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New Quotes from Autoextremist 2/3/2010

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February 3, 2010

The New York Times. It's good to see that The Toyota Times, aka The New York Times is comfortable, as always, in its role as the official apologist house organ of Toyota. The last bastion of Toyota=Good, Detroit=Bad cheerleading in the media has been hard at it again with a series of sugar-coated stories underselling the seriousness and scope of the Toyota recall issue, not to mention being woefully late with its coverage of the story in its entirety. You don't even have to read between the lines - the blatantly biased reporting by one so-called journalist in particular speaks for itself - to see that The Times views this as a mere blip on Toyota's radar screen and that it's only a matter of time before Toyota returns to its rightful place as the unquestioned global leader of the automobile industry and everything that's good and right and green with the world. We'll see about that.

Toyota. By not getting out front of this story you have managed to blow it up real good to the point that your reputation will be in the dumper for years. Now the chorus of "what did they know and when did they know it" is growing louder by the day, and your turn in the barrel in Washington, D.C., is sure to be embarrassing and excruciatingly painful. And oh, by the way, what if there is something wrong with your "drive by wire" electronic systems? Because something tells us that this "fix" is a band-aid designed to appease people and take the steam out of the hysteria. What if there is a "ghost in the machine" that you can't detect, let alone predict? Oh, we forgot, there are always "sun spots," right? No, this isn't going away anytime soon, as much as you - and The New York Times - want it to.

Toyota. From the "Oh, $h!" File comes word that just when Toyota's True Believers think they'll skate through this unpleasant recall business in a few months and go back to being the Jolly Green Global Auto Juggernaut, the next wave of negative stories and confirmed reports of "incidents" is going to hit, and with a vengeance. This time the focus will be on the Holy Motoring Grail of the Green Intelligentsia - the Toyota Prius - which has escaped mention in this mess, until now, that is. We first heard of reports of unintended acceleration with these cars coming from the Pacific Northwest over two years ago. There's more coming, folks. A giant heaping steaming bowl of Not Good for Toyota.

Toyota. From the "Uh-Oh, We're Busted" File comes word that the roof is starting to cave in on Toyota for real when it comes to "incidents" being reported with the Prius. Apple computers co-founder Steve Wozniak told ABC's Brian Ross last night that he believes the problem with his Toyota Prius was not the gas pedal, but software, and that he had been trying to get the attention of Toyota and the government's NHTSA for several months without success. Wozniak told Ross that when he uses the cruise control on his 2010 Prius, the car sometimes goes into an "unlimited speed up." "I tap the cruise control lever to increase the speed and it basically goes into an unlimited speed up," said Wozniak. "If I hit the brake it disables my cruise control and it goes back to normal." Wozniak went on to tell ABC's Ross that the random acceleration on his Prius can be brought under control by brake and because he has a radar system that regulates his distance from other cars and forces the car to slow down if it gets too close to another vehicle. "But since my foot never touches the pedal," said Wozniak, "[the problem] cannot be a sticky accelerator pedal. There might be some bad software in there." Wozniak also said that he had been trying to get through to Toyota and NHTSA for at least two months without success. He said he got a "runaround" from NHTSA, and that he couldn't get past lower-level people at Toyota. "They don't see that this might be something important," said Wozniak. Oops. CNET first reported that Wozniak told a crowd at an event in San Francisco on Monday afternoon that he had a "very scary" problem with his Prius and that he'd been trying to inform Toyota and NHTSA for several months that the issue was software. "Toyota has this accelerator problem that we've all heard about," said Wozniak. "I have many models of Prius that got recalled, but I have a new model that didn't get recalled. This new model has an accelerator that goes wild but only certain conditions of cruise control. And I can repeat it over and over and over again – safely." "This is software," said Wozniak. "It's not a bad accelerator pedal. It's very scary, but luckily for me I can hit the brakes." When ABC News asked Toyota for a response to Wozniak's claim, a spokesperson for the company insisted that random acceleration is not caused by electronics. Uh, whatever you say, guys. Here's a tip for Toyota: You better go into full "Duck and Cover" mode because the $h! storm has only just begun.

James P. Womack. The Toyota author/aficionado/homer tells The New York Times (of course) that, “People forget about a lot of things, betting against Toyota has been a good way to lose money.” Oh, really? And that's our AE Quote of the Week, Part I.

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