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LaHood says Toyota is 'safety deaf'

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So um the American government which owns Toyota's competitors is not fining Toyota the largest amount of money in the history of American business fines? hmmmmmm

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It's heartening to see NHTSA opening probe after probe and staying on Toyota's case, but the speed and number of investigations make you wonder even more where the agency has been all these years.

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The NHTSA has nothing else to do except be on Toyota case otherwise the consumers would be on NHTSA case for their failure to nip this in the but a long time ago. The NHTSA role is to held automakers accountable and the agency failed to do their job. The NHTSA is covering their but. It's better to put attention on Toyota then have it on NHTSA.

LaHood says Toyota is 'safety deaf'

There are better choices of words to describe Toyota for their lack of response to the sudden acceleration. Words are powerful in how they are used to influence the readers.

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I agree with LaHood that there may be more uncovered, but I think a public official saying this is irresponsible.

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Debucho

Agree.

NHTSA said documents provided by Toyota showed the automaker had known about the sticky pedal defect since at least Sept 29, 2009, when it issued repair procedures to distributors in 31 European countries and Canada to address complaints of sticking pedals, sudden increases in engine RPM and sudden vehicle acceleration.

So why were they slow in the US and not Europe? Litigation concerns? Anyway, this implies failure to act but not deafness.

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Consumer groups have suggested electronics could be the culprit, and dozens of Toyota owners who had their cars fixed in the recall have complained of more problems with their vehicles surging forward unexpectedly. Toyota says it has found no evidence of an electrical problem.

Jumping on a bandwagon more likely. Put up the proof or be quiet. This should be easy to prove if there is a fault.

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...but I think a public official saying this is irresponsible

I agree. He's decided to take part in the public flogging, I think. In his position it would be better to wait for the facts about any other problems.

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Its called grandstanding, calling attention to oneself based on perceived facts or flimsy evidence. I think Toyota will manage this problem and emerge as a better company.

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I disagree. LaHood is a public servant, who, unlike his Japanese counterparts at the Transportation Ministry, actually takes his role of protecting the public seriously. Toyota has launched a massive PR and ad campiagn to convince everyone they build safe cars. It is perfectly fair for him to state the facts -- Toyota sat on the recall and violated U.S. law in the process. And, if you think his "deaf" wording is too severe, then you clearly know nothing about Toyota's corporate culture. Or are you forgetting that the Transportation Department came to Tokyo last December to raise this issue with Toyota, and Toyota still did nothing?

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It is perfectly fair for him to state the facts

Saying you "think more things will come out" is not stating facts. It is assuming. I fully agree Toyota is guilty as sin and more will come out, but as a public official you have to base your statements on facts. Otherwise it is propaganda and you look like a corrupt Chinese govt official trying to scare its own people.

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In many of the cases, we don't really know what happened, because there were no witnesses of exactly when the car started to run away. In fact, it's a little hard to be sure that some of the cases were sudden acceleration incidents, because the witnesses to what happened in the car were all killed. The family is trying to reconstruct what happened from their knowledge of the deceased. Obviously, most people are going to err on the side of believing that the car was at fault, rather than a beloved relative.

The oddest "striking" fact is that a disproportionate number seem to be immigrants, something like a third, which is about double the number of immigrants in the general population. I have no idea what to make of that; are they more likely to file complaints with the NHTSA? Maybe they're shorter, on average, or learned to drive later in life? Or perhaps it's just a statistical fluke.

Unfortunately, that won't help Toyota much. It will still face a wave of lawsuits, and all the negative publicity means that it may be hard for the company to get a fair trial. Even if it does, the verdict in the court of public opinion will still hurt their sales for some time to come.

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Debucho -- why are you so upset at a government official stating the obvious, as opposed to hiding behind a bunch of platitudes? You've lived in Japan too long. If Toyota had gotten ahead of this problem, instead of hoping it would go away, like it almost certainly would have here, we wouldn't even be discussing LaHood. They gave him the smoking gun.

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I don't understand why one would defend Toyota. They are just as crooked or not as crooked as any other car manufacturer, although on a personal level, you usually are being screwed by the dealer. Anyway, you have to ask yourself why Toyota has for years employed a couple of former NHTSA employees, who reportedly have successfully fended of impending recalls, saving Toyota a lot of money initially, but which could have saved lives. Now, one could blame these former NHTSA employees for misleading their former employer, but why would Toyota hire these people in the first place? No other car manufacturer seems to be engaged in this practice. Here is an interesting article about it:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=atXvi2msqPOM

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-- why are you so upset at a government official stating the obvious

because government officials should not be wreckless about assuming things and making public statements. Don't get me wrong, I think they should throw the book at Toyota for covering up and risking lives, but this statement by LaHood that he thinks more things will come out is irresponsible for a high ranking government official.

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I say lay it on them. They would do the same, probably worse if the situation were reversed. The government and these "safety" officials here would grandstand and jump to all types of conclusions.

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Let us not forget that this very kind of propoganda and inuendo by American officials is what lead to the start of the invasion of Iraq. I am American so I can say with confidence we like a show and tend to forget the details behind the show.

LaHood should wait for the findings before speculating on them. That is the duty of responsible high-ranking officials.

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I disagree. LaHood is a public servant, who, unlike his Japanese counterparts at the Transportation Ministry, actually takes his role of protecting the public seriously.

Ha! Don't kid yourself.

The real irony is that Obama's General Motors managed to dodge liability for thousands of personal injury and wrongful death cases by the way it went through bankruptcy last year. Anyone who had a claim against GM prior to June of last year is now stuck trying to sue the bankrupt shell company that sold the profitable parts of GM to the government.

If you or a family member was crippled due to a design or manufacturing error by GM, you effectively can't sue with the expectation of getting any money. So don't mistake the Obama administration's concerns regarding Toyota as anything more than the crocodile tears of posturing union thugs. If they cared about the consumers, the lawsuits would have followed the part of GM the government now owns and the victims would have a fair chance in court.

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Looks like the 'Amakudari' system and behaviour has been exported to the US, with these ex-NHTSA staffers now at Toyota. Everyone else seems to use professional lobbyists, the "Beltway Bandits."

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Debucho: You are right on the money. I think LaHood is correct but shouldn't be making these kind of statements publicly.

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Bebert61: GM is being sued by the union for retiree healthcare money they're owed too and GM says "that was the old GM". When a company goes bankrupt and is nationalized there is very little recourse. That said the piling on Toyota thing is just posturing you are correct.

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usaexpat; "Debucho: You are right on the money. I think LaHood is correct but shouldn't be making these kind of statements publicly."

Nope- I think you are both wrong ! I think LaHood has the "goods" on Toyota and is giving them a way out ! Toyota can pay their fine and accept the guilt and responsibility that goes along with it, allowing them to eventually get back to making cars- thats after the public lawsuits are done with of course. Or- Toyota can fight this and LaHood can drag one dirty little piece of scandalous info out month by month until Toyotas name and reputation are destroyed ! I can see the Toyota legal team working this "offer" right now- and believe you me, they will take it ! 16 million is peanuts at this stage- the real blow will come when the litigation from the public begins- but at least the US government should be satisfied with this public flogging. Sorry, but some of you apologists out there don't seem to get it yet- This is a case of "lose the battle win the war" for Toyota. If they're smart, they'll jump all over this petty fine and prepare for the next onslaught- the class action lawsuits !

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Debucho. Wait for what findings? Americans got the ex-brother-in-law treatment from Toyota. How does it feel to be behind Kazakstan, Turkey, Georgia... in the recall? La Hood should be ashamed for going lightly on these criminals from Nagoya.

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Well, here we go- yesterday I wrote;

"Toyota can fight this and LaHood can drag one dirty little piece of scandalous info out month by month until Toyotas name and reputation are destroyed."

And right on cue- hot off the presses of The Wall Street Journal;

"Toyota Motor Corp. executives debated in January the proper time to go public with mechanical problems in certain models, with one executive declaring in a Jan. 16 email, "the time to hide on this one is over," according to internal company documents viewed Wednesday.

The email was sent days before Toyota issued the last of a string of recalls covering more than eight million cars globally for reports of sudden acceleration."

Yep- pure admission of guilt as Toyota execs are busted trying to "hide" their defects from the US government and the American people. Shameful behaviour from a company that has literally lived off the support and financial backing of US citizens ! To purposely put them in harms way with defective products simply for the sake of profits and market share is deplorable ! I want to know what else is in those 7,000 documents ! I want to know if Toyota's "Book of knowledge" is included- it is said that within this electronic document holds all the real dirt on Toyota. The hidden defects, the design flaws, the cover-ups, the pay offs and kickbacks- the real meat to go with this potato !

The fallout so far from this small piece of info has been minimal- Toyota stock has only fallen below the $80 mark, back to 2005 levels. LaHood has it within his power to completely crush Toyota- the ball is now in their court. I'm willing to bet Toyota will now quickly make an announcement about it's intentions to accept this measly fine... then wait for the class action suits to begin ! Batten down the hatches- yer in for a wild one !

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Branded at 12:22 AM JST - 9th AprilAnd right on cue- hot off the presses of The Wall Street Journal; "Toyota Motor Corp. executives debated in January the proper time to go public with mechanical problems in certain models, with one executive declaring in a Jan. 16 email, "the time to hide on this one is over," according to internal company documents viewed Wednesday.

HUMMM????? Your so far off base. Executive name Miller is a ex-employee of Toyota. He announced his retirement in December 16, 2009. Since he was let go, why would he make e-mail announcement in January 16, 2010 to say "time to hide on this one is over"? other than to hurt their business. He was not in a capacity to make or recommend any decisions. Didn't you know? I guess not.

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Branded at 12:22 AM JST - 9th April. LaHood has it within his power to completely crush Toyota

Are you dreaming? Why don't he do it and lay off thousands of American workers. Then what happens? Alot of American families cannot pay their bills and you will be happy that they are let go from Toyota factory?

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When uninformed or out of the loop - don't debate. This problem has been affecting Japanese brands for ten years now. At Mazda we identified the exact cause in December 2005 and did a mass recall in Venezuela. Not a single recall was done in the US. ANd Ford knew about the problem back then. They still do. The part maker is a Japanese company and is the only supplier to the industry. There is no US maker of the part. Infact there is no US expert in the field. Not even at NASA - the technology is also used by Airbus. It is super dangerous because it was never perfected by the maker. I have done loads of jobs for the part maker - and all the jobs clearly indicated Toyota had a huge problem with suddenly accelerating vehicles worldwide. I've been saying for some time if somebody offered me the right price I'll sing like a canery. And my apologese to sjfp330 and a few others for being mean to them. I was mean in that I knew that you weren't aware of what the actual technology flaw is attributed to. This is my final post on the subject.

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unscrejects at 10:44 PM JST - 16th March. sudden unintended typos eh? Explain? I can in explain it in one of two ways - the other I cannot unless paid for it. The one that I can tell you is that the vehicle took control of itself. How it did that is my secret. When uninformed or out of the loop - don't debate.

I think you are out of loop. Are you in the same planet?

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sfjp330;

"HUMMM????? Your so far off base. Executive name Miller is a ex-employee of Toyota. He announced his retirement in December 16, 2009. Since he was let go, why would he make e-mail announcement in January 16, 2010 to say "time to hide on this one is over"? other than to hurt their business. He was not in a capacity to make or recommend any decisions. Didn't you know? I guess not."

-"So far off base" ?

-Miller "was not in a capacity to make or recommend any decisions"

-"Didn't you know" ?

I obviously now a whole lot more than you think as the most recent story here at Japantoday clearly states;

"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."

February 1 ? The guy didn't officialy retire till the first of February ? Nahhh- say it aint so ! I don't believe his e-mails were intended to hurt the company as much as you insinuate- I believe it was more out of self preservation than anything else. This guy obviously feared the "whistleblower" route- yet still wanted to distance himself from any direct responsibility- clever move, very clever ! He could be the only one coming out of this smelling like a rose.

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unscrejects;

-"This problem has been affecting Japanese brands for ten years now. At Mazda we identified the exact cause in December 2005 and did a mass recall in Venezuela."

-"The part maker is a Japanese company and is the only supplier to the industry."

-"Infact there is no US expert in the field. Not even at NASA - the technology is also used by Airbus."

-"It is super dangerous because it was never perfected by the maker."

-"I have done loads of jobs for the part maker - and all the jobs clearly indicated Toyota had a huge problem with suddenly accelerating vehicles worldwide."

-"I've been saying for some time if somebody offered me the right price I'll sing like a canery."

If any of this is true I would simply contact any of the dozens of legal firms handling this case in the USA- they are all on the net ! I'm sure they would love to sit down with you and talk about what you know- Your inside information and direct knowledge of the problem could be "extremely valuable"- provided someone else hasn't already beaten you to the punch- good luck !

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Branded at 12:58 AM JST - 10th Apri. I obviously now a whole lot more than you think as the most recent story here at Japantoday clearly states; "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." February 1 ? The guy didn't officialy retire till the first of February ?

So what? If you understand corporate behavior which you obviously don't know. If you announce a retirement, the reality is December 16, 2009 is a effective date in which you are not responsible for any decision or recommendation. Mr. Miller is a disgruntled employee of Toyota. He was not retiring but fired for performance or other problems. This is how corporate works. You're lost.

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The problem is that Toyota company property of confidential e-mail was leaked from disgruntled Irv Miller, ex-Toyota’s top U.S. public relations executive led to the brand being further tarnished. There will always be communications meant for internal use that if read by the outside world could tarnish its brand, especially if it is a public company. Most of this information appears in unstructured format and must be protected once communicated to all the right channels. I hope all businesses will learn from Toyota’s mistakes and put in place a strategy on how to manage and secure all confidential internal communications. Irv Miller wanted to intentionally damage Toyota by releasing company property confidential e-mail. Another Sikes.

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