Thursday, February 10, 2011

Toyota Was Innocent

Ten months after the government started an investigation into Toyota and its "faulty" electronic throttle controls and computer systems, the government has been forced to admit they found nothing wrong with any of Toyota's electronic systems.  After being frog-marched in front of Congress, having its reputation destroyed by the U.S. Government, having the the careers and lives of  numerous individuals in upper management destroyed - Toyota has finally been found "not-guilty."

The initial problems with Toyota and the U.S. Government began in 2009 with a recall of floor mats that were suspected of jamming accelerator pedals leading to "unintended" and "uncontrollable" acceleration of vehicles - resulting in accidents.  Toyota issued a recall for floor mats but the crashes due to unintended acceleration continued sporadically around the country.  The number of these incidents seemed to increase dramatically once the problem hit the national news.

The federal government fined Toyota $48.8 million for its handling of the recalls, accusing Toyota of an intentional coverup or delay which endangered the public.  After being forced to recall hundred of thousands of vehicles it turns out that there was nothing wrong with them.  NASA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performed numerous tests on Toyota vehicles.  Scientists went through 280,000 lines of computer code looking for potential problems and conducted other tests including bombarding the electronic components with electromagnetic radiation see if they would fail.  None did.

Government researchers and scientists were unable to replicate the reported conditions in 10 months of testing.  According to the NHTSA the most likely cause of the problem was "pedal misapplication" - meaning a driver hit the gas when they thought they were hitting the brake.  Of the 3000 reports of unintended acceleration involving Toyota vehicles in the last decade, only five have been verified by the NHTSA.

Do we really have that many incompetent drivers in this country, that 3000 people can't figure out which pedal is used for what?  Or is this another example of trial lawyers enticing people to possibly fabricate a story for the prospect of financial gain?  Or is this a made-up crisis conveniently created when two automobile manufacturers - partially owned by the U.S. Government - were seeing continued losses?  Whatever the reason behind the huge number of false claims and accusations, the fact remains that Toyota's reputation has been damaged, they have paid millions in fines, and have lost millions (billions?) more in potential future vehicle sales.  All of this is as a result of the U.S. Government jumping to conclusions and taking the word of Prius drivers over the word of its best scientists.

Turns out the free market works after all.   Toyota and every other company out there have plenty of motivation to manufacture safe and reliable products without government threats.  If Toyota or any other company fails to make safe products, the market alone will provide the punishment needed.  In this case, a private business was nearly destroyed by false accusations from the U.S. Government.

<< I do not own any Lexus or Toyota vehicle or know anyone who works for the company. >>

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