Archive for Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Toyota misled public about problems, Congress members say

February 23, 2010

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— Congress members on Monday accused Toyota officials of making misleading public statements about the causes of its runaway cars and faulted federal safety regulators for conducting “cursory and ineffective” investigations because of a crippling lack of expertise.

The charges from House members amplify the unprecedented scrutiny focused on the beleaguered automaker and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In addition to three congressional committees, which are holding hearings beginning today, a federal grand jury has subpoenaed company documents relating to unintended acceleration, and so has the Securities and Exchange Commission, Toyota announced Monday.

The allegations Monday from Energy and Commerce Committee members frame what is expected to be one of the key questions before lawmakers, as well as consumers: Has Toyota really made its cars safe by recalling interfering floor mats and sticky pedals, as it has said repeatedly, or does the cause of the unintended acceleration episodes go deeper into engine electronics?

Congressional investigators, along with safety advocates, victims’ families and trial lawyers, are skeptical of Toyota’s explanations. They think there is a problem in the electronic throttle systems.

The letters Monday from Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., to James Lentz III, president of Toyota Motor Sales USA, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood accused Toyota and federal safety regulators of overlooking evidence as far back as 2004 that the automaker’s engine electronics had defects that could be causing unintended acceleration.

In June 2004, the automaker and NHTSA officials discussed a chart showing that Toyota Camrys with new electronic throttles had 400 percent more complaints regarding “vehicle speed.”

Moreover, according to investigators, Toyota could have seen from its database of consumer calls that floor mats and sticky pedals didn’t explain all the reports of unintended acceleration. Approximately 70 percent of the sudden unintended acceleration events in Toyota’s customer database involved vehicles that are not subject to recalls.

“Yet despite these warnings, Toyota appears to have conducted no systematic investigation into whether electronic defects could lead to sudden unintended acceleration,” the Waxman and Stupak letter to Lentz said.

The investigators also noted that in a Feb. 5 letter, a Toyota attorney reported to the committee that the causes of sudden unintended acceleration are “multiple” and “hard to identify.”

Comments

Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

The american arm of Toyota probably needs to monitored more closely by Japan cuz USA car executives are accustomed to dealing with problems in this fashion. It has happened plenty among the big 3. Remember Ford SUV's were showing big time roll over problems yet it was like pulling teeth to get them to acknowledge it was THEIR problem. GMC and Chrysler Corp have the same basic history.

If I were Toyota I would replace USA executives with people from Japan and take over quality control.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 3 months ago

The feds have to protect their investment in Government Motors by attacking the competition. I

Stuart Evans 5 years, 3 months ago

I just won't feel the same about Toyota until I see some seppuku. get with it Mr. Toyoda, you've disgraced you're entire family.

Stuart Evans 5 years, 3 months ago

now I've disgraced mine... your (not you're). so sorry.

puddleglum 5 years, 3 months ago

you go areunorml!

that's what you traitors get for buying japanese!

if you would have bought american cars, you probably wouldn't be getting as good as mileage. well, that didn't come out right.

I say, invest in the past. older american cars are the bomb. they last forever, look cool, and do your laundry for you. who wouldn't want a marathon checker?

headdoctor 5 years, 3 months ago

The Feds can yap all they want about Toyota. Shall we dredge up the files on American car makers and their very long list of screw you consumers. I will still not give a dime to the American car companies. The American car companies have had decades to do it right and only Ford has even made any attempt to think outside the box.

Melissa Sigler 5 years, 3 months ago

hmmmm I was looking for a Toyota, maybe their prices will go down.

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