Friday, February 26, 2010

In Defense of Toyota

This is a little out of the ordinary for my blog posts, but I'm kind of worked up after an argument with my good friends, Trey and Jon. Our disagreement, i think (I kind of got confused about what we were arguing about after a while)was, and is, that I believe Toyota's actions were despicable and our government has every right--and even responsibility-- to hold the Japanese car manufacturer accountable, demand an apology, require a legitimate solution, and generally get pissed off at their incompetence and/or negligence; Jon and Trey's opinion (and forgive me if this is inaccurate, I generally have poor memory) is that the entire situation has been blown out of proportion by the media (which could be true), Toyota really didn't do anything wrong because there are always going to be malfunctions in mass produced products, that our government has no right stepping in, that--while tragic-- the amount of malfunctions has been "ridiculously small", and that Toyota acted exactly how any American car company would have acted (this I agree with wholeheartedly, but I still don't think it's okay).

Firstly, I'd like you to watch this video (it might be part of why I am so upset, and yes, I realize there are probably lots of other incidents, equally as tragic, that don't involve Toyota malfunctions, but this could have been avoided--the deaths of 39 human beings, who probably went through the same horror, could have been avoided:

So here is an overview of the situation:
  • Between 2000 and 2010, over 2,600 complaints"of sudden unintended acceleration" in Toyota vehicles were filed with the NHTSA (a government agency that is supposed to protect us from these kinds of things.)
  • March 2004, the government conducts one investigation of the problem and closes it a month later.
  • Between 2004 and 2009, four petitions are brought to the NHTSA by Toyota owners begging them to conduct more investigations; the requests are ignored.
  • Before any action is taken, 243 people are injured and 16 die (numbers from a Safety Research & Strategies study).
  • 2007, their solution is: recall floormats because they are bunching up under the accelerator. (Total bullshit that nearly everyone involved in the accidents denies. Internal memos reveal Toyota applauding their safety department for finding a way to "limit the recall" and "save the company 100 million or more".) (It's really, really disgusting.)
  • 2007-2010, a lot more people die or come close to dying:

In Portland, Oregon, Marianna Eisner's Lexus crashed into a truck after it shot out of control on the freeway in September. Said Eisner, "I did have a fleeting thought that this may be the day that I die."She said that prior to the incident, she had already heard about the floor mat problem and made a point of checking hers. "The mat was nowhere near the accelerator," said Eisner.

The driver of a Toyota Camry whose wife was killed when their vehicle went over a cliff in California said that even with his foot on the brake he could not stop his car.

"All of a sudden," said Bulent Ezal, "the car surged with force and I was thrown back to the seat."

Elizabeth James said her Toyota Prius suddenly shot up to 90 miles an hour when her foot was not on the gas pedal. "I'm absolutely certain that in my situation, it was not the floor mats," said James.

"A fatal accident near San Diego this August that took the lives of California Highway patrol officer Mark Saylor, his wife, daughter and brother-in-law drew attention to the problem of 'runaway Toyotas.' The Lexus they were driving, borrowed from a dealer, raced out of control at 100 miles an hour before hitting another vehicle, crashing into an embankment and bursting into flames. Right before the crash, Saylor's brother-in-law called 911 from the backseat of the vehicle and said urgently, "Our accelerator is stuck. We're in trouble…There's no brakes." "

--ABC News (here's a video of the b.s. floor mat excuse.)

  • 2009-2010, Toyota recalls 6.3 million cars, all recent models ( But over 70% of the malfunctions happened in car models they are not recalling; the reason they aren't recalling that 70%? Well, probably, because it would bankrupt them.)
The whole thing really disturbs me, and the more I read, the worse it gets. Apparently, the reason the NHTSA is so lax on regulating major auto companies, is that when they retire from the NHTSA, the auto companies hire them for lots and lots of money.

The other day, Rush Limbaugh (defender of corporations here, there, and on the moon) asked, "Does anyone doubt, ladies and gentlemen, that Toyota does a good job making safe affordable cars?"

I can think of a few.

1 comment:

  1. Toyota & Honda dropped the ball on handling the recalls , they should have came forward with a full disclosure. Instead of waiting for a huge media blitz and tons of public pressure. But Toyota & Honda are not alone , I never seen so many car companies having recalls all at the same time. I had no idea my car which is not even a Toyota or Honda, was affected until I searched on and found I had a bad Anti Lock control unit on my 2008 Pontiac G8 , So be careful