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Toyota executives' testimony comes off as clueless

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Toyota executives' testimony comes off as clueless

Akio Toyoda's story doesn't add up.

The president of Toyota Motor Corp., the centrally controlled behemoth founded 73 years ago by his grandfather, told a congressional committee Wednesday that he didn't know about mounting sudden-acceleration complaints with Toyota vehicles until late last year.

He also didn't know the substance of a corporate briefing paper prepared in July that touted $100 million in savings on recalls, warned about sudden acceleration complaints in Toyota and Lexus models and described a federal bureaucracy that is not "industry-friendly."

But now, faced with a global brand and P.R. fiasco, Toyoda knows with "absolute certainty" that the sudden unintended acceleration complaints tied to 34 deaths and the recall of 8.5 million vehicles worldwide cannot be attributed to electronic throttle

Really?

The assurances might be more convincing -- to Congress, to consumers, to dealers and to suppliers in the United States -- if the Japanese automaker moved sooner than earlier this month to commission an independent review of its electronic conclusions. But it didn't.

They might be more persuasive if the firm hired to do the testing, California-based Exponent Inc., didn't have ties to Toyota's legal counsel; if contacts on the issue between Toyota and U.S. regulators weren't so extensive; if Toyota's top American executive in the United States, James Lentz, hadn't testified the day before that Toyota's fixes had "not totally" fixed the problem.

Simple question, Toyoda-san: If the electronic throttle control isn't (with "absolute certainty") the problem and if the planned fixes aren't sufficient, what is?

The hearings over the past two days are remarkable for what they didn't yield -- namely, definitive answers. But we do know now how little the top executives in the most revered automaker on the planet seem to know about the circumstances surrounding the most serious threat to their corporate reputation in a generation.

To watch the hearings is to sense a lack of urgency -- the new global quality committee doesn't meet till the end of March? -- and to see a company still processing the reality of the mess it faces, however much Toyoda blames it on a "speed of expansion" that "outpaced the development and training of our people."

"I'm embarrassed for you, sir," Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said during Toyoda's testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. "I'm embarrassed for dealers. I'm embarrassed for the thousands of people who work for Toyota across the United States."

Why? Lots of reasons, the biggest of which is the simple fact that Toyota's facade of all-knowing invincibility, of being an "American company," of always putting customers first lies shattered -- all of it from the mouths of top executives, including the guy whose name is on the building.

The customer, as Toyoda and his president for North America, Yoshimi Inaba, conceded, increasingly did not come first. High-profile complaints, like that of the "possessed" '06 Lexus ES 350 driven by Rhonda Smith from Sevierville, Tenn., were summarily dismissed.

Astonishingly, her harrowing story apparently was unknown to Lentz. He didn't know the well-publicized details of Guadalupe Alberto, a 77-year-old who died in Flint when the Camry she was driving crashed into a tree -- a testament to his stunning cluelessness, pitiful internal communication, Toyota's lawyers or all three.

Over two days, Toyoda, Inaba and Lentz exposed the fiction that Toyota is an "American" company, if that is defined to mean anything more than a foreign company that employs 172,000 folks in plants, offices and dealerships around the country.

But for sales and marketing decision-making, every substantive call affecting Toyota's operations in the United States -- manufacturing, engineering, safety and recalls, communications -- is made in Japan, they confirmed, a direct contradiction to the corporate spin for, oh, the past decade.

And "Japan," to borrow Lentz's usage, failed to connect the dots on a burgeoning problem that landed its president before a congressional committee and ripped a gaping hole in Toyota's envied reputation for bulletproof quality, reliability and customer service.

Toyoda, the scion of the industrial dynasty, said the right things. He apologized. He took responsibility. He essentially admitted that ambition outstripped execution and strayed from the corporate creed that made Toyota the brand powerhouse it became.

But he didn't bring an end to the nightmare. Buried in his careful statements is red meat for trial lawyers looking to make a buck off Toyota's $30 billion-plus cash hoard and red meat for like-minded politicians trolling for contributions from trial lawyers.

More obvious is the unmistakable admission that Toyota, the gold standard of the global auto industry, allowed the arrogance of success to blind it to festering troubles within.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100225/OPINION03/2250352/1148/AUTO01/Toyota-executives--testimony-comes-off-as-clueless#ixzz0gYPgQQ3Q

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But he didn't bring an end to the nightmare. Buried in his careful statements is red meat for trial lawyers looking to make a buck off Toyota's $30 billion-plus cash hoard and red meat for like-minded politicians trolling for contributions from trial lawyers.

This is the most worrying fact. Vultures will cash on people's misery and Toyota's pain to make money for themselves.

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This is the most worrying fact. Vultures will cash on people's misery and Toyota's pain to make money for themselves.

Why is that worrying? I'd rather see American lawyers with that money than have it go to Japan.

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Why is that worrying? I'd rather see American lawyers with that money than have it go to Japan.

But this kind of mentality is hypocritical when it comes to the opinions people have about trial lawyers and high-dollar, class-action lawsuits aimed specifically to fill pockets. This changes the idea that, in business, the cultivation of honest reputations for long-term success gives way to quick success and quicker bucks in failure to become the new "American Way", or worse, the "American Dream".

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But this kind of mentality is hypocritical when it comes to the opinions people have about trial lawyers and high-dollar, class-action lawsuits aimed specifically to fill pockets. This changes the idea that, in business, the cultivation of honest reputations for long-term success gives way to quick success and quicker bucks in failure to become the new "American Way", or worse, the "American Dream".

This.

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Lawyers only get a third of the settlement. Also, there are no criminal penalties available. The only penalties are companies losing money over their gross negligence and strict liability.

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But that is the American way: act like a completely negligent jackass and you will get sued. What else do you propose as a method of ensuring companies follow the rules? Businesses exist solely to make money. That's it. So to make a business behave in a particular way, you have to make it worth their while financially.

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How many times has history proven that when you make enough money, you can get away with almost anything.

Huh? Uhhhhh, I don't know what you're talking about at all. Everyone loves a good comeuppance for the person at the top of life that everyone envies. That's the historic theme I've seen.

Did GM get away with everything when they were rich and powerful? No.

Has Exxon gotten away with everything? No.

Name a single company that has gotten away with everything. Please.

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"Toyoda-san"

classic!

But for sales and marketing decision-making, every substantive call affecting Toyota's operations in the United States -- manufacturing, engineering, safety and recalls, communications -- is made in Japan, they confirmed, a direct contradiction to the corporate spin for, oh, the past decade.

THIS. if that sentence alone doesn't make a little bit of a case for our GM bailout ..........

i so want to send and post this article to every import humping friend i have on email and FB but i know most people are still blind to this. I have been fighting with people i know, who just keep saying stuff like 'my pontiac sunfire with 150k miles on it had its transmission go out and all my brother did on his 92 camry was change oil once and drive under 55'. i am so glad some people are unloading on this because like i told an excoworker the other day (she says 'they all have recalls') i said you don't get it, its about years of lies and cover up and misleading people into believing toyota is concerned about the US and their citizens as much as they care about sucking our money out.

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Huh? Uhhhhh, I don't know what you're talking about at all. Everyone loves a good comeuppance for the person at the top of life that everyone envies. That's the historic theme I've seen.

Did GM get away with everything when they were rich and powerful? No.

Has Exxon gotten away with everything? No.

Name a single company that has gotten away with everything. Please.

You misread 'almost anything' with 'everything' back there.

Enron

Oh sure, the courts decided their fate in the end; but just ask employees, direct investors and pensioners about their losses and you get the idea. Through the course of their accounting practices and their greed, executives enjoyed themselves at the expense of the company and its investors. A select few ended up with charges, but does that matter to anyone?

Anyway, my point was tied to the previous posts where what used to be typical for a wholesome, honest means to build a company has, for so many, turned into how to make a lot of money and hope not to get caught when there have been a few legalities broken along the way.

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An old friend of mine, who used to drive numerous examples of Stuff On Wheels Balthy Loves, recently got his subaru smacked up. I just saw via FB that he's considering a Matrix. He's beyond rational thought now (brain turned to mush), but how oblivious can one be ??

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Besides the hard plasticy interiors and the soft plasticy exterior cladding, they are mediocre transportation pods with half decent room (the wagons), I suppose. But 'mediocre' comes foremost to mind. And 'overpriced'.

But the toyoyo thing is beyond comprehension, IMO. He's an idiot.

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I could comprehend a Venza, at least it has not so bad interior and size comparable to the Bubaru, but Matrix???

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Besides the hard plasticy interiors and the soft plasticy exterior cladding, they are mediocre transportation pods with half decent room (the wagons), I suppose. But 'mediocre' comes foremost to mind. And 'overpriced'.

But the toyoyo thing is beyond comprehension, IMO. He's an idiot.

That's an interesting transition. Around here, a Subaru almost seems to be a cultural thing; people with love for the great outdoors tend to drive them a lot. If they would go to anything from a Subaru, it tends to be a compact pickup. IMHO, going from almost any Subaru to a Matrix, for what ever reasoning, seems like a serious downgrade.

Oh well, to each their own.

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And the primary criteria for getting the Soobaroo to begin with was the AWD (lotsa snow where he is)- is the matrix even available with AWD ?? Regardless, how people are AT LEAST taking a 'wait-n-see' attitude WRT toyoyo for a year or so, even if you are still a 'believer', I cannot understand.

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How many times has history proven that when you make enough money, you can get away with almost anything.

every central bank, until it collapses it's own market. but that's discussion for another "room"

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You misread 'almost anything' with 'everything' back there.

Enron

Oh sure, the courts decided their fate in the end; but just ask employees, direct investors and pensioners about their losses and you get the idea. Through the course of their accounting practices and their greed, executives enjoyed themselves at the expense of the company and its investors. A select few ended up with charges, but does that matter to anyone?

Anyway, my point was tied to the previous posts where what used to be typical for a wholesome, honest means to build a company has, for so many, turned into how to make a lot of money and hope not to get caught when there have been a few legalities broken along the way.

Again, where has any company been all "wholesome" and wonderful? The purpose of a business is to make money; that is their goal. Everything else is secondary or tertiary.

If I were to hypothesize, I'd suggest that the rash of corporate scandals isn't anything new, just that the internet and other technology makes it easier for scandals to leak, go public, and get lots of media coverage.

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And the primary criteria for getting the Soobaroo to begin with was the AWD (lotsa snow where he is)- is the matrix even available with AWD ?? Regardless, how people are AT LEAST taking a 'wait-n-see' attitude WRT toyoyo for a year or so, even if you are still a 'believer', I cannot understand.

Actually, yes, the Matrix and the Vibe were both available with AWD.

Again, where has any company been all "wholesome" and wonderful? The purpose of a business is to make money; that is their goal. Everything else is secondary or tertiary.

If I were to hypothesize, I'd suggest that the rash of corporate scandals isn't anything new, just that the internet and other technology makes it easier for scandals to leak, go public, and get lots of media coverage.

Every place of business I've worked with, for or around has its purpose to make money achieved completely without pushing any legal boundary or putting another person or business in jeopardy. Attaining success isn't always through cut-throat or self-righteous means. Some just take the temptation of greed or their vision a little too far. Of course it's nothing new; however, we only know about who isn't getting away with it. It's not like everyone is getting caught.

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what Toyota has done that makes it different from ALL other seemingly similar recalls or manufacture defects, is the TOYOTA DEFECTS HAVE BEEN DELIBERATELY ENGINEERED INTO ALL THEIR PRODUCTS BY COMPARTMENTALIZATION OF COMPONENTS TO REDUCE THE MANUFACTURE COST.

Now, what I am saying (and has become SO OBVIOUS to anyone with half a brain) is that Toyota embarked upon a company wide effort to reduce manufacture costs by decreasing the standards of the component requirements from suppliers which they bought to use in construction of ALL Toyota Models.

You CANNOT blame the suppliers, as Toyota set the performance standards they required for each component, the COMBINED EFFECT is where Toyota screwed up, in that they Failed to calculate the combined reliability of the over 180 componets which they reduced the cost of by 30%.

ANY IDIOT SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT BY DOING THAT, THE PERFORMANCE ABILITY OF THE ENTIRE CONSTRUCTION WAS COMPROMISED, FROM THE ORIGINAL DESIGN.

That is the REASON why Toyota cannot find a solution to these problems....

They are the result of compartmentalized 30% cost reductions in 180 components.

In other words, the ORIGINAL DESIGN INTENT has been destroyed. What has resulted is an entirely DIFFERENT PRODUCT from what was the Design Intent.

Then, and this is where Toyota crossed the line into CRIMINAL ACTION...they chose to "Cover Up" the failures of these less than perfect component combination's, in order to INCREASE their Profits, and more they LIED about it for Years KNOWING full well that the products (cars & trucks) did NOT meet the Original DESIGN STANDARDS.

TOYOTA is LIABLE for Negligence at least and Manslaughter for sure.

Dissolve the Company, split the proceeds among the employees & buyers of their product, confiscate the cars & trucks and send them ALL to the crusher.

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icon14.gif

MRDETROITMETAL! icon14.gif

only I don't believe the U.S. can "Dissolve the Company"

but maybe

IMPOUND ALL U.S. ASSETS?

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