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Toyota to pay record $32.4 mil in extra fines to U.S. gov't

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This is simply to punish toyota for being in competition with U.S. car makers and is not justified.

None of these allegations about faulty vehicles were proven and it was just a sham to get U.S. consumers to buy domestic brands instead of the best brands.

After obama poured billions into his failed automakers the U.S. govt needed some leverage to make sure they got their money back from Govt Motors etc. This is just pretectionism in disguise and Japan bashing.

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Before Toyota’s recall crisis, the largest automaker fine was $1 million paid by General Motors in 2004 for a slow response to a recall of nearly 600,000 vehicles with faulty windshield wipers.

This last paragraph pretty much somes it all up!!

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Talk of the naive. Believe me any country will allow competition to it's domestic industries to a point. Japan allows limited competition but noone seems to care about that.

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a nice little fine to fill the government coffers.

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Have to agree with you guys. If it had been a U.S. company, the fine would have been much less. Wow! We will see if this precedent leads to bigger fines in the future.

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I'm going to have play the party-pooper here.

The fines are related to failing to notify the NTSB and otherwise generally dragging their feet or mounting ineffective responses to known safety issues. They may or may not have done this on purpose, but they were slow to react to the problem. It's no surprise the US government slapped them with a big fine after a highly publicized auto accident involving an entire family. The US government needed to show the American public that they took action against those who were responsible. Toyota executives could have anticipated this.

Protectionism in disguise and Japan bashing? Oh, please. If the US government wants to "punish" or "bash" Japan for competing with US auto makers they have many more effective tools at their disposal, and they've had literally decades to do it.

Anyway, if the Japanese want to find bashers or protectionists they not need look any further than their own shores. Plenty to go around on that island. Recall the US beef ban? Perhaps the US should respond in a similar fashion by banning all Japanese cars from the country until every one of them are individually certified as being free from these defects?

Toyota fumbled the response to these problems and they are paying the price. Nobody is forcing them to do business in the US: if they don't like that country's rules or agree with the way they are implemented, they can go elsewhere to sell their products. They can be thankful the US government hasn't taken a page out of the Japanese government playbook and imposed even more onerous safety certification requirements on them.

I'm sure Toyota will want to pay the fine and move on as quickly as possible -- messy, and very public, investigations and trials are bad PR.

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jamal2609: I agree with you. First off I don't think Toyota was entirely at fault for the problems and to a certain extent there were exagerations of some incidents. That said, Toyota's foot dragging and culture of secrecy/denial didn't serve them well and really hurt their image. They only have themselves to blame for that. This is from someone who owns a Lexus.

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But GM was only fined $1 million for the same footdragging. I think that is the point. Why such a disparity? Please read the article in full jamal2609.

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1mil or 32 mil are peanuts to car companies that net 10 billion a year when running well. The fine is embarrassing nothing more.

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@koriyamaboy

But GM was only fined $1 million for the same footdragging. I think that is the point. Why such a disparity? Please read the article in full jamal2609.

So how many accidents was caused by the faulty windshield wipers? And how many people died from the faulty windshield wipers?

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The entire sudden acceleration thing was completely blown out of proportion by the media just like the flu scare of last year.

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The entire sudden acceleration thing was completely blown out of proportion by the media

Lives were actually lost and others injured--blown out of proportion, and I witnessed the CEO crying like baby on national (international TV) when he addressed Toyota workers at a US factory.

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Apart from the fine, the private lawsuits will form the second episodes. Japanese has to adopt the western approach and fight justice out of the matter. Avoid lengthy court battles..no..got to face it. US knows the weakness of Japanese cultures and that is one reason why the Toyota Chairman was called to attend the case personally. That must be humiliating. Local top representation turned down. A top attorney will do the job well at far lesser the amount of fine. Now Toyota still can be fine by other aspects of the law. Worse still other Japanese auto maker can expect similar event popping up.

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Doesnt matter what you may say the whole world can see it for what it is, if it was a U.S. company the fine wouldn't have been anywhere near that amount.

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More Japan bashing as always, I am not a sheep and will not buy sodai gomi American cars because of the injustice done to Toyota by the US government.

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Just today hearing the excuse of car malfunction for the reason of some old chap in america for driving into a bank. Car malfunctions seems to be the new excuse for poor driving/human malfunction, but as in this case not strictly proven. Anyway all of this aside The "Japanese" cars still seem to be topping all the car polls.

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YuriOtani - despite your wishes, this was neither racism nor Japan bashing. In 2004, GM had a wiper problem. How many people had accidents? How many people died as a result??? I would bet less than with Toyota's brake problem...

If something like this should happen again in the U.S., the message is clear: don't drag your feet, disclose the problem immediately, and begin the recall - or the fine will be even bigger than this!

In reality, Toyota can afford to pay this fine, so it is a small inconvenience to them. The message in the amount is meant as a warning to other car makers to not repeat the same mistake.

Why is it that you always see racism where there is none?

Badge213 - you know this how? In this case, I will trust the media over your unsubstantiated opinion...

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yuriOtani@

I am not a sheep and will not buy sodai gomi American cars

And I will not buy "killer" Japanese cars. One man's trash is another man's treasure.

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So many naive fools. Other companies have paid very large fines when linked to danger. Toyota worsened their own problem with a huge cover up and got caught in the act. NOT THE FIRST TIME by the way. Do your research. Yuri the US government can't actually afford to have Toyota go down too much. Do you realize how many Americans count on Toyota for a living? Get real. Count how many foreign owned companies that are directly linked to thousands of jobs and the US GDP. This is a slap on the wrist to Toyota and a severe embarrassment at home but American consumers are still buying tons of Toyota vehicles albeit different models. Also I know exactly how the Japanese media made/makes the fines sound. So anti-Japanese. While back in the states hardly any consumer even pays attention and they are still buying their Camry's. Those of you not too familiar with what is happening stateside are just blowing smoke with this America vs. Japan crap. The Average American still thinks Japanese cars are better though there have always been staunch anti foreign car people because of their jobs. They have been buying fords lately not GM's. A lot if GM profit is now out of China. Get a life people it's a global economy.

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KevininHawaii at 08:38 PM JST - 21st Decembedespite your wishes, this was neither racism nor Japan bashing. In 2004, GM had a wiper problem. How many people had accidents? How many people died as a result??? I would bet less than with Toyota's brake problem... If something like this should happen again in the U.S., the message is clear: don't drag your feet, disclose the problem immediately, and begin the recall - or the fine will be even bigger than this!

"Message is clear, don't drag your feet"????? This is a joke. You need to look at history clearly. GM had over thousands fatalities related to GM trucks with side gas tank that were built in late 70's to 90's. GM executives dragged their feet for so long fighting the recall and result, thousands of Americans died. U.S. government decided not to recall until mid 90's. In Toyota's case, NHTSA investigated all aspects of sudden accelation problems and concluded that electronics were the a problem. NHTSA's LaHood told the American people that Toyota was unsafe to drive but came up with this conclusion a year later that there is no problem without facts to damage Toyota? Problem is that U.S. government is still the majority owner of competing company GM. This is a clear conflict of interest in any case. This investigation should've been handled by independent investigator that is not bias against Toyota.

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The Toyota sudden accelation issue was politically motivated when Toytoa over took GM as a biggest seller in the world. Ray La Hood, the NHTSA head told the American public to "stop driving your Toyota because they are dangerous" when he really didn't know the true facts. Was NHTSA and the U.S. govenment really trying to protect the American people? The fact finding conclusion of sudden accelation by NHTSA speaks for itself as bogus evidence. The U.S. goverment would never do the same to Ford with Pinto situation or GM with Silverado side mounted gas tank. This is truly a bias situation against Toyota.

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@sfjp330:

You're not honestly suggesting the peanuts they will get as a fine will make a dent in the losses the government will take on the auto bailout, are you? Are you familiar with the numbers involved here?

As KevininHawaii so amply pointed out, the fine is a political message. This is not an attempt to somehow recover the money lost on GM. Now that Toyota is the big boy on the block they can expect more of the same. That's what happens when you're the #1 auto maker.

Anyway, you can bet GM, Ford, and Chrysler do their best not to make these kinds of mistakes anymore. The loss of goodwill, the fines, the lawsuits -- these all put a big dent in the bottom line. That's why these makers have so many recalls. It's like a reflexive reaction to problems for them now. Toyota is going through some growing pains and they are bumping up against a system and a public that has lived with 3 notorious car makers for decades.

@YuriOtani:

I am not a sheep and will not buy sodai gomi American cars because of the injustice done to Toyota by the US government.

I'm certain you would never buy an American car regardless, Yuri.

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jamal2609 at 09:46 AM JST - 22nd December. Anyway, you can bet GM, Ford, and Chrysler do their best not to make these kinds of mistakes anymore.

Oh yeh,they are doing the best to screw their former workers. GM and the U.S. Govenment took away $920 million a year in pension for workers that dedicated their life to GM. If you look at compact and intermediate cars such as Colbat and Malibu produced by GM, they are marginally a good product. Colbat is a piece of junk. Tell me the resale value of these GM cars compare to Corolla or Camry after five years. GM is making the same mistake of depending on their profit from large SUV's and Trucks. Volt at $40K? This is going to be a joke. Are you saying they are doing the best and this is the best GM can do? Chysler is another fragile story. Only company that has plan intact is Ford. Ford is a good product.

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@sfjp330:

Maybe I wasn't clear about the point I was making. When I said GM, Ford, and Chrysler do their best not to make these kinds of mistakes, I was referring to the mistakes that Toyota made in response to the safety issues they were fined for, not the strategic missteps and corporate structural failures of the last 4 decades. The failures of the US automakers are well documented, and I am not attempting to rationalize them.

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jamal2609 at 11:14 AM JST - 22nd DecemberI was referring to the mistakes that Toyota made in response to the safety issues they were fined for

Toyota was falsely accused. Problem is that a separate investigation by the Transportation Department and NASA has not uncovered any electronic problems. Toyota was accused by the U.S. Goverment and fined $32 million for delay in recall in which Toyota did not need recall. Maybe Toyota engineers were trying to figure out what the problem was and they did not know the solution because there wasn't any. What is the recall for and how are they going to solve the problem of no problem? If U.S. goverment and the NHTSA demanded a recall of Toyota, they should've been specific as to what is the problem but they did not know either because they didn't know.

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@sfjp330:

From the article:

The latest fines involve two separate safety problems affecting certain Toyota passenger cars and trucks.

The first case deals with recalls in 2009 and 2010 of about 5 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles with gas pedals that could become entrapped in floor mats. Toyota had recalled 55,000 all-weather floor mats in 2007 to address pedal entrapment, but the government said its investigation found that simply removing the floor mats was insufficient.

And why might simply removing the floor mats be insufficient? From Toyota's own FAQ about sticky gas pedals:

What is the problem that could cause accelerators to stick and led to the recall? The issue involves a friction device in the pedal designed to provide the proper “feel” by adding resistance and making the pedal steady and stable. This friction device includes a “shoe” that rubs against an adjoining surface during normal pedal operation. Due to the materials used, wear and environmental conditions, these surfaces may, over time, begin to stick and release instead of operating smoothly. In some cases, friction could increase to a point that the pedal is slow to return to the idle position or, in rare cases, the pedal sticks, leaving the throttle partially open.

So, are you suggesting that Toyota is wrong and that simply removing the floor mats is sufficient? If so, why? Toyota seems to imply that simply removing the floor mat won't fix the friction device inside the gas pedal. Oh, and:

In the second case, Toyota conducted a recall in 2004 of Hilux trucks in Japan with steering relay rods that could break and affect steering. Toyota told U.S. regulators in 2004 that the safety problem was limited to vehicles in Japan and the company had not received similar complaints in the U.S.

But a year later, Toyota told NHTSA the steering defect was also found in several U.S. models and recalled nearly 1 million vehicles. NHTSA said in May 2010 it learned about complaints from U.S. consumers that Toyota failed to disclose to the government when it conducted the recall in Japan in 2004.

Is your claim that Toyota did not give false information to regulators, or that the steering defect did not exist? Or, is the NHTSA simply lying when it says it learned from consumers that Toyota failed to disclose the recall in Japan?

These are all reasons for the fines. It has nothing to do with electrical problems. And by the way, the US government can demand a recall for safety reasons if they have reason to believe a product is unsafe.

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@jamal2609

You pointed out samples of recalls but you do not understand the true magnitute of the the problem. How true were these accusations and out of over 10 million Toyota vechiles that were on the road, how many had serious injuries or have died from this problem? On sudden acceleration problem, there were less than 100 cases of having this problem? And out of 100 cases, how many cases were thrown out from the courts? Majority? Sounds more and more like drivers error. The facts are that actual percentage of problem of Toyota cars were few. Why don't you compare with number Ford vehicles around 15 million that were recalled in the last ten years and see who has more. If you think fines were safety reasons, where were the U.S. goverment in Ford Explorer rollover cases and Chevrolet truck side tank with 1700 casulties? GM got off lightly don't you think?

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jamal2609 at 01:15 PM JST - 22nd December Is your claim that Toyota did not give false information to regulators, or that the steering defect did not exist? Or, is the NHTSA simply lying when it says it learned from consumers that Toyota failed to disclose the recall in Japan?

You live in a dream world. Do you really know what Toyota failed to do other than what you read? Do you think Toyota is the only company that did this? And U.S.goverment is trying to protect consumers? Heck no. Toyota behavior is no different from any other company in a corporate behavior.

GM has issued a recall for 1.3 million Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac vehicles sold in the U.S., Canada and Mexico after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into more than 1,000 consumer complaints of the power steering suddenly ceasing to work on some vehicles. Among the reports of steering problems linked to vehicles were at least 14 car crashes.

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@sfjp330:

You pointed out samples of recalls but you do not understand the true magnitute of the the problem.

No, I didn't point out examples of recalls, I identified the specific recalls that resulted in the fines that are the subject of this article. I understand the magnitude of the problem just fine, thank you very much. I also understand the difference between being fined for violating a law and being sued in civil or criminal court for damages or negligence.

It doesn't matter if every car on the road is a Toyota and only 3 of them have a problem. The government has specific rules companies are required to follow in the event of a safety-related incident. If the company doesn't follow the rules, they are fined. The more egregious they are in flaunting the rules, the bigger the fine. This is completely separate from civil or criminal legislation arising from the incident.

GM, Ford, and Chrysler have had plenty of practice in responding to safety incidents. As you pointed out, these manufacturers have had lots of problems in the past. They are quick to issue a recall when they are in doubt about a safety issue precisely because they don't want to be fined or found criminally negligent. They know what investigators and regulators are looking for and can respond quickly and effectively to government inquiries. All those problems you talk about from the past were learning experiences for them.

In other words, they are pros at screwing up.

Keep in mind, in those US manufacturer safety incidents you cited, their liabilities were not limited to fines. There was a whole slew of civil litigation to get through. That's because although they may have done a decent job following the government's procedures concerning responding to the incident, they are still very much liable for the damage they cause.

If you think fines were safety reasons, where were the U.S. goverment in Ford Explorer rollover cases and Chevrolet truck side tank with 1700 casulties? GM got off lightly don't you think?

Yes, I do think the fines were for safety reasons. Once you differentiate between being fined for not following the rules and civil/criminal liabilities, the difference between the way Toyota is being treated and the way GM, Ford, and Chrysler are being treated is understandable.

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jamal2609 at 02:23 PM JST - 22nd DecemberThe government has specific rules companies are required to follow in the event of a safety-related incident. If the company doesn't follow the rules, they are fined.

Now, the U.S. government, which controls GM, are publicly castigating Toyota in an attempt to smear the company and increase their own profitability. As a direct competitor with Toyota by way of involvement with GM, the assault against Toyota represents one of the most public conflicts of interests the business world has experienced.

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.jamal2609 at 02:23 PM JST - 22nd December Once you differentiate between being fined for not following the rules and civil/criminal liabilities,, the difference between the way Toyota is being treated and the way GM, Ford, and Chrysler are being treated is understandable.

Double standard in how Toyota is being treated? If this is the case, regarding the GM trucks that killed over 1700 people over 20 year period, when do you differentiate between fines from criminal liablities? In a congressional hearing, In the early 1990's, these GM executives said the trucks were safe even after 1700 Americans were killed. GM put profits over lives. Give me a reason why GM was not responsible for criminal liabilities.

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@sfjp330:

You live in a dream world.

I know exactly what you mean. That would explain a LOT!

Do you really know what Toyota failed to do other than what you read?

That's a good point. I don't work for Toyota so I have no idea what kind of information they hid behind closed doors. They were pretty secretive about the whole thing, though. That didn't help their case.

Double standard in how Toyota is being treated?

I'm sure the company is very familiar with double standards.

I think there is still some confusion here concerning the difference between being fined for violating government rules and regulations regarding the handling of safety incidents and the civil or criminal liabilities arising from negligence in product design, safety, etc. These are different issues.

It's worth taking some time to consider because it will help explain why it seems there is a double standard.

The government is fining them for egregious violations of rules and regulations. I'm not sure I can make it any clearer. The fines are levied whether or not anyone died. Toyota neglected their responsibilities as an auto manufacturer in the US, and they are paying for it. GM, Ford, and Chrysler would be treated the same way if they violated the same rules in the manner Toyota did. Please read my post above about them being professional screw ups.

You keep bringing up how many people died in the last 20 years, but that has nothing to do with the fines levied on Toyota.

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sfjp330 - governments, like people, typically do not always act the same. Especially over time, with experience, we expect reactions to evolve and mature.

Recently, the U.S. gov. let Lehman Bros. go bankrupt, but then rescued all the other big banks. At the moment Lehman needed help, the government's position (when facing the closing of ONE investment house) and reaction was very different than soon after, when it was facing an industry wide collapse.

so too has the handling of recalls matured in the U.S. - the rules are: 1. don't lie (and especially don't get caught lying).

don't appear to be stalling. don't wait for the government to issue the recall.

Maybe Toyota is not familiar with screwing up on this scale, so they were not prepared. But they did, it is a fact, and now they can make improvements and move on. What happened 10, 20, or even 30 years ago is irrelevant - maybe the gov. was too lenient decades ago, but that was then, and this is now.

The U.S. government has bent over backwards to give Japanese companies access to the U.S. market. Meanwhile, Japan has not given the U.S. similar access to Japan's market. If the U.S. gov. wanted to protect its market, there are countless things it could do, which would actually work.... this is a fine. See it for what it is.

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.KevininHawaii at 08:33 PM JST - 22nd December If the U.S. gov. wanted to protect its market, there are countless things it could do, which would actually work....

And put another few million U.S. workers out into unemployment line? Sure, this will solve the problem.

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jamal2609 at 05:28 PM JST - 22nd December I think there is still some confusion here concerning the difference between being fined for violating government rules and regulations regarding the handling of safety incidents and the civil or criminal liabilities arising from negligence in product design, safety, etc. These are different issues.

If you think Toyota's behavior is different and enthical from GM, Ford or Chysler, think again. They behave the same in a corporate structure. Not better or worse. Where have you been?

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I mentioned about double standards and conflict of interest since U.S. govenment owns majority of the shares for GM and they are judging the competitor and you have head of NHTSA making a public statement that Toyota is unsafe to drive and do not drive. Was this a proper thing to do for top govenment officials to scare the hell out of public without facts? Was Toyota that dangerous to make a public speech? Would LaHood do the same to Ford and GM in a same instances?

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