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Engine failures in MR2 Spyders

6/11/2014 - Updated the original post by entering direct links to reference material, and added remarks about the legal issues involved with...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bloomberg removes my comments re GT 86

Toyota just can't stand the truth. Now that some of the Recall King's lousy products and obscene attitudes toward customers has been exposed, there's an air of desperation as this sorry excuse for a business seeks to recapture those good ol' days when consumers were less wary of the brand. And mainstream media, from industry giants to those less notable, are rushing to Toyota's aid. Coverup is the name. Censorship is the game.

Things are really heatin' up now that Toyota has partnered with Subaru in an effort to produce another sports car. The last thing Toyota needs is publicity about all those MR2 Spyder engines that suddenly disintegrated and Toyota's determination to stonewall the matter hoping it would eventually go away. So what if customers lost - and continue to lose - thousands of dollars on engine replacements? So what if the things fall apart at speed in heavy traffic? "So what?" says the Recall King. We got a new effort goin' now. A new model we've been callin' the FT-86 which we're now callin' the GT 86 (Scion FR-S). Definitely the time to keep it quiet about all those engine failures in MR2 Spyders.

Just think of the embarrassment it would be if Toyota had to recall a whole slew of MR2 Spyders just when they're tryin' to introduce another sports car. Not to worry. Its mainstream media to the rescue. To begin with, I noticed a flurry of "articles" singin' the praises of the GT 86 (formerly FT-86) but no comments were permitted. One of those "articles" came via Bloomberg, and I sent an e-mail to the reporter and the editor expressing my displeasure. Then I noticed the same article had also appeared in Bloomberg's BusinessWeek section, comments were allowed, and a comment I submitted had been published. So I fired off apologies. But alas. I spoke too soon. Wouldn't ya know it? My comment was removed, and a second entry was also removed.

Apologies to Bloomberg retracted, but here's the deal. I really hit a nerve when I started commenting about the GT 86 and referencing engines disintegrating in MR2 Spyders. After a mere handful of auto news websites published my comments, visits to this blog literally soared, topping 85 hits almost immediately. That's the deal, and here's the question: Instead of censoring comments, why haven't mainstream media giants such as Bloomberg - not to mention Consumer Reports - exposed all those engine failures in MR2 Spyders?

Its time for Recall King Toyota and their cohorts in mainstream media to clean up their act.

Update 11/28/2011 - Facebook has blocked a link to this post from appearing in real-time Public Posts, and apparently Facebook is also playin' games with the excerpt from the article that ordinarily appears when links to articles are posted on one's page. The excerpt section was inoperable for this blog post, but still appeared for an article I drafted linking to another media source. Note also that real-time Public Posts on Facebook are searchable via other venues such as Openbook and Bing, so Facebook's censorship tactics in this regard are more sinister than one might think. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wired for censorship

Here we go again. As visits to this blog approach the 10,000 mark (probably closer to 13,000 if you include visits before the counter was installed), there seems to be an increase in efforts to censor comments I submit on articles regarding Toyota.

The latest instance bears an eerie resemblance to the censorship by Reuters. Last week, I read an article published by an outfit called Wired.com and decided to comment on Toyota's absurd marketing program whereby a woman was literally terrorized and has now won a court decision allowing her lawsuit to go forward. As with Reuters, I initially had difficulty logging in, even if I tried to do so using my Facebook or other accounts. After requesting password assistance, I finally got logged in, submitted my comment, and got the "comment subject to moderation" message. The comment was blocked, and submitted a second time with the same result.

So I e-mailed a complaint titled "Censorship re 9/12/11 Toyota cyberstalking article" to Kim Zetter, the person who wrote the article, stating "My comment was blocked, and I find this totally inexcusable, especially after reviewing some of the comments that were approved. If moderators are going to block comments, they should start with those that contain four letter filth and various other forms of offensive language." Interestingly enough, Zetter is billed as a "senior reporter at Wired covering cybercrime, privacy, security, and civil liberties." Emphasis most certainly mine.

Apparently, Zetter either didn't get the message, was too busy to reply, or agrees with the decision not to publish my comment. Whatever. At this time, still no replies.

Beware of Wired. They're the kinda folks who apparently don't see anything objectionable about anonymous commentary spouting four letter filth and insults, but are willing to block comments stated in a businesslike manner, devoid of obscenities, and accompanied by the writer's real name. Blatant, inexcusable censorship has become business as usual in America. And that's a real shame.

Update 9/20/2011 - I dropped wired.com a link to this post via another comment, and of course I got the "subject to moderation" notice. No problem this time. I think they'll get the message.
Update 9/20/2011 - Facebook has censored this post from Posts to Public. Glad I got it out on Twitter.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Reuters, closed session summits, and Toyota

If there's any so-called news organization I'd hate to have to depend on for facts, it would be Reuters.  So it caught my eye when I read that Reuters was sponsoring a "Rebuilding Japan Summit," featuring "closed door on-the-record sessions."  My interest was further piqued when I read Reuters' summit report publicizing comments by Toyota Executive Vice President Yukitoshi Funo.  The report offered a rosey assessment of the company, omitting items such as recalls totalling 14 million units, record setting government fines for delays in reporting defects, a federal grand jury investigation, and a zillion lawsuits alleging coverup.  Is this kind of "summit" genuine journalism?  Or a cleverly contrived form of censorship? 

Lately it seems there's been a sudden surge in mainstream media articles intent on ignoring facts and portraying the Recall King as some sort of innocent bystander.  Meanwhile, the Toyota defect parade marches on with numerous recent recalls and the punishment of an engineer-turned-whistleblower in Vietnam.  Guess I musta missed Reuters' "coverage" of the situation in Vietnam. 

What Toyota, Japan, and the good ol' U.S.A. needs is something along the line of a "Toyota Engine Failure Summit" featuring reps from MR2 clubs along with past and present Spyder owners who lost thousands when their engines suddenly fell apart.  Anyone who signed the ongoing oil sludge petition would also be invited to tell their stories regarding Toyota's "class action settlement." Bigwigs from Toyota, a few select congressmen, and representatives from the Department of Transportation would be on hand to field concerns, assured that the entire event would be nationally televised.

Somehow, I don't think that's the kind of summit Reuters would like to see.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Reuters bans my comments re Toyota

Reuters news organization has informed me that my account has been "banned from commenting."  This comes as no shock, because Reuters has previously removed my remarks regarding Toyota.  This is, however, the first time I've been banned per se from expressing my opinion on a website.

The way Reuters' ban came about is interesting.  A few weeks ago, I submitted a comment critical of the Recall King.  It was published, but immediately removed.  I resubmitted a time or two with the same result, whereupon I exposed Reuters' blatant censorship on Twitter and Facebook and submitted copies of the posts to Reuters via another comment, which, of course was never published nor did I expect it to be.  Apparently, however, Reuters took notice.

Yesterday, I submitted a comment on Reuters' article regarding Toyota's latest recall of 333,000 units - RAV4s and Highlanders - for an airbag defect.  What I immediately encountered was difficulty signing in, even if I used my Facebook account.  So I finally requested password assistance and got logged on.  Then I submitted a comment rakin' Toyota over well deserved coals for their never ending parade of defects.  But unlike before, the comment wasn't published, even temporarily.  Instead, I got a message that the comment would be "moderated."  Apparently, that's Reutersese for "censored."

So I waited an hour or two - not expectin' much - and again fired off a complaint tweet and a post on Facebook exposin' Reuters' rebuff of free speech.  Then - like before - I attempted to send Reuters copies, and that's when I immediately got the message that my account had been banned from commenting.  Yessir, I'll bet ol' Reuters already knew about me exposin' 'em again on Facebook and Twitter, and decided to throw a tantrum by just flat out bannin' my remarks altogether.  "That'll teach the guy to get smart with a kingpin of mainstream media such as Reuters."

If it weren't for serious issues of free speech, Reuters' childish response to my opinions about Toyota would be downright funny.  Do they wish to control the dissemination of newsworthy information?  Or is it merely hubris confounding common sense in the age of the Internet?  Hard to say at this point, but it sure makes a body wonder what kinda relationship Reuters has with Toyota.

Rest assured, Reuters, that I'm not anywhere close to intimidated.  I'll be exposin' the likes of you and Toyota every chance I get.

Update 4/23/2011 - Reuters must have complained to Facebook, because when I referenced this blog post, Facebook blocked the information from Posts by Everyone.

Update 4/24/2011 - Today I referenced this blog post again on Facebook, and the reference was published in Posts by Everyone.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Latest Toyota recall shows true colors

Moody's Investors Services' recent analysis of  Toyota puts things in post earthquake perspective for Japanese automakers:  Nissan considered for a credit upgrade, Honda viewed as stable, and the Recall King placed under review for another drop in credit rating.  "The rating agency also said that the company's high level of incentive spending and its declining share in major markets like the U.S. indicated that consumer perceptions of the company's quality may have weakened compared with some of its competitors." 

Speaking of consumer perceptions, Toyota's continuing lousy attitude toward cusotmers was epitomized by their latest recall.  Thanks to a whistleblower -  supported by his colleagues - media exposed several defects, including a brake problem.  Then the Recall King acknowledged the defects but refused to issue a recall until an outraged public changed Toyota's mind.

Amidst Toyota's handwringing public apologies and promises to put more emphasis on customer satisfaction, here's yet another example of actions speaking louder than words.  Evidence that Toyota has yet to learn any "big lessons," and will keep trying to get away with whatever it can, profits before people.  As one consumer wrote, "Does it mean that the safety of the Vietnamese people is not a matter of concern to Toyota Vietnam? They know (about the flaws) but they've decided to ignore everything.”  Furthermore, based on the whistleblower's allegations, Toyota has knowingly sold some 60,000 of these defective vehicles.

The whistleblowing and public protests coincide nicely with Moody's analysis of a company that obviously has a long way to go when it comes to building trust.  No surprises for me.  Its the Toyota I've come to know and expect. 

Update 4/16/2011 - The scandal has now worsened, prompting a recall of nearly 66,000 units, the largest ever in Vietnam.  This is even more than the whistleblower revealed had been sold.  And apparently the Recall King still doesn't get it.  Toyota apologized for the recall but neglected to apologize for not listening to warnings from their whistleblowin' engineer and his colleagues.

Update 4/22/2011 - Whew.  Its hard to keep up with all the Toyota recalls.  Their "latest" is now a whoppin' 330,000 units for an airbag defect.  RAV4s, Highlanders.  Oops - yesterday (4/26/2011) Toyota announed a 51,000 unit recall of Tundra trucks re a drive shaft defect.     

Update 4/27/2011 - Top Gear auto news has asked Toyota how the Vietnam recall will affect Thai-built Fortuners sold in the Phillipines, but the Recall King has yet to reply.

Update 6/19/2011 - Amidst Toyota's adamant denials of the obvious, the Recall King has now taken action against the whistleblower: http://www.thanhniennews.com/2010/Pages/20110614123057.aspx

Friday, March 18, 2011

Toyota runs, but can't hide

Reputation for defects, known far and wide; Toyota can run, but Toyota can't hide.

Heartfelt thanks to Armen Hareyan and Torque News for publishing my article, "Toyota Losin' for a Reason."  I'm honored to have my opinion featured.  Visit TorqueNews on Facebook and TorqueNewsAuto on Twitter.  

Word is gettin' out about the Recall King's lousy products and equally lousy attitude.  Things have apparently gotten to the point where Toyota is experimenting with marketing efforts that seek to divert attention away from troublesome issues such as recalls, lawsuits, fines, and investigations.  Meaningful info about the vehicle is all but eliminated, along with reporters' question and answer sessions.  Those questions from the media can be embarassing.  Much safer to spotlight a pagentry of music and models.  All in unison, girls.  Spell the plural of Prius.

But will it work?  Will consumers be mesmerized into plunking down hard earned dollars for products no longer imbued with the mistique of a manufacturer that can do no wrong?  Not likely.  At least not for a stretch.  Recall King Toyota must now face the consequences of deeds brought to the public's attention in a big way.  

Its a little late for glitzy ads, Recall King.  Try all the diversionary tactics you want, but the facts are rainin' on your parade.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ruling supports plaintiffs re Prius brakes

Call 'em Priuses, Prii, or whatever you will (try Glitch-mobiles), but a class action lawsuit alleging defective brakes will proceed.  The judge denied Toyota's request for a dismissal, and rightly so.

This lawsuit over Prius brakes stems from complaints galore, and alleges that Toyota knew about a defect years before the cars were recalled.  Based on my experience, the allegations ring true.  Even though the Internet is loaded with complaints of sudden engine failures in MR2 Spyders, Toyota refuses to acknowledge a defect, maintaining that the failures "could be caused by a number of things, such as not changing the oil at proper intervals."  When I tried to discuss the postings from two major car clubs, Toyota's "customer loyalty" guy "didn't want to hear about all that."  And NHTSA refuses to get involved because - thanks to lobbying efforts, no doubt - sudden engine failures such as those involving the MR2 Spyders are not considered a safety issue.  Of course, this all goes hand in hand with blamin' the customer (sound familiar?), who winds up on the short side when it comes to having any practical recourse.   

Like the lawsuit over Prius headlights, Toyota will probably settle this Prius brake case long before risking a jury decision.  A jury is likely to look at the number of complaints, exercise a little common sense, and hand down a hefty tab for punitive damages. 

What kind of company treats its customers in such a manner?  And what kind of government lets 'em get away with it?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Toyota a liability for Lotus, FT-86

With all those engine failures in MR2 Spyders, no wonder Toyota is relying on Subaru for the engine in the still anticipated finale of the FT-86 (Scion FR-S).  But as Toyota partners with Subaru and ventures once again into sports car land, informed consumers will also contemplate such things as Toyota's botched job designing MR2 hood releases. And now that Toyota has become somewhat less than a paragon of quality, we learn that sports car legend Lotus has been catchin' criticism from customers because of its involvement with the Recall King.

Frankly, I've always thought it strange that Lotus would link up with Toyota, even though - as I understand it - the Recall King's engines are not exactly stock by the time Lotus gives 'em a goin' over. Nonetheless, Lotus has now decided to quit with the Toyota engines. Right on for "Engine by Lotus. From scratch. Honest."

Since word got out about all those stonewalled engine failures in MR2 Spyders, Toyota seems to have a flair for teamin' up with other brands when it comes to sports cars. But I'm bettin' lots of folks see things the same way I do. Havin' been fooled once by Toyota's efforts to produce a sports car, I'm no longer impressed by anything Toyota is involved in, and certainly not the FT-86. Especially that often-loaded-with-bugs first year model. Among other things, co-partner Subaru is suddenly departing from its longstanding practice of only producing vehicles with all wheel drive.

Maybe Toyota could get Lotus to do the bodywork, chassis, and drivetrain. Then with Subaru doin' the engine... But wait. Where would Toyota come in? No problem. Just put the Recall King in charge of advertising. But by all means, keep 'em away from those floor mats.

Note: A weird thing happened when I linked to a Consumer Reports FT-86 article via a Twitter "Top Tweet" and tried to post a comment. A pop-up appeared, "We're sorry, we cannot accept this data." Such a delight. Nothin' like open communications. Thought for a minute there I was being censored.

Update 11/27/11 - Leave it to Toyota to spawn years of teaser type marketing and then spring a last minute name change to GT 86. Ho hum. Another front engined monstrosity weighing in at 2,662 pounds complete with a fish-like appearance and two squished in rear seats. Next thing you know, the Recall King will be strikin' up a partnership with Ford's Mustang. 

Monday, February 28, 2011

If Toyota can't do floor mats...

Toyota's latest recall - 2.5 million units - prompted an interesting response from Hagens Berman, one of the attorneys suing the Recall King over floor mats.  While Toyota's friends at NHTSA are proudly declaring an end to their investigation of sudden, unintended acceleration, Mr. Berman dared to point out that this latest recall stands in "stark contrast" to what Toyota has been saying about the floor mat issue.  Instead of backin' off, maybe NHTSA should be takin' a closer look.

Let's start with just how "voluntary" this recall actually is.  The terminology sounds good for the Recall King, but based on the facts, it sounds a little too good.  Smacks of another cozy deal with NHTSA, whereby Toyota gets to play word games.  Now don't get me wrong.  I'm delighted that Toyota is gettin' exposed and havin' to foot the bill - financially and PR wise - for this recall.  But its kinda like those "record setting" yet slap-on-the-wrist fines allowing Toyota to walk away without any admission of wrongdoing.  The punishment may be well deserved, but its hardly sufficient.

This latest recall is another credibility issue for the Recall King.  Folks had reason to believe that Toyota had solved the floor mat thing, only to discover that "the rest of the story" was - or is - yet to be told.  Wonder how long Toyota and NHTSA have known about these additional problems regarding floor mats?  As things now stand, nobody can be blamed for concluding that there's more to this story than we've been told.  One plaintiff in a sudden acceleration lawsuit has already spoken out, saying this latest recall is proof positive that unanswered questions remain.  And folks in Minneapolis are plannin' a demonstration - 3/22, 8-9 AM, 300 4th St. - to tell the feds to hold Toyota accountable for not installing brake overrides.  

So lemme get this straight.  Toyota has problems designin' floor mats, but the Recall King is okay with electronics?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Stallin' the Toyota Way: '06 hybrid SUVs

Uh-oh.  The Recall King is facin' a brand spankin' new investigation, this time for complaints about engines stalling - most of 'em at 40 mph or more - in 2006 Highlander hybrid SUVs.  And here again, there's a finer point:  How long has Toyota known about this issue?  How many customers have complained to Toyota about this problem since 2006?  Surely we aren't expected to believe that Toyota first heard of it via NHTSA.

If matters rested on just this one case, it would be different.  But this is the umpteenth time we've had reason to wonder how long Toyota has known about malfunctions in its vehicles.  The question arises, for example, with those embarassing fines from NHTSA, the complaints about Prius headlights, and a current lawsuit involving allegations that Toyota knew about Prius brake problems for years before finally issuing a recall.   

When vehicles suddenly stall, won't restart, and have to be towed in, its not hard to imagine the kind of complaints voiced to Toyota.  Looks like the matter should have been settled a long time ago, without any involvement from NHTSA.  Foot draggin' can go a long way when it comes to such things as warranties and customers givin' up on pursuing a complaint.  "Aw shucks.  Let's just trade this thing in and move on."

Frankly, I don't see how on earth floor mats could... no, wait.  Floor mats were causin' sudden acceleration.  This time the vehicles are stallin'.  In fact, some other models - Corolla, Matrix - started stallin' not long ago.  Gee.  I hope someone is keepin'  track of all this.  Maybe it'll help me sort things out if I connect Toyota's '06 Highlander hybrids with how the engine in my MR2 was threatening to stall as it disintegrated.     

Lawsuits, fines, subpoenas, online petitions, investigations, recalls, multi-million dollar settlements, confidentiality agreements, criminal charges, and the list goes on ad nauseum.  Talk about consumer affairs...

Update 2/24/11 - Did I say brand spankin' new investigation?  There's been yet another massive Toyota recall, and now CHINA wants Toyota to explain.  Seems the Chinese have doubts about the Recall King's claims that vehicles sold in China were not defective.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Toyota doesn't make cars for bloggers?

Toyota's recent advertisement declaring "we don't make cars for bloggers" was apparently aimed at the enormous amount of criticism Toyota faces on the Internet.  Now, now Toyota. You musn't lose your temper over this free speech thing. 

Best I can tell, Toyota and its protectors have been losin' the battle when it comes to promoting the automaker's interests on the Web, thanks in large part to sharp criticisms from bloggers, especially micro-bloggers on social media websites such as Twitter. To drum up support for the Recall King, someone recently offered bloggers $10 Amazon gift cards in exchange for favorable postings, etc., and even e-mailed a linked list of preferred websites for the bloggers to target. But alas. One of the bloggers took an ethical exception to all this, complained rather loudly, and things never materialized. In fact, things backfired by bringing about a social media uproar and a tweet from Toyota denying any involvement in the scheme. Nothin' like a devoted fan...

Listen, Toyota. I can understand why you might have it in for bloggers. But if you really wanna punish 'em, don't refuse to make cars for 'em. Instead, make 'em buy your cars.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sudden, unwarranted acclamations

What a hoot.  Toyota's protectors - including U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and NHTSA - are declaring the Recall King blameless because NASA says it can't prove electronics are responsible for some of Toyota's recent avalanche of sudden unintended acceleration issues.

Maybe Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood - talk about a Toyota mouthpiece - should read the report.  NASA doesn't say that electronics aren't involved.  It merely states - after examining a whoppin' total of nine (!) vehicles - that the agency has been unable to prove a connection.  In fact, experts in the field are already questioning the government's methodology.  The only thing that's been proven is the fact that there's a long way to go before this matter is resolved.  Ironically enough, what has been resolved - the effectiveness of a brake override system - does not bode well for the Recall King.  While others were installing this safety device, the world's "number one automaker" lagged behind.  Drug its feet so slowly that this glaring safety omission has become the focal point of lawsuits filed against Toyota not only by customers, but also insurance companies.  Furthermore, Toyota's 8 million recalls for sudden unintended acceleration were based on mechanical issues, not electronics. 

Pardon a pun, but the overriding issue isn't Toyota's electronics, its Toyota's credibility.  For proof that this issue has taken center stage, one need look no further than the eyebrow raisin' results of an Associated Press investigation and the recent appointment of a special counsel to determine if Toyota illegally concealed rollover data in a case in Texas.

Regardless of Ray LaHood, NHTSA, NASA, and the best electoral system money can buy, this is still the age of the Internet.  With thousands of customers signing an online petition complaining of continuing problems with oil sludge, two major car clubs howling about engine failures in MR2 Spyders, and an increasing host of other websites critical of Toyota, the Recall King obviously has a long way to go when it comes to establishing trust.   

Sudden, unwarranted acclamations won't silence the facts, Toyota.  Word is out regarding the way you do business.   

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Special counsel to see if Toyota hid evidence

Former Toyota attorney Dimitrios Biller may have lost his case in front of an arbitrator, but Biller's claims that Toyota illegally witheld evidence have prompted a judge in Texas to appoint a special counsel to conduct an investigation. I'd say its about time.

If such allegations came only from Biller, it would be bad enough, but here's the deal.  Biller is far from alone. Ditto the case in Texas. The enormous cloud of smoke includes similar allegations from other attorneys, and downright shocking disclosures from a recent Associated Press investigation. Toss in a zillion lawsuits, record-setting government fines, racketeering charges, settlements apparently calculated to avoid jury decisions, and investigations by a federal grand jury and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Really, folks. That's a lot of smoke.

I applaud the judge in Texas for refusing to be intimidated by the arbitrator's ruling in California. As smoke billows from customer complaints and embarassing revelations regarding the Recall King, nobody can be blamed for thinkin' there's a fire.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Prius defect shows contempt for customers

No wonder Toyota's little Glitch-mobile has been unseated by Honda's Fit for the top spot in Japan.  Part of the recent parade of Prius defects includes a troublesome tendency for the headlights to malfunction.  Just imagine.  There you are, goin' down the road at night when the thing suddenly accelerates, brakes fail, and the headlights go off.  Okay.  All three at the same time might be unlikely.  Point is, Toyota's glitches seem to be catchin' up with the Recall King's sales, even on home turf.

But the finer point goes beyond lousy products.  Toyota refuses to get it right when it comes to customer relations.  Bad headlights - obviously bad based on the number of complaints to NHTSA - become the subject of a class action lawsuit instead of a good faith effort on the part of Toyota to correct the problem.  Based on my experience with the Recall King, I wasn't surprised that customers were hassled at dealerships.  Oh what a feeling...

Ah, the Toyota Way.  Force folks to sue, then work out a settlement whereby Toyota avoids admitting that there was a defect.  A jury never rules on the issue, and Toyota avoids a recall.  Slick stuff.  "Number One for a Reason" indeed.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"Slick" ad campaign backfires on Toyota

When I saw that Toyota's ad agency, Saatchi and Saatchi, was involved in marketing the new "family" of Glitch-mobiles ("Priuses" they like to call 'em), I got to wonderin' if Saatchi is part of Toyota's problem. Tryin' to recall (if you'll pardon the pun) a story that came out some time ago, I did a Google search, and there it was. Plenty of reason to be alarmed about the kinda folks Toyota depends on for advertising. You know. So-called "professionals" as opposed to customers.   

Toyota's ad agency was sending a woman anonymous e-mails with threatening overtones, etc., as part of a so-called marketing scheme for the Matrix. I won't belabor the absurdity. Suffice it to say that Toyota seems to have a way of terrorizing people. Startin' 2011 off with yet another month of disappointing sales, apparently Toyota's philosophy goes something like this: Big ad agencies, they got glitz. Pomp. And circumstance. As for customers? All they got is some old-fashioned thing called "word of mouth."

Wonder what the Toyota team will come up with next.

Update 2/3/2011 - Regarding the above link, Reuters censored my comment about Toyota's disappointing sales for January.  Such censorship is also alive and well at ABC News.

Update 9/13/2011 - The victim of Toyota's absurd marketing scheme filed a $10 million lawsuit, and an appeals court has ruled that the suit can go forward.     

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Toyota = The One You Ought To Avoid

At least Toyota makes a great acronym.  In their case, "The One You Ought To Avoid" is just about as good as acronyms get.  Today's recalls, totalling out at 1.7 million units, make over 12 million units recalled since 2009, and a whoppin' 27.6 million since '05.  Referrin' to Toyota as the "Recall King" is apropos, but the acronym gets down to the ol' bottom line when you factor in lousy dealerships, blame-the-customer attitudes, racketeering charges, a federal grand jury look see, three record setting government fines in one year, and a judge ruling that allegations of fraud are sufficient enough for an avalanche of lawsuits to proceed.  There's more, but whew.  That's enough.

U.S. sales have plunged, global production is droppin', and the Recall King has nobody to thank but itself.  There's an old sayin', Toyota, that "the customer is always right."  Ignore it at your own peril.  Worse yet, remain aloof.  Act like customers aren't too bright - regardless of evidence to the contrary - and wait for problems to just somehow disappear.  Then, to really ice up the cake, get charged with tryin' to keep stuff quiet.  See what happens.

As "The One You Ought To Avoid" stews in its own juice, consumer advocate Charlene Blake put it quite well:  "Didn't its 'Mama' teach it that what goes 'round comes 'round?!? Tsk, tsk, Toyota!  You should have seen it comin'!!"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Volt upstages Prius. Toyota features Akio.

GM's Volt musta shocked Akio Toyoda when it won the North American Car of the Year award at this year's prestigious International Auto Show.  It happened while Akio was makin' his first ever appearance at the Detroit show, wringing his hands about recalls, and carrying on about the Prius, Tesla's production techniques, Toyota's outdated styling, a sudden determination to cater to customers, and - believe it or not - Toyota's commitment to safety.  The Recall King would have been better off if the "Prince" had stayed home.  And kept quiet.

Toyota was apparently hoping to steal the show by unveiling a "family" of new Prius models.  But these aren't the good ol' days.  Too many recalls.  Too many fines.  Too many disclosures, charges, investigations, lawsuits, and settlements.  Too many angry customers, Prince.  And correcting the situation will take a lot more than silly advertisements focusing on how to make the word "Prius" plural.  Nonetheless, insofar as the little glitch-mobile is concerned, your new Prius collection is about as exciting as the ad campaign. 

Please, Akio.  Pretty please.  Don't tell us any more about the recalls, the Prius, a lack of production and styling expertise, attitudes toward customers, or Toyota's commitment to safety.  Really, Prince.  Over the past year, we've heard quite enough about all that.  Instead, tell us why thousands of customers have signed an online petition complaining of continuing problems with oil sludge.  Tell us about all those engine failures in MR2 Spyders and why you've stonewalled complaints from owners, as well as two major car clubs.  Please, Prince.  Give us reason to believe that your company has changed.  For the better.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Toyota Prius best coined "GLITCH-mobile"

It was a cute little marketing ploy - presented not long before the North American International Auto Show - for GM's CEO to refer to Toyota's Prius as a "geek-mobile," touting it as no match for GM's new Volt.  Gee.  I certainly hope GM's new product is better than the Prius.  Fact is, it wouldn't have to be all that great.  A better nickname for Toyota's little wonder car would be "glitch-mobile," underscored by Toyota's latest Prius recall:  650,000 units to repair poorly designed water pumps, even though the Recall King says this wasn't actually a recall, blabbering something about customer satisfaction.  Regarding "customer satisfaction," its interesting that the models with the botched water pumps are '04 thru '07.  Given currently-charged-with-racketeering Toyota's reputation for being a bit slow to acknowledge defects, I can't help but wonder how long Toyota has known about these problems. 

Lookin' over my blog posts concerning the Prius, its no wonder the things are not sellin' as well lately.  Glitches galore.  Acceleration problems, braking problems, headlight problems, and the list continues right up to the defective water pumps.  Seems Toyota's discounts aren't workin' too well either...

Its a shame the media spotlight somehow keeps missin' all those engine failures in MR2 Spyders.  Two major car clubs have been screamin' about the situation for years, along with consumers posting complaints all over the Internet.  Wonder what other problems Toyota has been having - such as continuing problems with oil sludge - that the media has chosen to ignore?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Whistleblower was good enough for Congress, but...

Its too bad former Toyota attorney Dimitrios Biller wasn't able to present his case to a jury instead of an arbitrator. Had he done so, I believe he would have won, and its noteworthy that Toyota and its dealerships seem to have a strong preference for arbitration.

Simply put, "where there's smoke, there's fire," and if any automaker has been literally engulfed in smoke lately, its Recall King Toyota. Biller's allegations and disclosures hardly stood alone.  Similar accusations have been coming out for well over a year gratis the sheer avalanche of lawsuits filed against Toyota, along with a headline grabbin' congressional investigation, racketeering charges, three record-setting government fines, a federal grand jury investigation, an ongoing parade of recalls involving a spectacular assortment of defects, and a recent, court ordered disclosure of a $10 million settlement in a runaway Lexus case. In the roar - dare I say racket? - Biller's cries of foul play were almost drowned out.

Especially disturbing is the fact that Biller's boxloads of documents - now ruled privileged between attorney and client - were subpeoned by congress and found beneficial, spotlighting such things as Toyota boasting about saving 100 million dollars by cutting corners with NHTSA on a safety issue. Had congress subpeoned Toyota instead of Biller, does anyone believe such information would have been released? Toyota has long been accused of dirty tactics, including the witholding of information the company is legally required to turn over in lawsuits. Biller apparently confirmed such accusations, prompting a Texas court to initiate contempt procedings against Toyota for witholding information pertinent to rollover crashes in a case involving a 17-year-old victim paralyzed from the neck down.

Attorney-client privilege is justifiably a cornerstone of law. But there are, as another old saying goes, exceptions to all rules. Amidst safey issues galore involving the Recall King, whistleblower Biller acted in the public's best interest, yet wound up being ordered to keep quiet, return the documents, and give Toyota 2.6 million dollars. 

Let's face it. Something is terribly wrong with this picture.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Yahoo censorship re insurers suing Toyota

Yahoo is again refusing to publish my comments.   

I guess Toyota is extra touchy now that seven insurance companies have filed suit based on the Recall King's refusal to install brake override systems.  As the below referenced article points out, these suits are a major challenge for Toyota. 

Just for the record, here's what I had to say:

"Toyota is finally getting its just desserts for refusing to install overrides while other automakers offered this safety feature.  As one of the Recall King's many dissatisfied customers - been bloggin' 'bout 'em for quite some time at (this blog's url) - I'm especially pleased that Toyota is accused of failing to disclose known defects."

I've noticed quite a few comments lately complaing of Yahoo censorship.  Hey, Yahoo:  the world is watching.

Update 1/7/2011 Yahoo continues to censor my comments.   Toyota has now made the list for america's most hated 15 companies, and Yahoo immediately removed my comment, "Toyota should be at the top of the list, and not only for recalls.  The complaints are many, including lousy service and equally lousy attitudes toward customers.  I've been bloggin' 'bout the Recall King for quite some time at (this blog's url)." http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110106/ts_alt_afp/usconsumerbusiness

D.A. drops charges - driver of runaway Lexus sues Toyota.

This case - another big embarassment for the Recall King - is shockingly similar to that of wrongfully convicted Toyota driver Koua Fong Lee. In fact, prosecutors weighed the Lee case heavily before dropping the charges against Unmi Suk Chung.  Fortunately - unlike Koua Fong Lee - Chung didn't have to spend four years in prison.

Koua Fong Lee is also suing Toyota, and if his case is any precursor of events, expect Toyota to suddenly claim that Unmi Suk Chung's vehicle was somehow altered. That's the latest Toyota tactic regarding Lee's runaway Camry, and we now await - with bated breath - further elaboration from the Recall King. Maybe this sort of thing is what Toyota means when they threaten to defend themselves "vigorously."

Chung's suit alleges problems with Toyota's electronic throttle control and also highlights the fact - as do similar suits - that while other automakers were installing brake override systems, Toyota neglected to do so. Lack of an override is now a major issue, further emphasized in lawsuits filed last week by seven insurance companies.     

Stay tuned. The air is rife with allegations that Toyota is guilty of cover-up and fraud, and there's sure to be plenty of headline grabbin' revelations as both of these cases - along with the sheer avalanche of class action and individual lawsuits filed against Toyota - work their way through the courts.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Car and Driver slams Toyota for 2011

Talk about a coincidence:  Toyota's 2011 Sienna recall was announced shortly after Car and Driver magazine let it be known that no Toyota would be included in its top 10 picks for 2011.  Great timing, Toyota.       

Based on my experience, most any automaker would be preferable to the Recall King,  and I'm especially pleased to see a few rear wheel drive vehicles makin' the grade for CD's top ten.  Notably enough, that's an area where Toyota has no offerings whatsoever.  Their last rear wheeler was the MR2 Spyder, plagued by a rash of engine failures in 2000 thru 2002 models.  If they offer another sports car, I sure wouldn't wanna risk buyin' one.   

The Recall King is suffering from exposure, and its glaring absence from CD's top picks for 2011 speaks volumnes.  The word - no pun intended - is out, Toyota.