AKio ToyodaPerhaps someone can educate me, but an astute friend writes to me that Mr. Toyoda gave a very contritionate diplomatic apology to the US. It seems from the bleachers to me that the problem with making an abject monkey and whipping boy of the big Japanese auto maker is that there is retaliation. It's like raising the tariffs that started World War 1 to me. Surely there is something better to do than bash the Japanese who make cars so much safer than we do, and whose customer satisfaction is so high. Do we really think that this kind of thing helps…

Alan Millhone replies:

I'm on my second leaded Nissan and find them to be a very solid auto. My dealer says Nissans are "Bullet proof" in terms of reliability. You are likely right in your assertions concerning Mr. Toyota. All of us need to learn to get along and be supportive of each other. Likely more mortgage troubles loom and under reported unemployment figures and troubled banks to haunt all of us in the near horizon. I feel my rentals will come back from the dead like gangbusters as folks will not be able to muster required higher down payments to purchase the American dream of owning a home.

Dan Grossman writes:

I would guess the truth of the acceleration for Toyota is something like:

1. We don't know what it is.

2. It may be nothing (mostly driver's error like Audi, maybe a floor mat or two, and for the rest very minor statistical happening of 2 in a million cars, can't reproduce, can't scientifically identify).

But if Toyota said that, all hell would break loose, "The American people will not stand for this" and all kinds of Congressional and Transportation Dept posturing.

So they have to apologize again and again, and recall all the cars, and "fix" the defect that they really have not been able to identify.

I know nothing about auto mechanics, but that's my guess.

Pitt T. Maner III comments:

 So if it turns out to be electronic what would this lead to? Would the onboard computer come from another country?

Dave Gilbert, a professor at Southern Illinois University automotive technology department found a design flaw in the electronic system, which prevents the vehicles onboard computer from “detecting and stopping certain short circuits that can trigger sudden speed surges.” As a result of the onboard computers failure to detecting and stopping the short circuits, the computer does not record an error code; and doesn’t activate the system that is designed to shut off the vehicle’s power and put it into “limp home” mode. Therefore there is no way to trace back to the original issue after an incident of sudden acceleration, which has led Toyota officials to continue dismissing accusations of electronic malfunctions. A Safety Research & Strategies advocate stated, “The system is fallible, in fact, it’s got some really troubling design strategies that are employed by Toyota that appear to be outside the norm. And their system clearly has design strategy that has a very slim margin of safety.”

James Lackey writes:

Toyoda has been apologizing since he took the job.

1. Cars break.

2. All cars have defects.

3. All car makers do cost benefit to recall or not to recall and if not to recall why pay for the redesign.

4. All Toyota's problems are from truck losses. They top ticked a new truck line in 2005.

5. F and T both use the same hybrid brake tech with the same feel problems. T was based, F wasn't. Proof there is drama, but why?

6. Toyota employees– so many Americans, it's funny. They wasted trillions of Yen with GM and no one could even come up with an argument not to close the factory of the future in California. We just wondered what took so long for GM to go bust and Toy to quit.

7. See INTC keeping AMD around.

8. Japan and Korea love to argue. Hyundai and KIA are in Alabama and making and selling cars. Watch Olympic speed skaters and you'll understand the battle.

9. In the 80s the Japanese feared a traders tax so they assembled them here.

10. The pedal in question is Indiana manufactured. The Japanese pedal worked fine. Some one is in huge trouble.

11. Toyoda, if like the last Ford CEO named Ford, wasn't much of a car guy. His job is PR. Last year he spent all him time apologizing to the Japanese investors for a financial loss at #1.

Akio Toyoda?

Born May 3, 1956 (1956-05-03) (age 53) Nagoya, Japan Nationality

Japanese Education Faculty of Law, Keio University MBA, Babson College

Occupation President and CEO, Toyota Motor CorporationEnd.

It's a preannouncement silo earnings, dump all bad news and all recalls/problems at once. It's a blizzard. Notice all the car guys (GM F Chrysler/Fiat Honda KIA/Hyundai Nissan Daimler BMW) keeping their mouths shut. It's not that they are being nice and humble, they all have their problems. My dad called me today on a car electrical problem. It's hard to test over the phone. Then I thought, hey where were all the mechanics at the hearings and on the news tape? The people that work on the cars can tell you every single problem and fix per model, if they can't the dat recorders can.


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