Toyota Bragged it Saved $100M in Floor Mat Recall, Now 34 Dead
February 22, 2010
(ChattahBox)—Internal Toyota documents obtained by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, reveal that the automaker boasted about saving more than $100 million, when it convinced federal safety regulators that only a limited recall of floor mats was required to address the lethal accelerator problems. After successfully limiting the recall of Toyota vehicles with sticky gas pedal problems, Yoshimi Inaba, chairman and CEO of Toyota Motors Sales U.S.A., traveled to Washington last August, where he made a presentation entitled “Wins for Toyota” that included the $100 million savings. But their savings at the expense of human lives did not last for long. The floor mat recall did not fix the sticky gas pedal problem and while Toyota officials congratulated themselves on a “win,” hundreds of drivers experienced accidents, which included 34 fatalities.
Toyota released a statement claiming that it always puts customer safety first:
“Our first priority is the safety of our customers and to conclude otherwise on the basis of one internal presentation is wrong,” the company said in a prepared statement. “Our values have always been to put the customer first and ensure the highest levels of safety and quality.”
Since the first floor mat recall, Toyota was forced to recall about 8 million vehicles due to problems of sudden acceleration. This time the Japanese automaker declared that the problem was with the gas pedal and it delivered parts to dealerships to repair the sticky gas pedal. Toyota has continued to insist that the problem is not with the vehicle’s computer. But the automaker recently announced that it would be providing a brake-override software fix on 2007 through 2010 models of the Toyota Camry, Avalon, Lexus ES and IS models. The software override will become standard on future Toyota vehicles, but the company is refusing to make it available to customers that are covered under previous recalls.
In addition to the new gas pedal recall, Toyota recalled more than 400,000 hybrid vehicles, including the Prius, for faulty brake systems that stopped working momentarily when driving on slick or uneven surfaces.
Congress plans to reconvene the hearings on Toyota’s handling of safety problems on Tuesday.