza in the United States to address floor mats that could entrap the accelerator pedal after making a similar recall in Canada.

Toyota recalled the Venza in Canada in December and reported to the U.S. government on Dec. 16 that the floor mats could move forward and interfere with the pedal. Toyota told U.S. authorities at the time that the floor mats in question were not imported into the U.S. but the Venza was added to the floor mat recall in late January.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i3CZPJXvtZZ46SY9bcMupivluKswD9F69EDO0
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 11:51 am    Post subject: Toyota to recall 1,00,000 Corollas in Brazil Reply with quote

Toyota to recall 1,00,000 Corollas in Brazil

April 24, 2010

Toyota is recalling 100,000 Corolla model cars sold in Brazil over acceleration problems, a consumer protection group has said after meeting with the Japanese automaker. The recall comes a day after the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais ordered a ban on the sales of the best-selling car, saying the vehicles presented a safety threat.

After a meeting with consumer advocacy bodies yesterday, Toyota said it would review the condition of the vehicles’ floor mats, which authorities and manufacturers have pinpointed as the source of several accelerator problems that led to accidents, according to Sao Paulo-based consumer protection agency Procon. “The recall is aimed at safeguarding the health and safety of Brazilian consumers,” said Procon in a statement.

Toyota “will inform consumers (of the recall) in the coming days,” it added. Procon estimates that some 100,000 vehicles are involved in the recall.

The Minas Gerais ministry said nine Toyota Corollas in the state had shown accelerator problems that the Japanese auto giant said were caused by badly-installed driver-side floor mats. Ratings agency Moody’s on Thursday downgraded the beleaguered automaker, saying uncertainty over “product quality” following mass recalls raised questions over its profitability.

In the United States on Monday the company agreed to pay a fine of 16.4 million dollars, the largest for an automaker in the country, for hiding for at least four months accelerator pedal defects blamed in more than 50 US deaths.

http://auto.gnom.es/news/toyota-to-recall-100000-corollas-in-brazil



AUTOS: Toyota Credit Rating Is Downgraded

Massive recalls, lawsuits and failing image prompt Moody's to lower automaker's creditworthiness.

Bob Golfen | Posted April 22, 2010 New York, NY

Toyota took another hit today when its credit rating was cut by Moody’s Investors Service, reduced to Aa2 from the last year’s top Aaa rating as the automaker struggles with massive vehicle recalls, multiple lawsuits and a foundering image.

The move was prompted by expectations that Toyota profits will fall because of its ongoing problems, according to a Bloomberg news service report.

Another credit service, Fitch Ratings, said it would look into Toyota’s creditworthiness to decide whether it would downgrade the company as well, Bloomberg said.

The recalls of more than eight million vehicles worldwide, including its recent voluntary recall of 9,400 new Lexus GX 460 SUVs, could cost the company $2 billion in lost sales and warranty repairs, the news service said. Toyota also faces at least 180 consumer and shareholder lawsuits regarding unintended acceleration.

Earlier this week, Toyota agreed to pay a record $16.4 million fine imposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for what it called the automaker’s deliberate delay in addressing the unintended-acceleration problem.

The greatest damage for the leading Japanese automaker is not to its finances, however, but to its reputation, which could hurt sales for years to come.

The increased risk of substantial profit loss from all of these issues is what prompted Moody’s to lower Toyota’s credit rating to the third level. The reduced credit rating indicates a higher risk of default and can raise the cost of borrowing money.

Toyota, which maintained sales this year primarily through aggressive incentives that include no-interest loans and free maintenance, said it expects to overcome its troubles quickly.

“We are deeply disappointed with the Moody’s downgrade,” said Toyota spokesman Mieko Iwasaki. “We are doing our utmost in prioritizing our customers’ trust with our best management efforts and hope to have our rating raised again.”
http://automotive.speedtv.com/article/autos-toyota-credit-rating-is-downgraded/



U.S. Congressional Leaders Not Taking As Much Money From Toyota NOW!

Toyota U.S. Lobbying Expenses Fell as Recalls, Probes Mounted

April 20, 2010, 8:10 PM EDT
By Jonathan D. Salant and Jeff Plungis

April 21 (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp. cut its U.S. lobbying expenses by almost a third in the first quarter as the carmaker faced recalls and investigations into unexplained acceleration of its Camry and Prius vehicles.

Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, spent $880,000 for lobbying from January through March, down 32 percent from $1.3 million in the same period a year earlier, according to congressional filings released yesterday.

U.S. lawmakers held four hearings during the quarter to examine Toyota’s recall of more than 8 million cars and trucks worldwide to fix unintended acceleration. Company President Akio Toyoda, grandson of the founder, testified at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing Feb. 24.

An internal company document turned over to the panel said Toyota saved $100 million by negotiating with federal safety regulators to limit car recalls. The document listed among accomplishments of Toyota’s Washington office avoiding an investigation into rust on its Tacoma pickup.

Toyota, based in Toyota City, Japan, on April 19 agreed to pay a record $16.4 million fine for failing to promptly report accelerator pedal flaws. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the fine showed Toyota accepted responsibility. The company denied the accusations made by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and said it paid the fine to avoid “a protracted dispute.”

Toyota’s report showed the company lobbied the House and Senate on such issues as making it easier for workers to unionize, patents, financial regulation and energy matters. It didn’t mention the recalls.

4 Lobby Firms

Toyota hired four lobbying firms this year, including Glover Park Group, a Washington-based firm whose principals include Joe Lockhart, a White House spokesman under President Bill Clinton, and Joel Johnson, a former senior adviser to Clinton; Quinn Gillespie & Associates LLC, whose co-founder is former Clinton counsel Jack Quinn; and Holland & Knight LLP, the eighth-biggest lobbying firm by revenue in 2009.

The Quinn Gillespie contract ended in February because of a conflict with another client, said Martha Voss, a Toyota spokeswoman.

--Editors: Steve Geimann, Larry Liebert

To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan D. Salant in Washington at jsalant@bloomberg.net; Jeff Plungis in Washington at jplungis@bloomberg.net.
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jim Kirk at jkirk12@bloomberg.net; Larry Liebert at lliebert@bloomberg.net.
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-04-20/toyota-u-s-lobbying-expenses-fell-as-recalls-probes-mounted.html


Posted on 09:28 PM, April 21, 2010

Toyota recalls 151 Prado SUVs for ‘special service campaign’

ONE hundred fifty-one Land Cruiser Prado sports utility vehicles (SUVs) sold here since late 2009 are affected by the global recall of some 21,000 units due to skidding problems encountered in high-speed driving, a Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. official yesterday said.

Owners are advised to contact the local arm of the Japanese automotive firm to arrange for a free reprogramming of their unit’s “vehicle stability control” or VSC program, the firm said in a statement late Monday.

The development comes after more than 20 Toyota Prius hybrids in the Philippines were recalled in February to address faulty brakes.

This time, it is the Land Cruiser Prado with 18-inch wheels and fitted with the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that is up for a “special service campaign,” Toyota Philippines said.

The model’s VSC programs need to be updated as “the vehicle could slide sideways” when a driver “sharply turns the steering wheel in high-speed conditions,” Toyota Philippines said.

“[Toyota Philippines] has started contacting its Land Cruiser Prado customers and will perform home service repair at no cost to the customers. Customers may also contact [Toyota Philippines] customer assistance hotline,” it said.

Forty-eight of the units sold here in 2009 and 103 that entered the market so far this year need to be serviced, a spokeswoman said in a text message yesterday.

The 2009 figure accounts for 0.1% of the firm’s total sales that year.

The 2010 figure, meanwhile, is 0.8% of Toyota Philippines’ first quarter sales.

Aside from the recall of left-hand drive variants of the Land Cruiser Prado, Toyota headquarters had announced faulty VSCs were found in 13,000 units of the Lexus GX 460 sold in the US, Russia and Oman, among other markets.

But Toyota Philippines clarified that “no other Toyota or Lexus vehicles are affected by this recall in the Philippines.”

Toyota Philippines has so far sold 12,341 units of various models in the first quarter, up by 26.3%, industry data showed. -- Jessica Anne D. Hermosa
http://www.bworldonline.com/main/content.php?id=9558
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PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 11:18 am    Post subject: Toyota sales fall 16.7% in April Reply with quote

Canadians Prove To Be More Aware Of Toyota's Defects

Monday, May 3, 2010

Toyota sales fall 16.7% in April

Scott Deveau, Financial Post

Toyota Canada Inc.'s unit sales fell 16.7% in the month of April despite hefty incentives being offered on its vehicles.

The Japanese automaker said overall unit sales for its Toyota brand alone declined of 16.8% during the month in Canada after a near 30% freefall in units sales for its cars.

Its Lexus division, which until now has buoyed the embattled car company, also saw a 15.5% decline in unit sales in April, driven by a 32.4% decline in truck sales.

The declines come despite Toyota offering hefty incentives on its vehicles in order attract customers in April after several incidents of unintended acceleration were reported in its vehicles earlier this year.

Those incentives, which include 0% financing over 60 and lease rates as low as 0.9% over 48 months, continue.

Year-to-date, Toyota's overall unit sales are up 3.2% for both divisions, the company said.

Toyota's troubles in April come in stark contrast to the sort of sales momentum other automakers have experienced in recent months as the economy and consumer demand improves.

Toyota Canada Inc.'s unit sales fell 16.7% in the month of April in the country despite hefty incentives being offered on its vehicles.

The Japanese automaker said while sales of its Toyota truck sales climbed 10.1% during the month, its overall unit sales declined of 16.8% during the month in Canada for the Toyota brand after a near 30% freefall on its car sales.

Its Lexus division, which until now has buoyed the embattled car company, also saw a 15.5% decline in unit sales in April, driven by a 32.4% decline in truck sales.

The declines come despite Toyota offering hefty incentives on its vehicles in order attract customers in April after several incidents of unintended acceleration were reported in its vehicles earlier this year.

Those incentives, which include 0% financing over 60 and lease rates as low as 0.9% over 48 months, continue.

Year-to-date, Toyota's overall unit sales are up 3.2% for both divisions, the company said.

Toyota's troubles in April come in stark contrast to the sort of sales momentum other automakers have experienced in recent months as the economy and consumer demand improves.

Ford Motor Company of Canada, for example, saw unit sales improve 24.5% during April.

Hyundai Auto Canada also closed last month with an all-time sales record for April with unit sales improving 15.6%, with sales up 22% year-to-date, the company said.

The rest of the automakers in Canada are expected to report their sales figures later Monday.

http://www.financialpost.com/news-sectors/story.html?id=2980147
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PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2010 4:20 pm    Post subject: Toyota waited months to issue '05 steering recall Reply with quote

May 10, 2010
Toyota waited months to issue '05 steering recall

Toyota waited months to issue '05 steering recall despite driver complaints, Japanese recall

Curt Anderson, AP Legal Affairs Writer, On Monday May 10, 2010, 2:31 pm EDT

An Associated Press investigation has found that Toyota waited nearly a year to issue a U.S. recall in 2005 over defective steering rods in trucks and SUVs, despite a similar recall in Japan and dozens of reports from American motorists about rods that snapped without warning.

The gap between the Japanese and U.S. recalls has triggered a new review by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which could fine the automaker up to $16.4 million again?

NHTSA has linked 16 crashes, three deaths and seven injuries to the steering defect.

Toyota claimed initially after the 2004 Japanese recall that it had little evidence of a U.S. problem. But the AP has found that the automaker had received at least 52 reports from U.S. drivers.

Curt Anderson reported from Miami.
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Toyota-waited-months-to-issue-apf-3957379630.html?x=0
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PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2010 10:18 pm    Post subject: NHTSA: Toyota may have withheld recall info Reply with quote

NHTSA: Toyota may have withheld recall info

By Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writerMay 10, 2010: 6:14 PM ET

Follow Peter on Twitter: @PeterDrives

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is launching an investigation into whether Toyota Motor Co. delayed telling investigators in 2005 that a known defect on compact trucks in Japan was also a problem in the United States.

Toyota (TM) later recalled the trucks in the U.S. for a steering relay rod that was prone to cracking.

The automaker had recalled trucks in Japan for the problem in 2004, according to the current probe.

As required by law, the company reported the action to NHTSA. But in that notice, according to the agency, Toyota informed NHTSA that it had received no complaints of the problem in the U.S. and that differences between trucks sold in Japan and the U.S. -- as well as different operating conditions -- meant the issue wasn't a problem here.

On Friday afternoon, NHTSA received internal Toyota documents unearthed through a private lawsuit, a NHTSA official said, that showed Toyota actually had received complaints about the same problem with some trucks and SUVs in the U.S. -- complaints that the automaker allegedly had not shared with NHTSA.

In 2005 Toyota recalled some compact trucks and 4Runner SUVs in the U.S. for the same problem.

"Safety is our number one priority and we take our responsibility to protect U.S. consumers seriously," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. "With new assurances from Toyota about their efforts to improve safety, I hope for their cooperation in getting to the bottom of what happened."

LaHood had met with Toyota chief executive Akio Toyoda earlier Monday in Japan.

"Toyota has received an Information Request from NHTSA in regard to this issue," Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said in an email. "We will cooperate with the agency's investigation."

Under federal regulations, automakers are required to inform the agency within five days of determining that a safety defect exists in one of its products. Failure to abide by reporting rules carries a maximum fine of $16.4 million.

Toyota recently paid one such fine for allegedly failing to report problems with gas pedals in some of its cars in a timely manner. Although Toyota agreed to pay the fine in that case, the automaker did not admit any wrongdoing.

http://money.cnn.com/2010/05/10/autos/toyota_nhtsa_investigation/



Toyota’s Credibility Gap Sunk In After Visit to U.S. (Update2)

May 10, 2010, 3:10 PM EDT

(Updates with lawyer request starting in 13th paragraph.)

By Angela Greiling Keane and Makiko Kitamura

May 10 (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp.’s top executive didn’t grasp how the carmaker’s record recalls hurt its reputation in the U.S. until after he traveled there in February, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.
President Akio Toyoda “understood maybe for the first time that Toyota was facing some very, very serious credibility problems in the United States,” following his visit in February, LaHood said on a conference call today after visiting the company’s headquarters in Toyota City, Japan.
Toyota, which in 2008 passed Detroit-based General Motors Co. to become the world’s largest automaker, was assailed this year by U.S. lawmakers, regulators and safety advocates for responding too slowly to complaints of sudden acceleration in its vehicles. LaHood said on Feb. 2 that Toyota was being “safety deaf” as complaints from customers mounted.
Toyoda “has listened and he has paid attention,” LaHood said today.
The carmaker agreed on April 19 to pay a record $16.4 million fine levied by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for failing to promptly report flaws in accelerator pedals that led to recalls of more than 8 million vehicles worldwide.
U.S. regulators are now reviewing about 500,000 Toyota documents as they investigate defects that may have caused the unintended acceleration, and will need a “couple months” before determining the next course of action, LaHood said.
More Fines
“Toyota will fully cooperate with NHTSA in working toward a common goal of creating a safe automobile society,” Toyoda, the 54-year-old grandson of Toyota’s founder, said at a press conference earlier today.
Toyoda said he invited LaHood to tour the automaker’s U.S. manufacturing and quality control facilities.
The U.S. hasn’t ruled out imposing further fines.
“Until we pore through these documents, we’re not going to know what additional steps we’re going to need to take,” LaHood said on the call. “We’re probably not going to know that for a couple months.”
Earlier, speaking to reporters while at the automaker’s headquarters, he declined to dismiss the idea of further fines.
“We will continue our review of documents presented to us,” LaHood said. “If a fine is required, I think everyone recognizes now that safety is our number-one priority. When we have recommendations to make, we will make them.”
2005 Recall
Lawyers for the family of a man who died when his Toyota pickup truck rolled over sent a letter to LaHood today asking him to investigate the timing of a 2005 U.S. recall for steering relay rod defects in vehicles including 4Runners relative to a 2004 recall in Japan for the same flaw.
“The company’s internal records show that it was aware of many relay rod failures occurring in the U.S. before it recalled the same component in only Japan,” attorney John Kristensen, of O’Reilly Collins in San Mateo, California, said in the letter. “U.S. consumers had to wait another year before Toyota took action. The agency should investigate the wide chronological gaps and apparent falsehoods Toyota has provided about the relay rod defect.”
O’Reilly Collins represents the family of Michael Levi Stewart, 18, whose 1991 Toyota pickup rolled over into a ditch in Idaho in 2007. The lawsuit claims a defect in the steering relay rod caused the accident.
Cindy Knight, a Washington-based spokeswoman for Toyota, said the company doesn’t comment on legal matters and wasn’t immediately able to discuss the timeliness of the U.S. recall of light trucks mentioned by O’Reilly Collins.
Olivia Alair, a Transportation Department spokeswoman, had no immediate comment.
Hiding Defects
LaHood, while in Japan, also plans also to visit Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co., he said.
Toyota was fined because LaHood said documents showed the company “knowingly hid” defects tied to unintended acceleration for four months, violating rules that require notification in five days. The fine amounts to less than 2 percent of Toyota’s projected net income for the year ended March 31.
LaHood has said paying the fine showed Toyota accepted responsibility for the violation. The company denied the accusations made by NHTSA, saying it paid the fine to avoid “a protracted dispute.”
At least 180 consumer and shareholder lawsuits are seeking class-action status and at least 57 individual suits are claiming injuries or deaths caused by sudden acceleration incidents in Toyota vehicles.
Toyota’s American depositary receipts, each equal to two ordinary shares, had plunged as much as 22 percent from their peak this year amid the recalls. They rose $1.87, or 2.5 percent, to $76.76 at 2:23 p.m. today in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.
--With assistance from Alan Ohnsman in Los Angeles and Margaret Cronin Fisk in Southfield, Michigan. Editors: Romaine Bostick, Larry Liebert.
To contact the reporters on this story: Angela Greiling Keane in Washington at agreilingkea@bloomberg.net; Makiko Kitamura in Tokyo at mkitamura1@bloomberg.net.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at lliebert@bloomberg.net.
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-05-10/toyota-s-credibility-gap-sunk-in-after-visit-to-u-s-update2-.html
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PostPosted: Fri May 21, 2010 10:51 am    Post subject: Lawmakers Cast Doubt on Report That Toyota Called Independen Reply with quote

May 21, 2010
May 20, 2010

Lawmakers Cast Doubt on Report That Toyota Called Independent

By MICHELINE MAYNARD

In February, at the height of the Toyota recall crisis, company officials told Congressional investigators that they had hired an independent engineering firm to study the instances of sudden acceleration.

Later, Toyota aggressively promoted a 56-page report by the firm, Exponent, to rebut contentions by safety advocates who said that electronic systems in the automaker’s vehicles were to blame for accidents in California and elsewhere.

But several lawmakers said on Thursday that Exponent actually was hired by a Toyota law firm, not the carmaker itself, and primarily to do research that would be used to defend the company, based in Japan, in dozens of suits over cars accused of being defective. The lawmakers said there was no evidence that Exponent was originally retained to conduct a broader independent study, a conclusion shared by the government’s top safety regulator and acknowledged on Thursday by Toyota.

“It’s troubling, because Exponent and Toyota said they were taking a comprehensive look,” Representative Bart Stupak, a Democrat of Michigan, said at a hearing of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee.

Although Toyota has called Exponent “an appropriate choice” for an outside reviewer, documents made public by the subcommittee showed the firm had been paid $11 million by Toyota for consulting work from 2000 to 2009. And since December, when Toyota said Exponent was brought in to look at sudden acceleration, Exponent has billed a law firm hired by Toyota for a $3.3 million more, the documents showed.

James E. Lentz, the president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., acknowledged the situation might not appear as initially portrayed but said the law firm was no longer overseeing the work by Exponent, which is continuing. As of this week, the Exponent consultants report to officials responsible for Toyota’s quality effort, he said.

“I understand the perception that this is not a very transparent process,” Mr. Lentz said.

The revelation about Exponent gets at the heart of one of the most contentious issues over Toyota’s recent safety problems. Since last fall, Toyota has recalled more than nine million vehicles worldwide in a series of recalls, including two major ones for sticking pedals and for floor mats that could become entangled in accelerator pedals.

Despite suspicions by safety advocates and automotive experts that electronic systems on Toyota’s cars may be at the root of its problems, the carmaker has repeatedly insisted that electronics are not to blame for the sticking pedal issue. Mr. Lentz made the same claim at the hearing on Thursday.

But committee members said more than 100,000 pages of documents provided by Toyota showed nothing to support that.

“These assurances are baffling,” Henry A. Waxman, the committee’s chairman, said of Toyota’s contention that electronics were not at fault. The documents “don’t even come close to supporting the contention that Exponent investigated the electronic system,” he said.

David L. Strickland, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, appeared to confirm Mr. Waxman’s conclusion during his own testimony.

“What I understand is that all the preparation has been for litigation, not for the hypothesis of a problem,” Mr. Strickland said.

Later, Toyota said it sent a draft copy of a study by Exponent on vehicle electronics to the committee on Wednesday, the day before the hearing. But committee members did not mention having received it.

In an interview after the hearing, Mr. Lentz acknowledged that when Exponent was retained by Toyota in December, the main purpose was to prepare Toyota for the lawsuits.

But as the issue became bigger, it became clear “this needed to move away from the legal side of the house” and become part of Toyota’s overall quality effort, Mr. Lentz said.

He said the consulting firm now reported to Steve St. Angelo, a veteran Toyota manufacturing executive who recently was named its chief American quality officer.

As for electronics problems, “if that’s what they find, that’s what they find,” Mr. Lentz said.

Exponent has plenty of company in investigating the Toyota problems. The N.H.T.S.A. has asked the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as well as the National Academy of Science for assistance in exploring whether electronics are at the root of the sudden acceleration problems.

Thursday was the second time Mr. Lentz had appeared before the committee. His previous appearance, in February, came a day before Akio Toyoda, the company’s president, testified before another House committee and vowed to act more swiftly in addressing defects on Toyota automobiles.

At the same time, federal officials and lawmakers have taken issue with the company’s slowness in responding to recalls in the United States, after it took faster steps in Europe to fix similar problems.

On Tuesday, Toyota paid a $16.4 million fine, the largest allowed, for failing to act more quickly on the sticking pedal recall. It has not admitted fault, however.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/21/business/21toyota.html?src=busln


May 21, 2010
Toyota had attack plan against congressional testimony, documents show

By Michael D. Shear and Peter Whoriskey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 15, 2010; A10

Toyota officials sought to develop a public relations campaign to attack the credibility of key witnesses who have testified before Congress about acceleration problems with the company's cars, according to documents provided to the House committee investigating the automaker.

The effort was based in part on polling conducted for Toyota by Joel Benenson, President Obama's chief pollster. His poll questioned the integrity of the witnesses: Sean Kane, a Massachusetts safety consultant, and David Gilbert, an auto technology professor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Congressional investigators have demanded to know from company officials whether a campaign to debunk or discredit their witnesses was put into action.

The company says it never produced advertisements based on the polling. Still, plans for the campaign have drawn the ire of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which, upon learning of them, told the automaker to hand over all related documents.

Lawmakers "would take very seriously any effort to malign or intimidate witnesses who cooperate with our investigations," a committee spokesman said in a statement Friday.

In November, Toyota announced that it would replace accelerator pedals on about 4 million vehicles in the United States because they can get stuck in floor mats, causing unintended acceleration. The problem has been linked to as many as 39 deaths.

In news coverage and in public testimony, Kane and Gilbert have been highly critical of Toyota's response to the acceleration issue.

Kane works with victims' lawyers and runs a blog that is critical of Toyota. Gilbert testified to Congress in February that he had conducted an experiment showing a flaw in the electronics of a Toyota engine that could explain some of the incidents of unintended acceleration. The company has denied that electronics are a factor.

In a statement Friday, Toyota said Gilbert and Kane had made "assertions" that had "created unwarranted consumer concern."
"Toyota, like most organizations, conducts regular public opinion research," the company said, adding that Benenson had "tested for the widest range of potential messages to measure effectiveness."

Political candidates and companies often use polling to test the weaknesses of their critics or opponents. Benenson's survey, titled the "Kane/Gilbert Debunking Message Test," directed pollsters to read several negative statements about Gilbert and Kane. The survey noted that a study Kane had commissioned from Gilbert was "nothing more than a manufactured stunt -- a parlor trick that would affect nearly all cars the same way, not just Toyotas." Having heard that, respondents were asked to say whether that changed their opinion of Kane's and Gilbert's credibility.

Benenson declined to talk about the matter, saying, "We have been doing work for Toyota for three years, and we don't discuss publicly the work we do for any clients."

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), the House committee chairman, sent a letter to Toyota's president in March demanding "all documents" about the poll. The matter is expected to be made public in a hearing next week.

Attorneys for Toyota responded to the committee in an least two letters. In one dated April 9, the company's top lawyer acknowledged that Benenson's survey results were used "primarily to guide the company's advertising development efforts. Ultimately, Toyota chose not to place advertising relating to this issue."

In their second response, on April 28, company officials cited a letter from Benenson submitted to the committee in which the veteran pollster said that "testing messages to rebut unfair or false assertions is a common and legitimate research practice and is no different than message testing our firm regularly does for Congressional candidates or Congressional campaign committees in response to critics or opponents."

According to documents provided to the committee, Toyota received advice about how to respond to Kane and Gilbert from Benenson and New York public relations firm Robinson, Lerer & Montgomery. The documents show that Benenson's firm, Benenson Strategy Group, has conducted 25 surveys about Toyota's reputation since December 2009.
On Friday, Kane said he considered the automaker's attempts to discredit him as validation.

"If we weren't finding something that was meaningful, they wouldn't be spending this kind of time and money," he said in an interview. "But what we're seeing is that they're willing to go to great lengths to discredit anyone who asks questions about their products."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/14/AR2010051405390.html?hpid=topnews

May 21, 2010

Toyota under investigation again for delayed steering rod recall

05/12/2010 // West Palm Beach, Florida, USA // Nicole Howley // Nicole Howley

Washington D.C.—Toyota is under fire yet again over allegations that the automaker delayed a recall of about one million truck and SUVs for defective steering rods. The new investigation was launched in part by the death of an Idaho teenager who was killed while driving a Toyota vehicle, as reported by ABC News.

Levi Stewart, 18, was killed when his Toyota truck rolled in 2007. About three months following his death, a “long-delayed recall notice from Toyota arrived in the mail at the Stewart home.” The notice stated that in the worst case scenario, the steering relay rod might fracture, causing the driver to loose steering control, increasing the possibility of a crash. Levi’s family subsequently sued Toyota for product liability and failure to warn. They believe that Toyota knew of the defect long before the fatal accident and should have issued a recalled in the months prior to the accident. Levi’s parents say the crash was attributed to the defective steering rod.

Toyota issued a recall in Japan in October 2004 of 330,000 vehicles to replace the steering relay rods. A U.S. recall was not issued until a year later in September 2005, when the automaker finally acknowledged that the rods were prone to breaking under stress.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is now investigating the claims that numerous Toyota owners had complained about the rods before 2004.

Legal News Reporter: Nicole Howley- Legal news for product liability lawyers.

Media Information:

Address:
Phone: 561-653-3266
Url: http://NicoleHowley.visionsmartnews.com/toyota-under-investigation-again_265.html
http://www.justicenewsflash.com/2010/05/13/toyota-under-investigation-again_201005134312.html
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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2010 11:27 am    Post subject: Toyota Has Another Recall That Is Adding Sequoia To A Length Reply with quote

Toyota Has Another Recall That Is Adding Sequoia To A Lengthy List

May 26, 2010

Another Toyota recall was issued. Wednesday, Toyota Motor Corp. announced a program to upgrade software to prevent a loss of control in turns for about 50,000 Toyota Sequoia SUVs made in early 2003. The Toyota Sequoia recall is yet another fire for Toyota’s public relations department to extinguish.

Toyota has been hemorrhaging money and losing market share. The list of recall that seems to be growing is adding, in an anemic market, insult to injury for new cars and trucks. Toyota Sequoia recall notices will start going out to affected owners next month.

Recall list for Toyota is growing

The Toyota Sequoia recall to fix the vehicles’ electronic stability control follows closely on the heels of a rare “don’t buy” rating for the Lexus GX 460 issued by Consumer Reports. Tests on the Lexus GX 460 performed by the magazine exposed defects in the electronic stability control that could cause a rollover of the SUV in everyday driving.

After getting the don't buy rating, production of the Lexus GX 460 stopped. Consumers are very reluctant to get auto financing for Toyotas because of a parade of bad PR that started in 2009 with a widespread reports of braking and unintended acceleration problems.

Toyota Sequoia recall reasons

In the Toyota Sequoia recall announcement, Toyota said that drivers in vehicles that didn't have the upgrade could experience the stability control system briefly activating at low speeds of less than 10 mph as the Sequoia accelerates from a stop. This could keep the driver from accelerating to a desired speed. No injuries or accidents as a result of this condition have been reported so far. Control is maintained in unexpected situations by the computerized system called Electronic Stability Control.

The Toyota Sequoia recall is now official

The Los Angeles Times reports that Toyota has known about the Sequoia stability control problem for seven years. The problem was fixed on later models that were financed with auto loans. Anyone who complained about their early 2003 Toyota Sequoias was dealt with by the dealers. An investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of electronic stability control malfunctions in Toyota Sequoias showed that there were 163 safety-related failure incidents in the last 18 months. The latest Toyota recall contributes to a total of about 10.5 million Toyota recall notices worldwide in the last seven months for problems ranging from unintended acceleration to braking and corrosion.

Toyota's recall list

Just a few weeks before the Toyota Sequoia recall announcement, the Consumer Reports warning not to get a car loan to buy a 2010 Lexus GX 460 ended up leading to a recall of 9,400 of the SUVs. Soon after, a Toyota recall, this time voluntary, was issued for about 600,000 Sienna minivans sold in the U.S. because of possible corrosion in the spare-tire carrier cable. There is more still. The federal government slapped Toyota with a record $ 16.4-million fine for failing to inform the public that gas pedals in eight models could stick and cause sudden acceleration. It was the largest fine on an automaker ever levied by the NHTSA.

Resources for the article

The Los Angeles Times
href=”http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-toyota-recall-20100428,0,6993931.story
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/results.cfm?rcl_id=10V017&searchtype=quicksearch&summary=true&refurl=email
http://automotive.eutech.org/uncategorized/toyota-has-another-recall-that-is-adding-sequoia-to-a-lengthy-list/

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:29 pm    Post subject: O.C. man ends Toyota picketing over ‘lemon’ Reply with quote

O.C. man ends Toyota picketing over ‘lemon’

June 15th, 2010, 11:09 am • 20 Comments • posted by Matt Degen

You won’t see Tony Scanaliato picketing outside Toyota of Huntington Beach on weekends anymore. That’s because after two years of legal wrangling and much of that period protesting outside the dealership, the Huntington Beach resident received a settlement from Toyota Motor Corp. over a 2007 Tundra that he claimed was a lemon.

The saga began soon after Scanaliato, 66, bought the truck new for about $35,000, when he said its 5.7-liter V8 engine began to sound odd, almost like that of a diesel.

He said the sound did not appear to affect the truck’s performance, but it bothered him all the same and he couldn’t find a remedy for it despite doing extensive research online about the issue, which has been reported in forums by other owners of the truck as well, some saying the sound is due to “piston slap.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are no recalls for such an issue on the truck. (Click HERE to search bulletins on the site.)

Scanaliato said his issue went beyond that of simple knocking or piston slap, however, and returned the truck to the dealer where he bought it seeking a buyback. The dealer had to refuse because the truck had been damaged in a minor accident.

Toyota of Huntington Beach General Manager Bob Miller said he offered to buy back the truck, but that it turned out to be damaged.

“We sat down … after he bought the truck,” Miller said. “I told him, ‘All the engines make that noise; there are 32 valves in there.’ I said, ‘Tony, why don’t I buy back the truck?’ He said OK, and as it turns out it’d been in an accident. I think he backed into a wall or something. So I couldn’t buy it back. I would have bought it back and resold it.”

Scanaliato said the damage was minimal, though, and continued to picket the dealership on Beach Boulevard, wearing a custom-made shirt that claimed he bought a lemon and fastening similar signage to his truck, which he parked outside of the dealership on weekends and picketed for several hours a day.

He also lost an arbitration case held in 2007, in which the arbitrator found the truck was “operating as designed,” similar to what a mechanic at the dealership found, as well as a Toyota field technician who also inspected the truck.

Still, Scanaliato continued in his fight, claiming that the truck just wasn’t right, and that it didn’t sound problematic when he test-drove it before buying.

Scanaliato enlisted attorney Jim Whitworth of Fountain Valley, who specializes in lemon-law cases. Whitworth said Scanaliato is the only client he has had who’s taken such drastic measures, and that doing so isn’t something he’d normally advise. But for Scanaliato, picketing is what kept him going.

Finally, in late April Toyota settled the case out of court, cutting Scanaliato a check for $29,000. For his compensation, Whitworth got the truck, which was valued at about $20,000, Scanaliato said.

Whitworth said he plans to use the vehicle as a form of advertisement that can advise other consumers about lemon law.

“I’m trying to formulate a way to put Tony’s story on a never-ending advertisement,” Whitworth said.”That’s ultimately the idea.”
Miller said that while he didn’t think Scanaliato’s picketing deterred customers, he’s glad Scanaliato is gone anyway.

“We did absolutely nothing wrong,” Miller said of the dealership. “He took it to Toyota and Toyota settled. Every dealer is held harmless by the manufacturer. I didn’t build the car.”

While a Toyota official could not comment specifically on Scanaliato’s case, he said the issue of piston slap was known in a very limited number of Tundra trucks.

“There has been some customer complaints, but they were extremely low,” said Brian Lyons, a spokesman in Toyota’s quality communications department. “They were dealt with on a case by case basis.”

“The knocking that happened in rare cases did not affect the durability or drivability of the vehicle,” Lyons added. “This is a customer-satisfaction issue, not one of safety or durability.”

As for Scanaliato, he said he was anything but satisfied with his Toyota experience, and that his personal crusade against the automaker isn’t over.

“There is no closure until people know,” he said. “If (Toyota) had bought the truck back (to begin with), it would have been an admission of guilt. Just like they didn’t admit the problems with their gas pedals. They could have given me a new engine from Day One and still had me as a customer. That would have just cost them about $5,000. They just don’t want to admit guilt.”

Scanaliato, who now drives a Dodge truck, the bulk of which he paid for with the settlement money, says he hopes that his ordeal can at least help others.

“I just don’t want someone to go through what I went through,” he said, citing that not giving up is the key for consumers who may face a similar situation. “People today have to stand up.”

In a twist of coincidence, Scanaliato was back on a picket line until a few days ago: He was on strike with his union against Boeing in Seal Beach, where he works as an aircraft planner.

Taking an optimistic viewpoint, Scanaliato says his picketing against the Toyota dealership gave him endurance for his latest current strike.
“That walking did me good,” he said. “I can walk for four hours now.”

Photos courtesy of Anthony Scanaliato
http://auto.freedomblogging.com/2010/06/15/o-c-man-ends-toyota-picketing-over-lemon/35293/
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 12:49 pm    Post subject: Toyota Accused Of 'pattern Of' Coverups Reply with quote

Toyota Accused Of 'pattern Of' Coverups

Published on June 14, 2010 Comments (Be the first)

by NewsDesk - iWireNews ™

(iWireNews ™ and OfficialWire)

WASHINGTON, DC
The head of an automobile industry watchdog group said Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp. had repeatedly delayed announcements of product defects.

"There is a pattern of covering up defects at Toyota," said Clarence Ditlow, head of the Center for Auto Safety, USA Today reported Monday.

Court papers filed in a California lawsuit show Toyota, which paid a record $16 .4 million National Highway Traffic Safety Administration fine this year for delaying recalls of millions of vehicles for problems with speed control, also knew about a problem with cracking steering relay rods for at least 11 years before issuing a recall on the issue.

Toyota recalled compact pickup trucks, 4Runner SUVs and other vehicles in Japan in 2004 to replace the steering relay rods. It waited another year before issuing a U.S. recall.

At the time, "Given the low number of incidents and lack of injuries or fatalities over a span of many years in this case, we did not have information that warranted an investigation," agency spokeswoman Julia Piscitelli said.

The lawsuit in California was filed on behalf of an 18-year-old, Michael Levi Stewart, who died after an accident in a Toyota compact pickup truck. The family received notice of a recall three months after the fatal crash in September 2007, court papers say.

http://www.officialwire.com/main.php?action=posted_news&rid=160587
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 9:23 am    Post subject: BREAKING: Lexus recalls HS250h over risk of excessive fuel l Reply with quote

BREAKING: Lexus recalls HS250h over risk of excessive fuel leakage

by Steven J. Ewing (RSS feed) on Jun 25th 2010 at 4:35PM

Back in the 1970s, the Ford Pinto was the focus of many headlines due to a fuel tank issue which caused excessive amounts of gasoline to leak during a rear-end collision. Now, three decades later, Lexus is having a similar problem with its HS250h hybrid, and has filed a report with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue a voluntary recall of these vehicles. Up to 17,000 of the luxury hybrids are affected.

In the case of the HS, excessive fuel leakage occurred during rear-end collisions at speeds of 50 miles per hour. We don't need to remind you about the dangers of excessive fuel spillage, but let's just say that the end result can be very, very bad.

As of this writing, Lexus has not advised NHTSA about what steps will be taken to fix the defective HS models. Make the jump for the full details.

http://www.autoblog.com/2010/06/25/breaking-lexus-recalls-hs250h-over-risk-of-excessive-fuel-leaka/?icid=main|htmlws-sb-w|dl4|link6|http%3A%2F%2Fwww.autoblog.com%2F2010%2F06%2F25%2Fbreaking-lexus-recalls-hs250h-over-risk-of-excessive-fuel-leaka%2F
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2010 10:40 pm    Post subject: Here we go again.....lying Japs ....dumb Americans!!! Reply with quote

Here we go again.....lying Japs ....dumb Americans!!!!!

Toyota Says 270,000 Vehicles Have Faulty Engines

No Word Given On Possible Recall

BY SHINO YUASA, Associated Press Writer
Posted: 8:11 pm PDT June 30, 2010
Updated: 11:19 am PDT July 1, 2010

TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. said Thursday about 270,000 cars sold worldwide - including luxury Lexus sedans - have potentially faulty engines, the latest quality lapse to hit the automaker following massive global recalls of top-selling models.

Japan's top-selling daily Yomiuri said in its evening edition that Toyota will inform the transport ministry of a recall on Monday. The paper cited no sources.

Toyota spokesman Hideaki Homma said the company was evaluating measures to deal with the problem of defective engines that can stall while the vehicle is moving. He would not confirm a recall was being considered.

The automaker has been working to patch up its reputation after recalling more than 8 million vehicles worldwide because of unintended acceleration and other defects.

Of the 270,000 vehicles with engine problems, some 180,000 were sold overseas (USA?) and the rest in Japan. They include the popular Crown and seven models of luxury Lexus sedans.

Toyota said it has received around 200 complaints in Japan over faulty engines. Some drivers told Toyota that the engines made a strange noise.

Homma said there have been no reports of accidents linked to the faulty engines.

The automaker's shares dropped 2.3 percent to close at 3,010 yen in Tokyo on Thursday.

U.S. authorities recently slapped Toyota with a record $16.4 million fine for acting too slowly to recall vehicles with defects. Toyota dealers have repaired millions of vehicles, but the automaker still faces more than 200 lawsuits tied to accidents, the lower resale value of Toyota vehicles and the drop in the company's stock.

In the aftermath of the recalls, Congress is considering an upgrade to auto safety laws to toughen potential penalties against automakers, give the U.S. government more powers to demand a recall and push car companies to meet new safety standards.

Toyota said last week it will recall 17,000 Lexus luxury hybrids after testing showed that fuel can spill during a rear-end crash.

http://www.kxly.com/automotive/24104055/detail.html
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 02, 2010 5:19 pm    Post subject: Toyota to recall 138,000 Lexus vehicles in US Reply with quote

Toyota to recall 138,000 Lexus vehicles in US

Toyota to recall 138,000 Lexus vehicles in US to fix faulty engines that can stall in motion

Ken Thomas, Associated Press Writer, On Friday July 2, 2010, 5:29 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Toyota Motor Corp. said Friday it intends to recall 138,000 Lexus vehicles in the United States to fix faulty engines in the latest quality problem to afflict the world's No. 1 automaker.

The Japanese automaker said flaws in valve springs, a crucial engine component, could make the vehicle stall while in motion. Toyota confirmed in a statement it plans to file paperwork with the government on the recall next week.

The recall affects certain GS, IS and LS vehicles from the 2006-2008 model years powered by 4.6 and 5.0 liter V8 engines and 3.5 liter V6 engines. No accidents or injuries have been reported. Vehicles from the 2009 and 2010 model years are not affected.

Toyota had announced in Japan that it would recall 270,000 Lexus vehicles around the world to address the engine stalling problems. The global recall affects seven luxury Lexus sedan models as well as the popular Crown sedan, sold primarily in Japan. Of the 270,000 recalled cars, some 180,000 were sold overseas, including the United States, and 90,000 in Japan.

The company has received about 200 complaints in Japan but no accidents were reported there or abroad, said Toyota spokesman Hideaki Homma. Some drivers told Toyota that engines made a strange noise.

The automaker was already scrambling to repair its reputation after 8.5 million vehicles were recalled beginning in October because of problems with sticking accelerator pedals and other issues. Toyota was slapped with a record $16.4 million fine in the United States for acting too slowly to recall vehicles with defects.

Japan's major daily Asahi said Friday the latest recall of 270,000 vehicles could cost Toyota around 20 billion yen ($227 million). Toyota could not confirm the report, which gave no sources.

Toyota will inform Japan's transport ministry of the recall on Monday. The company said it would file its recall report in the U.S. next week. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it had not received official notification of the recall.

Some of the vehicle models covered under the recall include: 2007-2008 GS350 and GS450h; 2008 GS460; 2006-2008 IS350; 2007-2008 LS460 and LS460L; and 2008 LS600hL.

Toyota said owners will be notified of the recall by mail and dealers will repair the engine's valve springs at no charge. The company said owners can continue to drive their vehicles. If they notice vibration, unusual engine sounds or rough idling, they should bring the car to a dealer for service.

Lexus general manager Mark Templin told dealers in an e-mail that "we understand the frustration and embarrassment these recalls cause and appreciate your reassuring Lexus owners that there is nothing more important to us than their safety, satisfaction with our products and confidence in you and the brand."

Toyota dealers have repaired millions of vehicles following the massive global recalls, but the automaker still faces more than 200 lawsuits tied to accidents, the lower resale value of Toyota vehicles, and the drop in the company's stock.

Toyota said last week it will recall 17,000 Lexus luxury hybrids after testing showed that fuel can spill during a rear-end crash.

U.S. regulators were working with scientists from NASA to investigate what caused some of Toyota's vehicles to suddenly accelerate. That review is expected to be completed by late August.

Officials were also investigating whether Toyota waited nearly a year in 2005 to recall trucks and SUVs in the U.S. with defective steering rods, a case that could lead to additional fines.

Associated Press writer Shino Yuasa in Tokyo contributed to this report.
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Toyota-to-recall-138000-Lexus-apf-2163064512.html?x=0
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:01 pm    Post subject: Toyota Knew About Lexus Problem 2 Years Ago Reply with quote

July 09, 2010
Toyota Knew About Lexus Problem 2 Years Ago

Some 270,000 Vehicles Need Engine Fix

YURI KAGEYAMA, AP Business Writer
POSTED: 9:36 pm CDT July 5, 2010
UPDATED: 6:28 am CDT July 6, 2010

TOKYO --Toyota knew two years ago about the engine problem behind
its latest Lexus recall, even changing the spring part to correct it, but did not think a recall was warranted until recently, a company official said Tuesday.

Toyota Motor Corp. started Monday a global recall over engine defects in its Lexus luxury models sold around the world, as well as the Crown sold in Japan, moving to repair some 270,000 vehicles to replace valve springs - crucial engine components that are flawed and could cause vehicles to stall.

In August 2008, Toyota changed that spring part, making it thicker, to prevent the problem, spokesman Hideaki Homma told The Associated Press. That is why the latest recall does not affect vehicles produced after August 2008.

Toyota, the world's top automaker, previously thought the problem was caused by a foreign substance entering during manufacturing of the valve springs, and beefed up checks so that wouldn't happen. But the company had thought the issue was an isolated problem that didn't require a recall.

"We changed the part in August because then the problem won't happen at all, even if tiny particles enter during manufacturing," Homma said. "We are talking about microscopic particles here."

But the complaints started climbing, and Toyota decided recently they weren't isolated problems after all, but a design defect, and decided to issue the recall, Homma said.

Toyota has promised to recall problem cars more quickly to salvage a once pristine reputation now in tatters after recalls ballooned to more than 8.5 million vehicles around the world since October.

Toyota executives have repeatedly vowed to put customers first. But it has been criticized as lagging in its response to quality lapses, and was slapped with a record $16.4 million in the United States for responding too slowly when the recall crisis erupted.

Auto analyst Koji Endo at Advanced Research Japan Co. said automakers routinely improve parts and technology when a product is remodeled, and the facts don't necessarily point to an intentional cover-up.

But he said that recall after recall at Toyota was devastating for its image, underlining how it had not properly paid attention to quality during its booming expansion years.

"They are paying for that now," he said. "Demand had been surging and so it was difficult to balance that with maintaining quality."

Endo said the popularity of the Lexus was likely to drop in the U.S., giving a chance for growth to luxury rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz amid a gradually recovering market.

Affected in the latest recall were Lexus models GS350, GS450h, GS460, IS350, LS460, LS600h, LS600hL and Crown models, including about 138,000 vehicles in the U.S., nearly 92,000 in Japan, 15,000 in Europe, 10,000 in the Middle East, 6,000 in China, 4,000 in Canada, and 8,000 elsewhere.

Toyota has received about 200 complaints, but no accidents due to the defects have been reported.

The latest woes come on top of a recall last week for 17,000 Lexus hybrids after testing showed fuel can spill during a rear-end crash.

Toyota faces more than 200 lawsuits in the U.S. tied to accidents involving defective automobiles, the lower resale value of Toyota vehicles, and a drop in its stock value.

http://www.4029tv.com/automotive/24151215/detail.html
July 09, 2010
Monday, July 5, 2010 1:30 PM EDT
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 11:28 am    Post subject: It's time to hold Toyota responsible Reply with quote

It's time to hold Toyota responsible

Letter to the Editor
Published: 7/10/2010 12:01 AM

The Toyota Motor Car Company has been running commercials on television thanking its customers for their loyalty.

Yeah, sure.

The over fifty deaths caused by defects in their cars were a direct result of holding back information that could have saved lives.

Loyalty. Yeah, sure.

The Justice Department needs to begin prosecuting the individuals at Toyota responsible for these deaths.

Clyde Diven

Hoffman Estates
http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=390328&src=
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 3:47 pm    Post subject: Toyota Recalls Vehicle In Factory Again - Lexus Reply with quote

July 20, 2010

Toyota Recalls Vehicle In Factory Again - Lexus

19.07.2010 | Author: Mihai Jepan | Posted in Automotive

Japanese manufacturer Toyota has to do a recall in U.S. for 17,000 copies of the Lexus 250h HS due to significant fuel leak. This problem arose when NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has developed a test that simulate the impact at a speed of 80 mph on the back of the car.

Japanese manufacturer has no explanation for the occurrence of this phenomenon and according to U.S. laws he is forced to halt deliveries of this model to a solution. Also, Toyota has not notified NHTSA the period of time that will solve the problem arising from HS Lexus 250h.

Toyota engineers repaired 3.2 million models affected by the recall, organized at a worldwide level. Japanese manufacturer has to fix up another 4.6 million units they will finish to repair all models that had various technical problems lately. From the 3.2 million fixed models, Toyota engineers repair about 1.6 million units with pedal accelerator problems, 1.5 million units with problems in carpets and 115,000 hybrid units needed reprogramming the ABS’s .

Over 732,000 vehicles have been called for carpets recall, another recall related to accelerator pedal, the number increased to 2.4 million vehicles repaired units.

“Toyota and Lexus dealers are working hard to solve our customers cars. That’s why we try to fix the vehicles in question as soon as convenient for them and we appreciate the extraordinary effort they showed us. In the last three months, Toyota has followed a commitment to listen to the voices of its customers and to respond more quickly and effectively to their needs. Moreover, we want to thank our customers for the patience they showed during the recall, we implemented our sites and we want to convey that we will not disappoint” said Steve St.Angelo, quality manager of Toyota North America.

On average, Toyota repair service sites around 120,000 units with the accelerator pedal problems every week. ABS problems were fixed in 75% of the total, being only about 147,500 units models of Prius and Lexus. The problem with carpets has been repaired at a rate of 27%, and 70% of the accelerator pedal which could have been repaired hang.

Toyota temporarily suspended sales of Lexus GX 460 in all the markets that this model was offered. This news comes just two days after Americans were granted the Consumer Reports rating of “Do not buy: safety at risk” Lexus GX 460 after a test revealed stability problems in extreme conditions. Though no casualty was reported with this model because of this, people at Toyota will carry out checks to ensure that everything is in order and to make any changes in this way.

Toyota will check all the SUVs along with reporting this issue to the Lexus GX 460. Toyota engineers are already involved in a recall of 8.6 million units, and the problems reported by Americans from Consumer Reports Japanese manufacturer would bring another important issue of image.

Toyota officials have expressed faith in GX 460 abilities and will demonstrate that the model is up to safety standards promoted by them. Lexus GX 460 is the only SUV whose sales will be stopped while performing safety inspections made by Toyota’s engineers.
Every customer of Lexus GX 460 Each will receive a car instead of the hand that holds the time when Toyota will test the potential safety issue.

http://www.hotmake.info/business-and-industry/automotive/toyota-recalls-vehicle-in-factory-again/
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:50 pm    Post subject: Toyota appears to do an about-face on reliability of black b Reply with quote

July 28, 2010
latimes.com

Toyota appears to do an about-face on reliability of black boxes in its vehicles

The automaker previously said the devices' data could not be relied upon to determine the cause of accidents, but is now citing the readings to suggest that driver error is causing sudden acceleration.
By Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times


July 29, 2010

Toyota Motor Corp. has argued for years that the electronic black boxes in its vehicles used unproven technology that could not be relied upon to determine the cause of accidents.

Now, facing continued claims that its vehicles are defective, Toyota appears to have done an about-face.

The Japanese automaker has been citing data from black boxes in Toyota and Lexus vehicles to suggest that driver error, rather than mechanical or electronic defects, is causing sudden acceleration.

In court cases, regulatory filings and dealings with customers, Toyota has for years branded the devices —called event data recorders, or EDRs — as unreliable. It has also said the tools used to read the reports are prototypes.

"It sounds duplicitous when all along Toyota has been saying this is unreliable, and now they are using it as their defense and they are not releasing the data to the public," said Henry Jasney, senior counsel at Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, a Washington, D.C., group. "Until there is full disclosure of all the information in all the accidents, we can't be sure what the data is telling us."

The devices, introduced about a decade ago, record data such as speed, braking and gas pedal position, and are part of the electronics that control airbags.

Toyota spokesman Mike Michels said the automaker's position had evolved as EDRs improved over time.

"The technology in EDRs has been developing over many years," Michels said. "I'd say if we were asked today whether we had confidence in them, we'd have a different answer."

This spring, amid widening concerns about sudden acceleration, Toyota sent teams of technicians around the U.S. to investigate motorist claims. It has reviewed more than 2,000 incidents to date, extracting data from black boxes when there was a wreck.

This month, Toyota said EDR data in a selected group of those crashes — it declined to reveal how many — showed that drivers had mistakenly stepped on the gas even though they claimed they had hit the brake.

"We're not implying that everything is driver error," Michels said, noting that floor mat interference and sticking pedals can also cause sudden acceleration. "But in instances where they reported having their foot on the brake pedal, there is very clear evidence that it is pedal misapplication."

Lawyers who have battled Toyota in court cases say the company is contradicting itself.

"Sometimes they've claimed it's unreliable, other times they say they can't even access the data, and now they're holding it up as proof that they're innocent," said Steve Van Gaasbeck, a Texas attorney who has been stymied by Toyota in several attempts to get EDR data admitted in trials. "They want it both ways."

In 2005, Toyota engineer Motoki Shibata argued in an affidavit filed in federal court in New Jersey that the downloaded data from a 2002 Corolla should not be entered into evidence. He stated that EDR data "is used by the manufacturer for quality purposes only" and that Toyota "does not rely on such crash data to reconstruct accidents in the field."

Two years later, Toyota technical analysis manager Mark Jakstis told a New Jersey state court that an EDR readout of a wrecked 2003 Echo was "unreliable." He noted numerous errors, including data indicating that the passenger wasn't wearing a seatbelt. Both plaintiffs and defendants agreed that the passenger was buckled in.

Toyota, Jakstis concluded, "cannot vouch for the reliability of any data downloaded," from the black box, court records show. The judge agreed to exclude the readout.

In late 2008, Toyota posted a Q&A on black boxes on its website noting that its readout tool was not scientifically validated and that the company "does not have confidence that the readout reports it generates are accurate."

Because of that, and the fact that the automaker had only one such tool in the U.S., the site said, "Toyota will not honor EDR readout requests from private individuals or their attorneys."

This spring, however, the automaker announced that it was deploying 150 EDR readers in the U.S. and Canada, giving some to safety regulators and using the rest to conduct field inspections of sudden-acceleration complaints.

Toyota has also removed the Q&A page from its website. Spokesman Michels said a new page with an updated policy was in the works.

In a March court deposition, Toyota technical analysis manager Robert Landis said that in the wake of congressional hearings examining sudden acceleration, the company had changed its policy and would download EDR data on request.

"We're trying to show that in these vehicles that there is at times pedal misapplication," Landis said.

One of the black boxes read by Toyota this spring came from a 2007 Tundra that crashed into a tree in Washington state three years ago, killing 29-year-old Christopher Eves.

His father, Ron Eves, attempted to get a readout of the vehicle's EDR, but the automaker refused until Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) asked for it in a March hearing.

The results, taken by Toyota in early April, indicated that the truck was traveling at roughly 75 miles per hour, but somehow slowed by 177 mph after hitting the tree.

Eves, who acknowledges that his son had alcohol in his blood at the time of the accident, said he didn't believe the results of the readout were accurate.

A review of half a dozen other Toyota EDR readouts obtained by attorneys and vehicle owners show a variety of inconsistencies.

The readout for a 2009 Avalon that crashed into a pond in Southlake, Texas, on Dec. 26, killing all four passengers, lacks data on velocity as well as brake and accelerator application — despite the fact that the EDR on the vehicle is equipped to capture those inputs.

Toyota's Michels declined to comment on individual cases, citing company policy.

Unlike black boxes on airplanes, EDRs are not crashproof. The unit in the Lexus ES that crashed near San Diego last August, killing four people including an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer, was so damaged by fire that it could not be read.

In cases where there is no accident, which represent the overwhelming majority of sudden-acceleration complaints, EDRs don't usually record at all. They also may not be tamperproof — a number of Internet retailers sell products designed to wipe black-box memory.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, using 10 readers provided by Toyota this spring, has been downloading EDRs on its own. The regulator hasn't said how many cars it has reviewed, and a spokeswoman said the regulator has drawn no conclusions.

Neither NHTSA nor Toyota has released specific data from its black-box analyses.

Transport Canada, NHTSA's Canadian counterpart, received four EDR readers from Toyota on March 10.

In a statement, the regulator said it had reviewed 45 EDRs since then, including 13 from Toyota vehicles involved in crashes blamed on sudden acceleration.

"There has been no data to support a pedal misapplication," Transport Canada said in a statement.

ken.bensinger@latimes.com

ralph.vartabedian@latimes.com

latimes.com/business/la-fi-0729-toyota-blackbox-20100729,0,5008343.story
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:14 am    Post subject: Toyota recalls 412,000 cars in US - Once Again!!! Reply with quote

Is this ever going to END?????

Toyota recalls 412,000 cars in US, 16,000 in Japan

Toyota recalls 412,000 cars in US, 16,000 in Japan, for steering problems


ShareretweetEmailPrintYuri Kageyama, AP Business Writer, On Thursday July 29, 2010, 10:04 am

TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota is recalling 412,000 passenger cars, mostly the Avalon model, in the U.S., and another 16,420 vehicles in Japan for steering problems, the automaker said Thursday(7-29-10).

The 373,000 Avalons being recalled in the U.S. range from the 2000 model year through to 2004 and have improper casting of the steering lock bar -- a component for the steering system -- causing cracks to develop on the surface.

In some cases, the crack can cause the lock bar to break, potentially leading to a crash if the steering wheel locks, the world's No. 1 automaker by car sales said. No injuries have been reported from the accidents that may be caused by the defect, it said.

Recalled in Japan for a similar problem are 6,750 vehicles, called Pronard, built from February 2000 through January 2004, Toyota and the Japanese transport ministry said. There have been three reported problems linked to the defect but no accidents in Japan, the ministry said.

Also being recalled in the U.S. are 39,000 Lexus luxury model LX 470s for the 2003-2007 model years because of a steering shaft problem, which is different from the Avalon steering problem, according to Toyota.

That problem affects 9,670 vehicles in Japan, two Land Cruiser models, the ministry said. One problem has been reported but no accidents are suspected of being linked to the defect, it said.

Toyota said it will fix the Avalon steering problem by replacing a part called the steering column bracket. The problem with the LX 470 will be fixed by replacing a component in the steering shaft called a snap ring. Customers affected by the recalls will begin receiving mailings in August instructing them to take their cars to their dealer for the repairs, Toyota said.

The latest recall comes on top of some 8.5 million vehicles that have been recalled around the world by Toyota Motor Corp. since October for a spate of problems, including faulty floor mats, defective gas pedals and braking software glitches.

The recall crisis has damaged Toyota's reputation for quality and customer service.

Toyota executives have repeatedly vowed to put customers first. But it has been criticized as lagging in its response to quality lapses, and was slapped with a record $16.4 million fine in the United States for responding too slowly when the recall crisis erupted.

Earlier this month, Toyota announced a recall of some 270,000 vehicles, mostly Lexus cars, for engine problems, dealing a further blow to its image because Lexus is its top-end luxury brand.

Toyota faces more than 200 lawsuits in the U.S. tied to accidents involving defective automobiles, the lower resale value of Toyota vehicles, and a drop in its stock value.

"Toyota is continuing to work diligently to address safety issues wherever they arise and to strengthen our global quality assurance operations so that Toyota owners can be confident in the safety of their vehicles," said Steve St. Angelo, Toyota chief quality officer for North America.

Owners of Avalon and Lexus cars are being notified next month, being asked to bring in their cars to nearby Toyota and Lexus dealers for a free fix, according to Toyota.

"Our engineers have thoroughly investigated this issue and have identified a robust and durable remedy that will help prevent this condition from affecting drivers in the future," said Mark Templin, group vice president and general manager of Lexus.

AP Auto Writer Dan Strumpf contributed to this report from New York.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Toyota-recalls-412000-cars-in-apf-2557643097.html?x=0
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 10:21 am    Post subject: Toyota Knew in 2003 of Acceleration Risk, Suit Says Reply with quote

Toyota Knew in 2003 of Acceleration Risk, Suit Says

August 02, 2010, 7:51 PM EDT

Business Exchange By Margaret Cronin Fisk

(Updates with excerpts from filing in second paragraph.)

Aug. 2 (Bloomberg) -- A Toyota Motor Corp. technician called sudden acceleration an “extremely dangerous problem” in 2003, six years before the first of several recalls of the company’s vehicles, a lawsuit claimed.

The unidentified Toyota employee “requested immediate action,” after investigating an allegation of unintended acceleration, lawyers for consumers suing the company said in a filing today. “We are also much afraid of frequency of this problem in near future,” the technician wrote in a May 2003 field report cited in the suit.

The report was among multiple documents quoted in a consolidated complaint filed today by consumers claiming economic losses related to sudden acceleration by Toyota vehicles. The lawsuits, which have been combined for pretrial filings and rulings in federal court in Santa Ana, California, claim that Toyota drove down the value of vehicles by failing to fix or disclose defects leading to unintended acceleration.

“Toyota has consistently marketed its vehicles as safe and proclaimed that safety is one of its highest corporate priorities,” consumer lawyers said in an amended complaint, citing documents provided to U.S. regulators and Congress. “The defects causing unintended acceleration have caused defective vehicles’ values to plummet.”

Rejects Claims

Toyota rejects claims the plaintiffs suffered economic damages because of the recent recalls, spokeswoman Celeste Migliore said in an e-mail.

“Reliable scientific evidence will demonstrate the safety of our vehicles in the investigations currently under way and, ultimately, to the court,” she said.

Also today, a Maryland public employee pension fund was named lead plaintiff in a consolidated shareholder lawsuit against Toyota that alleges the carmaker didn’t disclose sudden- acceleration related defects. U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer, at a hearing in Los Angeles named the fund’s law firm, Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossman LLP, lead counsel.

Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, faces more than 300 federal and state lawsuits including proposed class actions over economic losses and claims of personal injuries or deaths caused by sudden-acceleration incidents. Today’s complaint consolidates and expands on the claims of consumers who’ve filed lawsuits over lost vehicle value.

Recalled Vehicles

The company, based in Toyota City, Japan, has recalled more than 8 million vehicles for repairs related to sudden, unintended acceleration. In September the automaker announced a recall of 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles because of a defect that may cause floor mats to jam accelerator pedals. The company later recalled vehicles over defects involving the pedals themselves.

All the class actions and most of the individual lawsuits were filed after September.

The cases are combined as In re Toyota Motor Corp. Unintended Acceleration Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, 8:10-ml-02151, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana). The shareholder case is Stackhouse v. Toyota Motor Corp., 10-00922, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

--With assistance from Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles. Editor: Michael Hytha, Fred Strasser.

To contact the reporter on this story: Margaret Cronin Fisk in Southfield, Michigan, at mcfisk@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-08-02/toyota-knew-in-2003-of-acceleration-risk-suit-says.html
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 2010 11:59 am    Post subject: Toyota - Minnesota judge frees man convicted in acceleration Reply with quote

August 14, 2010

Minnesota judge frees man convicted in acceleration crash of Toyota

By Jim Kavanagh and Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

August 6, 2010 4:42 p.m. EDT

Toyota Camry Criminal Trials

Criminal Sentencing and Punishment

(CNN) -- A Minnesota man sent to prison after the deadly sudden-acceleration crash of his Toyota Camry has been freed by a judge, and the local prosecutor says he will not be retried.

Ramsey County, Minnesota, District Court Judge Joanne Smith on Thursday ordered Koua Fong Lee released from prison pending a new trial related to the 2006 crash that killed three people. Ramsey County Prosecutor Susan Gaertner immediately said she would drop the charges.

"Mr. Lee will be a free man," Gaertner said in a written statement.

Outside the courtroom after the ruling, Lee, 32, said he wanted his four children, one of whom was born after he was jailed, to know what "Daddy" means.

"It's a long time," he said with tears in his eyes. "They don't know me."

Lee had always maintained his innocence, saying the 1996 Camry accelerated uncontrollably before it crashed into two vehicles, killing a man and his 10-year-old son and a 6-year-old girl.

On Thursday, Lee asked the family to forgive him and believe his story.

In fact, the family of the victims had long ago become convinced of Lee's innocence and joined the effort to free him. They are suing Toyota.

"It's a bittersweet victory," Bridgette Trice, whose daughter died of injuries suffered in crash, told CNN affiliate KARE-TV on Thursday. "I'm happy for the Lee family, that they're getting their justice. We want answers, and they're coming slowly but they're coming surely."

Mae Adams, whose nephews died in the accident, told KARE, "Our day is yet to come. ... We couldn't let this man sit in jail, no matter how much we wanted to know what happened."

Lee was driving home from Sunday services with his pregnant wife, and father, daughter, brother and niece. He told investigators that he pumped the brakes as he exited Interstate 94 in St. Paul, Minnesota, and approached an intersection, said his new lawyer, Brent Schafer.

But Ramsey County prosecutors asserted at trial that Lee had his foot on the gas as he approached cars waiting at a red light. The car was moving at 70 to 90 mph when it struck the other vehicles.

Two mechanical engineers examined the car before trial on behalf of the state and the defense, Gaertner said earlier this year. Both concluded the brakes were operating and there were no problems with the acceleration, she said.

"Bottom line, two experts -- one for each side -- said there was nothing wrong with the car," she said.

A jury convicted Lee of criminal vehicular homicide in 2007, and he was sentenced to eight years in prison. But he continued to maintain his innocence.

"I know that lives were lost that day, but I did everything within my power to try to stop that vehicle," Lee said in a prison interview with KARE last spring. "I never intended for this to happen."

The 1996 Camry is not a part of Toyota's recall.

Lee's accident is among the first of a growing number of cases getting a second look since Toyota announced the recall, acknowledging that problems with sudden acceleration were more extensive than originally thought.

In testimony before Congress, company executives apologized for underestimating the problem.

Toyota recalled more than 8 million vehicles, prompting Schafer to seek a re-examination of the vehicle in the 2006 accident.

"This never seemed right. A man with his family in the car -- his pregnant wife -- goes on a suicide mission? Then, the recalls started, and the complaints sounded just like what happened to Mr. Lee," Schafer said in March. "It sounds just like a case of unintended acceleration."

In the end, though, the conviction was vacated not only because of evidence of mechanical failure, but also because Judge Smith determined Lee's original attorney, Tracy Eichhorn-Hicks, had failed to defend him adequately at trial.

Eichhorn-Hicks had stated in court that Lee must have had his foot on the accelerator, even though Lee himself always maintained that he had pumped the brake to no avail.

"Compelling evidence was produced at Mr. Lee's evidentiary hearing on the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel," prosecutor Gaertner's statement said.

"I wish Mr. Lee and his family the very best."

CNN's Ann O'Neill contributed to this report.
http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/08/06/toyota.recall.appeal/?hpt=T1
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:07 pm    Post subject: Stalling Problems Could Affect 1.2 Million Toyotas Reply with quote

August 23, 2010, 11:05 am

Stalling Problems Could Affect 1.2 Million Toyotas

By CHRISTOPHER JENSEN

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has intensified a safety investigation on 2005-7 Toyota Corollas and Matrixes. Above, a 2007 Corolla LE.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has intensified an investigation into stalling problems on almost 1.2 million Toyotas. The models are the 2005-7 Corolla and Matrix.

The safety agency began an investigation, called a preliminary evaluation, last November. After Toyota provided additional information, the agency decided the problem was serious enough to upgrade the investigation to an “engineering analysis.”

The agency said its concern is that “the engine can stall without warning at any speed and not restart.” It said it has 163 complaints from consumers.

In one of those complaints, the owner said the stalling almost caused an accident. “I was driving 60 m.p.h. on the freeway and was almost hit from behind. Another time I was turning left at an intersection and just made it through, but cars were honking and about to hit me.”

Toyota said it had reports of six accidents, but no injuries. The focus of the investigation is the engine control unit module, or E.C.U., the computer that controls the engine. The company said it did not consider the problem to pose “an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety.” But the automaker did note “we understand that some customers have been inconvenienced by engine E.C.U. failure and some have reported engine stalling.”

The safety agency also has many stalling complaints from owners of the Pontiac Vibe — a mechanical sibling of the Matrix — but the documents detailing the investigation do not mention the Vibe.

Toyota told the safety agency there were two possible causes of the problem. One is cracks forming on the soldered joints of the control module’s circuit boards. The other is a defect in the coating applied to the circuit boards.

In responses to questions posed by the agency, Toyota said it began investigating the problem in November 2005 and made an improvement to the control module starting in June 2007. It also issued four technical service bulletins to dealers telling them about the problem.

The agency said the module failures could lead to problems that include stalling, the failure of the engine to start or harsh shifting.

Some of the owners who filed complaints said the automaker refused to help them. “Dealer informed me there is a T.S.B. from Toyota and it is a known issue and common problem,” wrote one, referring to a technical service bulletin. “My car is out of the eight year or 80,000 mile warranty, so it would be around $1,000 to fix. Frustrated as this is a known issue which has seriously safety concerns and I have to pay $1,000 to fix their issue.”

Toyota told the agency it had approved 4,200 warranty claims involving the electronic control module. Brian Lyons, a Toyota spokesman, said the automaker was cooperating with the agency.

This is not the first time Toyota has had problems with its electronic control modules. In March 2006, Toyota sent dealers a technical service bulletin about a transmission problem in 2001-3 RAV4s. A malfunction of the module in those vehicles caused harsh shifting that could damage the transmission. Earlier this year, under pressure from the California Air Resources Board, the automaker offered a nationwide, extended warranty for the problem and said it would reimburse owners who had the repairs.

N.H.T.S.A. never investigated the RAV4 problem despite more than 300 complaints from owners, many of whom said they almost had accidents when their vehicles failed to accelerate as expected.

For more information or to file a safety complaint, go to the government Web site.

http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/23/stalling-problems-could-affect-1-2-million-toyotas/
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:09 pm    Post subject: Stalling Problems Could Affect 1.2 Million Toyotas Reply with quote

August 23, 2010, 11:05 am

Stalling Problems Could Affect 1.2 Million Toyotas

By CHRISTOPHER JENSEN

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has intensified a safety investigation on 2005-7 Toyota Corollas and Matrixes. Above, a 2007 Corolla LE.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has intensified an investigation into stalling problems on almost 1.2 million Toyotas. The models are the 2005-7 Corolla and Matrix.

The safety agency began an investigation, called a preliminary evaluation, last November. After Toyota provided additional information, the agency decided the problem was serious enough to upgrade the investigation to an “engineering analysis.”

The agency said its concern is that “the engine can stall without warning at any speed and not restart.” It said it has 163 complaints from consumers.

In one of those complaints, the owner said the stalling almost caused an accident. “I was driving 60 m.p.h. on the freeway and was almost hit from behind. Another time I was turning left at an intersection and just made it through, but cars were honking and about to hit me.”

Toyota said it had reports of six accidents, but no injuries. The focus of the investigation is the engine control unit module, or E.C.U., the computer that controls the engine. The company said it did not consider the problem to pose “an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety.” But the automaker did note “we understand that some customers have been inconvenienced by engine E.C.U. failure and some have reported engine stalling.”

The safety agency also has many stalling complaints from owners of the Pontiac Vibe — a mechanical sibling of the Matrix — but the documents detailing the investigation do not mention the Vibe.

Toyota told the safety agency there were two possible causes of the problem. One is cracks forming on the soldered joints of the control module’s circuit boards. The other is a defect in the coating applied to the circuit boards.

In responses to questions posed by the agency, Toyota said it began investigating the problem in November 2005 and made an improvement to the control module starting in June 2007. It also issued four technical service bulletins to dealers telling them about the problem.

The agency said the module failures could lead to problems that include stalling, the failure of the engine to start or harsh shifting.

Some of the owners who filed complaints said the automaker refused to help them. “Dealer informed me there is a T.S.B. from Toyota and it is a known issue and common problem,” wrote one, referring to a technical service bulletin. “My car is out of the eight year or 80,000 mile warranty, so it would be around $1,000 to fix. Frustrated as this is a known issue which has seriously safety concerns and I have to pay $1,000 to fix their issue.”

Toyota told the agency it had approved 4,200 warranty claims involving the electronic control module. Brian Lyons, a Toyota spokesman, said the automaker was cooperating with the agency.

This is not the first time Toyota has had problems with its electronic control modules. In March 2006, Toyota sent dealers a technical service bulletin about a transmission problem in 2001-3 RAV4s. A malfunction of the module in those vehicles caused harsh shifting that could damage the transmission. Earlier this year, under pressure from the California Air Resources Board, the automaker offered a nationwide, extended warranty for the problem and said it would reimburse owners who had the repairs.

N.H.T.S.A. never investigated the RAV4 problem despite more than 300 complaints from owners, many of whom said they almost had accidents when their vehicles failed to accelerate as expected.

For more information or to file a safety complaint, go to the government Web site.

http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/23/stalling-problems-could-affect-1-2-million-toyotas/
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