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What do you do if you are a Japanese company and you have an American president for your American motor sales division? If you are Toyota, what happens first is you recall over 7 million vehicles, then, as if things couldn’t get worse, you post a loss of over 1 billion dollars due to repair costs, and finally, your stock, which has been in the dumps since 2007, boasts a clear 2-point thrashing on the stock market.

All this corporate demolition isn’t over yet. Because of trust issues, Toyota will be dealing with poor sales and customer rage for well over the next decade. Estimates postulate that so far, Toyota has lost 2.47 billion dollars (that’s billion with a capital B) because of the recall, and those estimates are considered conservative at this point. If you are a Japanese company with an American president, you might think about asking him to commit Seppuku.

What Happened

In August of 2009, four people were killed while in a Lexus ES 350. Investigators concluded that some dip$h! at the Toyota factory forgot to secure the floor mats in the correct fashion, causing the accelerator pedal to stick in the “full open” position. Investigators also noted that during the crash, the brakes of the car were fully applied several times, an attempt was made to turn the ignition off, and all four passengers had filled their pants with $h!.

First Recall

At the conclusion of the investigation, California courts decided in favor of the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration that over 3.8 million cars were affected by the faulty floor mats. This ruling was furiously denied by Toyota, and several attempts were made to block any recalls. This, of course had the affect of angering the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration to no end, causing them to tell Toyota that “yes this recall is 3.8 million…but we aren't done yet.”

Yet another investigation, unbeknownst to Toyota, was underway. This time, the Sand Diego County Sheriff’s department, who was investigating customer complaints involving the same ES 350 Lexus model, found that simply removing the floor mats was not an effective solution to the issue.

In the meantime, Toyota attempted to dodge the whole issue by releasing a statement that blamed the accelerator problem solely on the unsecured floor mats. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration wasn’t having any of this and also released a statement:

This matter is not closed until Toyota has effectively addressed the defect their letter was inaccurate and misleading…

— The rape of Toyota continued…

Total Recall

For a while, people thought they were safe and secure in their Toyotas. Things seemed to be getting back to normal for the automotive giant, but behind the scenes, several thousand cases of “sudden vehicle acceleration” were being re-opened and re-considered. As of January 2010, more than 2000 cases have been found involving Toyota vehicles have been discovered and the number is growing daily.

Toyota, still struggling, announced in November of 2009 that there were several work-arounds for the problem, but eventually had to cave in and issue an apology along with newly designed floor mats that were supposedly safer than the older mats. This would have been a great way to deal with the recall but for the fact that the real reason the cars accelerators stuck was because of the pedal mechanism and not the floor mats to begin with.

What concerns me is that this recall still doesn't get to the root cause of the non-floor mat sudden acceleration cases

—ABC news

Eventually, it came to light that Toyota was snowballing the public because they just didn’t have enough parts to fix the accelerator problem. By telling everybody that the floor mats were the root cause, they gave themselves enough time to manufacture shims and spring reinforcements that should take care of the problem, but as of this writing, dealers and mechanics still do not have the parts. Their original press release:

The question of unintended acceleration involving Toyota and Lexus vehicles has been repeatedly and thoroughly investigated by NHTSA, without any finding of defect other than the risk from an unsecured or incompatible driver’s floor mat

Was amended to explain that it was not the floor mats at all:

The condition is rare and does not occur suddenly. It can occur when the pedal mechanism becomes worn and, in certain conditions, the accelerator pedal may become harder to depress, slower to return or, in the worst case, stuck in a partially depressed position

Because of the newer investigations, the original recall of 3.8 million grew to just over 7 million cars and the total keeps growing.

With a list like this, Toyota would be better off giving out a list of their models that aren’t up for recall. This list would be longer and extend as far back as 1999 but because Toyota doesn’t have data for models made before 2005, they aren't releasing that information. At least that’s their story, and they are sticking to it. Others disagree, including Christopher Santucci, former employee of Toyota, who testified that Toyota has been receiving complaints about their accelerator mechanism at least as far back as 2003...

Recalled Vehicles (so far)

* 2005-2010 Toyota Tacoma

* 2009-2010 Toyota Venza

* 2004-2009 Toyota Prius

* 2009–2010 Toyota RAV4

* 2009–2010 Toyota Corolla

* 2009–2010 Toyota Matrix

* 2005–2010 Toyota Avalon

* 2007–2010 Toyota Camry

* 2008-2010 Toyota Highlander

* 2007–2010 Toyota Tundra

* 2008–2010 Toyota Sequoia

And the following European models:

* 2005–2009 Toyota Aygo

* 2008–2009 Toyota iQ

* 2005–2009 Toyota Yaris

* 2006–2010 Toyota Auris

* 2006–2009 Toyota Corolla

* 2009–2010 Toyota Verso

* 2008–2009 Toyota Avensis

* 2005-2009 Toyota Rav4

Al Gore...We Has A Problem

On Tuesday February 1st, Steve Wozniac appeared on CNN to tell the world that Toyata's great green hope, the Prius hybrid, also had a problem but instead of having a glitch with the gas pedal, the brakes don't work either. A one second delay after applying the brake would account for an extra 100 feet of forward progress which -in turn- would account for even more lulz for Toyota owners and potential lolsuits. As of writing, Toyota has yet to officially recall the Prius, so watch your arse crossing the street in your local hipster neighbourhood.

What They Aren’t Telling You

Toyota was already under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and has been since 2004. Only because 16 people have died on American highways is this even being discussed. Toyota has constantly hid the facts from their customers and their sales representatives in a ditch effort to avoid total bankruptcy during the current economy.

Besides being under investigation for over six years, there are at least four class action lawsuits brought forth by both Canadian and American legal firms and the complaints extend back to the 1990s. experts believe that applying R-type stickers to the bumpers may decrease the accelerator problems…

Experts seem to think that the real problem lies in the new ignition system that many Toyotas employ. The in-dashboard ignition button (starting the car involves inserting a key and then pushing a button located on the dashboard) may have issues with the onboard computer being harmed by electromagnetism, but at this point nobody knows…except Toyota, and they are keeping mum about the issue. Suffice it to say, it would be a good idea not to expose your Camry to any sort of electrical activity…unless you want to hit a retaining wall at 120 miles an hour while $h!ting your drawers.

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