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  (Source: Sting Ray Studios)

Toyota has recalled millions of vehicles, including the best-selling Camry for unintended acceleration problems. Toyota has now received a massive fine for trying to deceive U.S. federal regulators.  (Source: Torque Report)
Fine is largest in U.S. history against an automaker

The atmosphere at the U.S. Department of Transportation on Monday was tense as Secretary Ray LaHood slammed Japanese automaker Toyota.  Lahood announced, "We now have proof that Toyota failed to live up to its legal obligationsWorse yet, they knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from U.S. officials and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families."

Defects are an automaker's eternal enemy.  Every year thousands, if not millions of vehicles are recalled for defects.  Toyota's critical problem was not so much the defects itself -- despite the massive number of vehicles involved.  Rather, Toyota's key mistake was the dangerous game of deception it reportedly played.

According to documents obtained from Toyota, the company began a recall on "sticky pedals" in September of last year in Canada and Europe.  However, it failed to inform U.S. regulators of the problem, and made no effort to launch a recall of the effected vehicles until it came under heavy fire in January.

That constitutes a gross violation of federal safety guidelines, which demand that an automaker inform the U.S. federal regulators within five days of discovering a defect.

As a result, the DOT has thrown the book at Toyota, proposing a $16.4M USD, the maximum penalty allowed under the law.  That fine far surpasses the biggest previous fine against an automaker -- $1M USD sum levied against General Motors for failing to promptly recall windshield wipers in 2002-2003 model vehicles.

Toyota has two weeks decide its response.  Despite the reportedly conclusive evidence, the Asian automaker is expected to appeal the decision, perhaps seeking a smaller fine.

Meanwhile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) continues to investigate the sticky accelerators, unsatisfied with Toyota's claim that floor mats were solely to blame.  NHTSA is looking at a host of mechanical and electrical elements for bugs, and is even examining whether cosmic rays could play a role, with the help of experts from NASA.

The government continues to investigate Toyota's behavior during the recall, as well.  DOT officials said more fines could brought against Toyota if further proof of wrongdoing is revealed.

While the defect mess is unpleasant for all those involved it does raise some interesting questions about governance.  Some say that the government should not police companies, and that the commercial press should be left to investigate reports of defects and inform consumers of safety risk.  Others argue the current system is a successful one.  And still others argue that current regulation does not go far enough -- that the federal government should have the ability to levy even bigger fines against companies who knowingly make products that could endanger U.S. consumers.

Likewise, the 135 pending lawsuits against Toyota raise similar questions.  Some argue that allowing such free litigation against safety critical businesses, such as automakers and healthcare providers allows citizens to take regulation into their own hands.  Others argue that it hinders free enterprise, raising prices, and worse yet leads to bigger government.


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Still Confused
By Reclaimer77 on 4/5/2010 10:24:38 PM , Rating: 0
quote:
Meanwhile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) continues to investigate the sticky accelerators, unsatisfied with Toyota's claim that floor mats were solely to blame. NHTSA is looking at a host of mechanical and electrical elements for bugs, and is even examining whether cosmic rays could play a role, with the help of experts from NASA.


If the NHTSA still cannot verify that the defect even exists, how in the hell can Toyota be blamed for a so called cover-up?? The NHTSA's specialty is finding and testing defects. If the problem was SO massive that Toyota deemed it should be hidden, why can't the people who get paid to find these things reproduce it ??

And cosmic rays ? That's laughable. Drive-by-wire systems exactly like Toyota's are used by dozens of automakers in millions of vehicles. They are completely immune to EFI or cosmic ray interference.

This is a witch hunt, plain and simple. Something smells really fishy here. How you can slap a huge fine on a company for a problem that you cannot prove exists is baffling to me.




RE: Still Confused
By DominionSeraph on 4/5/2010 10:51:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
According to documents obtained from Toyota, the company began a recall on "sticky pedals" in September of last year in Canada and Europe. However, it failed to inform U.S. regulators of the problem, and made no effort to launch a recall of the effected vehicles until it came under heavy fire in January.
That constitutes a gross violation of federal safety guidelines, which demand that an automaker inform the U.S. federal regulators within five days of discovering a defect.


"recall"
"sticky pedals"
I believe September--> January is generally greater than 5 days.

Oh, and I have a strange feeling that NASA knows a little more about the effects of cosmic rays on electronics than your nose.


RE: Still Confused
By Spuke on 4/5/2010 11:00:10 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Still Confused
By The Raven on 4/6/2010 10:49:05 AM , Rating: 2
To bring up a previous conversation, I guess we now know where the people with certain IQ levels are:
>100 at the Toyota dealerships
<100 at NHTSA and NBC


RE: Still Confused
By jonmcc33 on 4/7/2010 12:34:21 PM , Rating: 2
Apparently you missed that graph showing Toyota market share dropping?

http://online.wsj.com/media/AUTOYLY.gif

From Dec 2009 to Feb 2010 their market share dropped like a rock.


RE: Still Confused
By The Raven on 4/7/2010 1:53:24 PM , Rating: 2
This article is talking about after the news bubble.

There were many many people saying Toyota might not be able to recover and such. The good sales ## just show that many people don't believe the hype of runaway cars.


RE: Still Confused
By Samus on 4/8/2010 12:49:29 AM , Rating: 1
Jan-Feb Ford took about 60% of their 'potential' business with the Focus and Fusion. However, VW sold a good number of Golf and Jetta "TDI" models in February as well. GM sales also improved.

Basically, the public was swayed by all the negative press (Toyota recalls made front page headlines in most papers in January) and now that shit has hit the fan, things are on their way to normal. I can't find sales figured for March yet but I did see a Lexus IS 250h with March temp plates on my way to work the other day...so at least somebody bought one.


RE: Still Confused
By Parhel on 4/7/2010 12:47:55 PM , Rating: 2
I saw some great sales on Toyotas in this weekend's paper. I assumed they were related to the recent bad press, because Toyota never has good sales. No sale on the new Venza though, which is the one I may have considered.


RE: Still Confused
By porkpie on 4/5/10, Rating: 0
RE: Still Confused
By DominionSeraph on 4/6/2010 4:52:42 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
January 21, 2010 -- Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc, today announced it would recall approximately 2.3 million vehicles to correct sticking accelerator pedals on specific Toyota Division models. This action is separate from the on-going recall of approximately 4.2 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles to reduce the risk of pedal entrapment by incorrect or out of place accessory floor mats. Approximately 1.7 million Toyota Division vehicles are subject to both separate recall actions.


Floor mats was September. Toyota allegedly knew that the pedal was also defective at that time and held off saying anything until January.


RE: Still Confused
By The Raven on 4/6/2010 10:54:09 AM , Rating: 2
How many month did it take the NHTSA to figure out the problem... Oh what? They haven't? Oh my!

They safety mats to me are just like the Wii silicon sleeves. An attempt to shup people up. Like when Audi spaced the brake a little furthur away from the accelerator.

But one thing it doesn't demonstrate is that Toyota didn't care about the safety of their customers.


RE: Still Confused
By DominionSeraph on 4/6/2010 1:43:13 PM , Rating: 2
What the hell kind of idiotic Toyota shill are you? Do you not understand that these were Toyota's calls? Toyota is not arguing floor mats. They are not arguing pedals. Those were THEIR CONCLUSIONS. They implemented THEIR FIXES. This fine isn't about whether or not the fixes presented fix all problems, or even that they do anything at all; the fine is over Toyota hiding their OWN conclusion of, "pedal defect," from US regulators. They are NOT ALLOWED TO DO THAT.

There's nothing in this decision about the electronics.


RE: Still Confused
By porkpie on 4/6/2010 1:45:38 PM , Rating: 2
" Do you not understand that these were Toyota's calls?"

They were, yes. Toyota's wise decision to bend over backwards in the hopes of stemming another mass delusion like the one that crippled Audi sales in the 1980s for an accelerator problem that never existed. It's also a decision made on legal grounds, to help prevent some tort attorney from making billions off Toyota by claiming they "did nothing".

What this action is NOT is any sort of evidence or proof that a problem actually exists.


RE: Still Confused
By DominionSeraph on 4/6/2010 3:19:16 PM , Rating: 2
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB100014240527487043...
quote:

Audi got some relief from the 1989 study that blamed driver's errors. The researchers found that electronic faults in the idle-control systems of Audi 5000s could cause a short-term power surge that could startle drivers into hitting the gas pedal instead of the brake. The researchers also said the close placement of pedals in the Audi 5000—which were of a different size and configuration than many Detroit models— could lead drivers to mistake the gas for the brake.


That doesn't sound nonexistent to me.
If a car is built in such a way that it doesn't fit the drivers, that's a problem.

Build a motorcycle with the front brake lever on the left and the clutch on the right, and I foresee a lot of accidents coming out of first. It would not technically be defective, but it would still be a smart move to switch things to the standard configuration.


RE: Still Confused
By DominionSeraph on 4/6/2010 3:20:11 PM , Rating: 2
^^ nothing to do with Toyota.


RE: Still Confused
By porkpie on 4/6/2010 4:00:54 PM , Rating: 1
"If a car is built in such a way that it doesn't fit the drivers, that's a problem."

Ah, so in your opinion, compact and subcompact car on the planet has a serious design flaw, because obese people have a problem fitting inside them?

There was no problem with the Audi. It was driver error, plain and simple...fed by a irresponsible media looking for a story.


RE: Still Confused
By DominionSeraph on 4/6/2010 4:30:00 PM , Rating: 2
If obese people had trouble getting into such cars, they wouldn't exist in the American market.


RE: Still Confused
By porkpie on 4/6/2010 4:49:00 PM , Rating: 2
"If obese people had trouble getting into such cars, they wouldn't exist in the American market."

I'm surprised you managed to type that wanker without spraining a finger. Are you seriously claiming that a severely obese person doesn't have trouble fitting into a subcompact? There are people so large they can't even fit easily into a Tahoe, much less a Mini-Cooper.


RE: Still Confused
By DominionSeraph on 4/6/2010 4:31:53 PM , Rating: 1
And yes, faulty operation is a problem.

Stop forcing your logic.


RE: Still Confused
By mino on 4/6/2010 11:17:52 PM , Rating: 2
Sory to be rude, but if the drivers would RTFM, there would not be any problem.

Here in Europe if something like that(the AUDI issue) happened to me, everybody would laugh me of as an idiot who should not a have a license in the first place.

It is like the notes to not fry a pet in a microwave ...


RE: Still Confused
By Reclaimer77 on 4/6/2010 11:20:56 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah right. In England you can't even carry your fathers coffin if you aren't a government licensed pallbearer. Because too many people were getting hurt carrying coffins. Europeans should be the LAST to preach about personal accountability and self reliance. You people eat, breath, and sleep according to regulations.


RE: Still Confused
By EasyC on 4/8/2010 1:11:53 PM , Rating: 2
Well in Europe, the government doesn't have a vested interest in a direct competitor to Toyota...so no, it wouldn't be blown out like it is here.


RE: Still Confused
By The Raven on 4/7/2010 2:08:44 PM , Rating: 2
It wouldn't sound non-existant if that paragraph made any sense.

quote:
The researchers found that electronic faults in the idle-control systems of Audi 5000s could cause a short-term power surge that could startle drivers into hitting the gas pedal instead of the brake.


Were there electronic faults that somehow were hard wired into the drivers' brains? What does this quote even mean?

Fact is that your quote boils down to what's in the bold; driver error.


RE: Still Confused
By The Raven on 4/7/2010 4:40:43 PM , Rating: 2
Regarding the shill accusation:
I work for a Toyota subsidiary that sells materials to all major auto manufacturers. I have no allegience to Toyota except that they treat me and my co-workers fairly and with respect. My allegiance is to the American people. And if the American people want headlights and taillights, I am here for them. The job opening was just here so I gave it a shot. I have been here 2 years and have learned much about the auto industry even though I just import materials used in manufacturing the lighting fixtures and have no hand in design or whether the cars can stop or not :-P.

But any of that aside, the reason that I don't like the smell of the whole affair is that I don't like gov't in our business. Especially the feds. So though I MIGHT be slightly biased toward Toyota, that issue far outweighs any bias I might have. And I have zero bias for Audi. My dad's A4 fell apart pretty bad. I go with Honda for the most part.

But I agree with you that Toyota failed to report their findings directly to the US gov't. This is breaking the law. Is this whole thing not a circus then? No. It is a circus. To me this is like when I got a ticket for having expired tags. I was registered. But I forgot to put them on as we were going through the childbirth thing. But some a-hole saw my car parked there with tags that expired 2 months prior, and bam! I'm out $75 (if I remember correctly)
Did I break the law? Yes. Should they have honored my appeal because of the childbith. I think so.

So if they didn't report this, do you think they should have to pay the maximum penalty for some alleged neglegiance? It all smells of bad politics. Whether it is because GM is owned by the US gov't now or because Obama needs money to fund his health care plan, I don't know. (and I'd say the same thing about Bush and his war or whatever the hell) But it certainly does not seem right. And I'm sure Toyota won't fight it because of legal fees, and so it just amounts to extortion.

And I'm sorry that I pulled the 'Wii' example out on you without explaining. Nintendo voluntarily gave those sleeves out.

I hope that all clarifies some of my ranting.


RE: Still Confused
By DominionSeraph on 4/8/2010 9:05:24 AM , Rating: 2
Well, the Federal Government isn't a singular entity. Just because Congress is a bunch of clowns doesn't mean the DOT is retarded.

http://www.copypasta.info/2010/03/socialism.html


RE: Still Confused
By The Raven on 4/8/2010 10:23:18 AM , Rating: 2
Look let me just calm myself...

I am not an anarchist. (FYI that post is fallacy.)

Do you think this is not a case of the US gov't taking a swipe at Toyota (for whatever reason)?

I would think that the max penalty would be for some company who intentionally endangered people on our road ways. Not someone who showed enough concern as to try to fix the problems.

But even if you don't agree, that is fine. My opinion is that the gov't is doing TOO MUCH here. I am not calling for the head of LaHood or his department.


RE: Still Confused
By Davelo on 4/6/2010 12:21:51 PM , Rating: 2
It's not the floor mats or the pedal. That's only what Toyota wants you to believe. Fixing drive by wire systems would cost them a fortune.


RE: Still Confused
By porkpie on 4/6/2010 1:18:50 PM , Rating: 2
Your tinfoil hat is on a bit too tight, I believe. When you finish checking your lawn for black helicopters, you may want to adjust it.


RE: Still Confused
By Davelo on 4/6/2010 1:38:45 PM , Rating: 2
Toyota paid hack?


RE: Still Confused
By Wulf145 on 4/7/2010 4:19:36 AM , Rating: 2
If it is a fault in the drive by wire system, why are the only reported cases of unintended acceleration all in N. Amerika. AFAIK the drive by wire system is not N.Amerika specific.


RE: Still Confused
By Reclaimer77 on 4/5/10, Rating: -1
RE: Still Confused
By porkpie on 4/5/2010 11:35:37 PM , Rating: 5
"it's a 100% fact that those rays cannot compromise those systems."

Not your decade for factual accuracy, is it? Cosmic rays can and do cause SEUs (single event upsets) for computer equipment. They are a serious problem for airliners and satellites, which fly at altitudes where radiation is a greater hazard.

Even on the ground, SEUs are not uncommon, and result for the average computer with non-ECC memory to experience between 0.25 - 2 crashes per year, depending on elevation, memory size, and a few other factors.

The particular pattern of events makes it very unlikely that SEUs are causing Toyota's problems (if those problems are anything but a mass delusion, that is). But saying it is "100% impossible" is, of course, wildly incorrect.


RE: Still Confused
By Reclaimer77 on 4/6/10, Rating: -1
RE: Still Confused
By porkpie on 4/6/2010 1:47:29 AM , Rating: 3
I invariably find the best way to suppress illogical hysteria is with the actual facts . . . rather than by telling an equally large lie in the opposite direction.


RE: Still Confused
By DominionSeraph on 4/6/10, Rating: -1
RE: Still Confused
By The Raven on 4/6/2010 11:09:19 AM , Rating: 2
Umm... no love for any news outlet in particular here, but I am sick of hearing about the Fox bias. You really think that the others are better than Fox. I'm fine with you saying that O'Reilly is a biased righty if you will admit the opposite for Oberman. Or that Maddow is a biased lefty if you will admit the opposite for Hannity. Opinion shows aside, the news should be built on facts, and if you can't connect the dots yourself by collecting facts from various media outlets/the interwebs then...

But with regard to this story in particular, I have heard more about this from NBC than any one else. And they don't seem to like to use the word "alleged" in this case either, as if they have facts that prove everything they say.

And I'm talking about the actual nightly news here. I don't have cable/sat.


RE: Still Confused
By Reclaimer77 on 4/6/2010 12:25:42 PM , Rating: 2
I have never seen a media more in the tank for a President and Congress in my life. And people are whinning about Fox bias !??


RE: Still Confused
By DominionSeraph on 4/6/10, Rating: -1
RE: Still Confused
By Reclaimer77 on 4/6/10, Rating: 0
RE: Still Confused
By The Raven on 4/7/2010 5:24:37 PM , Rating: 1
What candidate are you talking about? And FYI Rush isn't a reporter for Fox news. Hell, he isn't even a reporter. He is a commentator/talk show host. And if you he doesn't have a free podcast at this point, I'm not listening to him.

You know what I would be scared of is a world with an unchecked liberal media?

Was it Fox that implied the Tea Party Patriots were racists? (Or that anyone that was against the health care bill for that matter) No it was NBC, CNN, and others. They took a tiny bit of bigotry and painted the whole crowd of people who want fiscal responsibility in DC with the same brush. Yeah there is no bias there. None at all. I guess if it makes you feel better.

And again, I don't like Fox more than the others. I just am saying that you can't blow off Fox and simultaniously believe you are getting the true story from the others because you assume they aren't biased. If you do that, you may as well just restrict yourself to watching another biased outlet: like Fox.

Yeah and all those people who think that you should get what you work for. Yeah they are sheeple. Not like those people who get their 'Obama money' and free health care. It must have been a tough decision for those people to decide to vote for Obama since things would be harder...I mean easier for them under his presidency.

I say the real sheeple are those that rely on the democrats or the republicans as we can all see now that both parties have been taking us all for a ride for quite sometime.

From your comment, I take it you are equating republicans to conservatives and democrats to liberals though neither are mutually exclusive.

The city where I work is largely democrat. They have always been democrats and they have been democrats since before the civil war when the democrats were the "Racist party" They never changed their ways. Was this before or after Copernicus? Was it dogma that these democrats followed believing that blacks were inferior? Yes it was. Or you can take a democratic dogma pill and tell yourself that the democrats were never like that. It is scary how much like religion that politics can be. It is not coincidence that people made fun of how Obama was treated like a god during the election.

I just realized that you are the same guy that thinks Ray LaHood is infallible and right on with his call to rape Toyota.


RE: Still Confused
By HotFoot on 4/6/2010 11:41:10 AM , Rating: 3
I've been under the impression that smaller transistors are more susceptible to these events, since less energy is required to jump states.


RE: Still Confused
By Reclaimer77 on 4/6/2010 12:08:54 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
I invariably find the best way to suppress illogical hysteria is with the actual facts . . . rather than by telling an equally large lie in the opposite direction.


Then here is a fact for you. Toyota engineers state with all confidence that they have gone to great lengths to shield the throttle-by-wire system from EFI and Cosmic rays and so forth. They don't need aviation grade shielding because cars don't fly.

Also the only known way to test for this currently is putting the system in the path of a particle accelerator and blast it with high energy molecules. Which wouldn't really be an accurate test reflecting real world conditions.


RE: Still Confused
By Davelo on 4/6/2010 12:19:27 PM , Rating: 2
There are documented examples of the problem like one where a Toyota Avalon owner who complained about his car going full throttle by itself was ignored by his dealership. He ended up driving the car to dealership at full throttle, using the transmission to keep it under control. He parked it in front of the showroom with it's engine redlined telling the dealership employees "Now do you believe me"?


RE: Still Confused
By R3T4rd on 4/7/2010 4:31:11 AM , Rating: 2
I'll have to admit, I have experienced this issue first hand. My father barrowed my Suburban in 2002-2003 and left me his 1997 Avalon. I had to pickup the mighty boss and took to the interstate. Picked up the Boss and on our way back, set the Avalon on cruise at 70MPH. At first I thought it was just the cruise kicking in to get the car into the correct speed after hitting the cruise button because there is always a 1-3 second lag but, the car kept accelerating. I hit 80MPH...90MPH and said this is not correct. I hit the brakes and the car would slow down but then the acceleration just kept on going if I released the brakes. The car was not redlining but if I remember correctly it was accelerating at about 4000-5000 RPM. Turning off the cruise also did not work. With my wife next to me and pregnate as well, I put the car in neutral turned off the car in the middle of the interstate still going around 80MPH, turned the car back on and the issue subsided.

I just thought I'd share that. I never told my dad about the incident. Never heard my dad say anything of that nature since 2002-2003 to me or my siblings as well. My wife peed her pants about the situation but I was just "Meh". Honestly, if it was her driving, she'd probably panic and call 911 like the guy in Callifornia did. That is just (I think) your typical women driver reaction. Whether it was electronic malfunction or something, I'll never know but it has never happened since. The Avalon still runs and hums perfectly today with over 280,000 miles on it. So yeah, it was odd when I first heard of the similar claims last year. I wanted to post this on other threads but thought, well it only happend once so perhaps it was just something else. But like I said, I never had my dad take the car in for an inspection therefore I will never know what exactly went wrong that day. Was it the same issue(s) as everyone is stating it to be? Was it different? I don't know.

The Toyota brand have always been very reliable for me and my family. Regardless of the current situation, I would purchase another Toyota if I needed to. But there is that deep dark thought of what did really happen that day in the back of my mind though.


RE: Still Confused
By The0ne on 4/6/2010 6:22:13 PM , Rating: 2
They could not verify the problem exists in the vehicles they used. However, Toyota has known all along the problems they had and hid them. About 3-4 weeks ago, NPR had a show with a lawyer that went through Toyota documents and found that they had indeed known about it, had meetings regarding them, made decisions to hide them and even went as far as to claim them as "cost savings" totaling in the millions. How's that for arrogance eh.


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