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

Monday, January 27, 2014

Toyota accused of cover-up regarding software causing sudden unintended acceleration

The founder of the firm that won the big case against Toyota in Oklahoma has produced a video accusing Toyota of a cover-up.

"Toyota knew before the first recalls that there was a problem with the Electronic Throttle Control System, in regards to sudden unintended acceleration, as early as 2004. When you go back and look at the beginning of this problem, they knew about the problem, that's the real tragedy." Jere Beasley, Founder, Beasley Law Firm

No wonder the Recall King now blabbers about needing to be "reborn" in the eyes of its customers. Toyota can talk the talk. But when it comes to walkin' the walk...

Listen up, Akio. "Select shops" don't stonewall about obvious defects that cause engines to suddenly disintegrate, ruin exhaust systems, and deplete customers' bank accounts of the better part of ten thousand dollars. Pocket change to you. Big bucks to most folks. And "select shops" don't make national headlines for every misdeed imaginable, along with a never-ending parade of defects, safety and otherwise. "Select shops" are competent, honest, and treat customers with respect. Toyota is a long way from being viewed as a "select shop" by informed consumers.

The impact of the Oklahoma case cannot be overstated. The Recall King is now in "settlement mode," exemplified by Toyota's response to a sudden unintended acceleration case in West Virginia shortly after the guilty verdict in Oklahoma:

“There seemed to be a pretty clear purpose on Toyota’s part to get a deal done” and keep the case out of court, attorney Edgar “Hike” Heiskell said. “There was a real sense of motivation on that side of the table.” A spokeswoman for Toyota declined comment.

More to the point, Toyota is now rushing to institute a "global settlement that would resolve all of the personal injury and wrongful death product liability cases." Of course, we can expect such a settlement to be structured with Toyota's trademark of confidentiality agreements, thereby keeping incriminating technical data quiet, buttressed with language makin' it crystal clear that the ol' Recall King admits to no wrongdoing. Never mind the ongoing risk to consumers as instances of sudden unintended acceleration continue to make headlines.

Meanwhile, David Strickland, former top dawg at NHTSA, has wormed his way into lobbying for the auto industry:

"We think that the thing industry will be most impressed by was the pass David Strickland gave Toyota's electronics in the Unintended Acceleration crisis. Sure, the government fined Toyota to the max. But the automaker only had to pay penalties for failing to mount timely recalls for floor mat interference and sticky accelerator pedals. NHTSA whitewashed the problems of Toyota's electronic throttle control system."

It's probably no coincidence that Mr. Strickland left NHTSA shortly after Toyota was read the riot act by that jury in Oklahoma. His newfound occupation epitomizes the ol' revolvin' door game, helpin' to insure that unfair business practices continue:

"In perhaps the most glaring case, Toyota staffed up with former NHTSA officials as it faced an inquiry into sudden acceleration in its Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Over 10 years, more motorists died from such accidents in Toyota and Lexus vehicles than in cars from all other manufacturers combined." (Emphasis mine)

Engineers are taking notice of the incriminating evidence against Toyota. The exceptionally well-credentialed Michael Barr, who testified in the Oklahoma case, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker for an EE Times conference set for March 31st through April 3rd.

I just love it when the truth comes out.

Update 2/20/2014 - Actually, the truth came out about Toyota's slick manuevering way back in 2010. "Toyota's deadly secrets" presents a scathing review. "Statistically, Toyota had one speed-control-crash complaint per 20,454 vehicles sold in the United States. This figure is significant when compared to other major auto manufacturers such as Ford: one complaint per 64,679 vehicles; Honda: one complaint per 70,112 vehicles; and General Motors: one complaint per 197,821 vehicles."