Toyota – Bad Manufacturing or Just Bad Publicity? (3/16/10)

President Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel once said, "You never let a serious crisis go to waste."  Unfortunately, I think a lot of Toyota owners have taken that advice to heart.

Consider this:  In 2008, according to an Associated Press analysis of unverified complaints received by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, eight complaints were filed nationwide for speed control problems with the Prius.  In 2009, only 74.  But since January 1 of this year 272 complaints have been filed. 

Do you think Toyota suddenly forgot how to make safe cars, or that some people are trying to take advantage of a good crisis? 

U.S. News and World Report printed a claim that the driver of an alleged runaway Toyota Prius in San Diego, "filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and now has over $700,000 in debt."  I don't know if that's true, but if it is, it would certainly give him a motive to fake an accelerator problem. 

Richard Schmidt, the author of a well-known study on unintended acceleration, noted that in almost all reported cases since the ‘80s it was not a vehicle malfunction but driver error that caused the acceleration.  But we live in a society where we need to blame someone else for our failures. 

I suspect Toyota may be more the victim of bad publicity than it is of bad manufacturing. 

Do you have any thoughts on this?  Call us and let us know.


I'm Bill Lamb…and that's my Point of View.