Tag Archive | "Toyota Motor Corp."

Toyota Recalling all 2000 to 2003 Tundras


In November, Toyota Motor Corp. recalled 110,000 Tundras sold in 20 cold-weather states, saying exposure to heavy road salt could cause the corrosion. Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons was unable to say how many additional vehicles would be involved, MSNBC reported.

Toyota told its U.S. dealers in a notice on Tuesday that it would expand the recall to Tundras sold in all 50 U.S. states. Reuters reviewed a copy of the notice, which Lyons confirmed had been sent to the company’s U.S. dealers.

Toyota said the rear cross-member of the frame of the Tundra could corrode in some cases, and that could cause loss of rear brake circuits, making it harder for drivers to stop.

In “the worst case,” the fuel tank may drop to the ground and could be separated from the vehicle, potentially causing a crash or fire, the company said in its notice to dealers.

This repair campaign adds to several safety problems with which Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, is grappling.

Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide for mechanical problems with its accelerator assembly that can cause sticking and for the risk that floor mats could trap an accelerator.

In February, Toyota recalled nearly 500,000 hybrids, including its top-selling Prius, because of braking problems.

The Tundra, which Toyota redesigned in 2007, represents the Japanese automaker’s attempt to crack a market for full-size work trucks that has been dominated by Ford Motor Co, General Motors Co and Chrysler.

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Toyota Slams ABC Report on Pedals


Toyota Motor Corp. has criticized ABC News, saying the broadcaster “staged” part of a report that purported to show electronic problems could cause Toyota vehicles to accelerate unexpectedly, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The attack on ABC was part of what the Japanese car maker has called a broader push to rebut critics and win support for its view that the electronics in its vehicles are not defective.

At a news conference, engineering consultants hired by Toyota also showed they are able to cause vehicles made by three other auto makers to rev suddenly by making the same electronic modifications used by a college professor who was the subject of the ABC report, and who testified before Congress last month.

David W. Gilbert of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale has said he found a way to make Toyotas surge by causing a short in the wires that carry signals from the gas pedal to the engine computer, and can do it in such a way that the vehicle’s diagnostic system doesn’t notice a fault in the circuit. According to Gilbert, that suggests sudden acceleration could be caused by electrical problems. Toyota has blamed floor mats and stick pedals for the problems.

On Feb. 22, ABC News aired a report on Gilbert’s findings. In it, a Toyota Avalon sedan driven by investigative reporter Brian Ross is shown traveling about 20 miles per hour, and when Gilbert causes a short in the electronics, the engine suddenly revs and the vehicle speeds up.

The original report included a shot of the car’s tachometer needle racing up to more than 6,000 revolutions per minute, near the safe limit of the engine’s design. At its news conference, Toyota presented a still frame from the video that showed dashboard lights indicating the car was in park, the speedometer was at zero and the seat belts weren’t buckled.

“They staged it when the car was sitting still,” Toyota spokesman John Hanson said.

The discrepancies in the clip were noted by gawker.com, a media website, and on Friday ABC replaced that part of the video on its website. The new clip shows a shaky video of a tachometer surging inside a moving vehicle, though it doesn’t reach 6,000 rpm.

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Toyota Secretive on 'Black Box' Data


Toyota has for years blocked access to data stored in devices similar to airline “black boxes” that could explain crashes blamed on sudden unintended acceleration, according to an Associated Press review of lawsuits nationwide and interviews with auto crash experts.

The AP investigation found that Toyota has been inconsistent — and sometimes even contradictory — in revealing exactly what the devices record and don’t record, including critical data about whether the brake or accelerator pedals were depressed at the time of a crash.

By contrast, most other automakers routinely allow much more open access to information from their event data recorders, commonly known as EDRs.

AP also found that Toyota:

  • Has frequently refused to provide key information sought by crash victims and survivors.
  • Uses proprietary software in its EDRs. Until this week, there was only a single laptop in the U.S. containing the software needed to read the data following a crash.
  • In some lawsuits, when pressed to provide recorder information Toyota either settled or provided printouts with the key columns blank.

Toyota’s “black box” information is emerging as a critical legal issue amid the recall of 8 million vehicles by the world’s largest automaker. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said this week that 52 people have died in crashes linked to accelerator problems, triggering an avalanche of lawsuits.

When Toyota was asked by the AP to explain what exactly its recorders do collect, a company statement said Thursday that the devices record data from five seconds before until two seconds after an air bag is deployed in a crash.

The statement said information is captured about vehicle speed, the accelerator’s angle, gear shift position, whether the seat belt was used and the angle of the driver’s seat.

There was no initial mention of brakes — a key point in the sudden acceleration problem. When AP went back to Toyota to ask specifically about brake information, Toyota responded that its EDRs do, in fact, record “data on the brake’s position and the antilock brake system.”

But that does not square with information obtained by attorneys in a deadly crash last year in Southlake, Texas, and in a 2004 accident in Indiana that killed an elderly woman.

In the Texas crash, where four people died when their 2008 Avalon ripped through a fence, hit a tree and flipped into an icy pond, an EDR readout obtained by police listed as “off” any information on acceleration or braking.

In the 2004 crash in Evansville, Ind., that killed 77-year-old Juanita Grossman, attorneys for her family say a Toyota technician traveled from the company’s U.S. headquarters in Torrance, Calif., to examine her 2003 Camry.

Before she died, the 5-foot-2, 125-pound woman told relatives she was practically standing with both feet on the brake pedal but could not stop the car from slamming into a building. Records confirm that emergency personnel found Grossman with both feet on the brake pedal.

A Toyota representative told the family’s attorneys there was “no sensor that would have preserved information regarding the accelerator and brake positions at the time of impact,” according to a summary of the case provided by Safety Research & Strategies Inc., a Rehoboth, Mass.-based company that does vehicle safety research for attorneys, engineers, government and others.

“Because the EDR system is an experimental device and is neither intended, nor reliable, for accident reconstruction, Toyota’s policy is to download data only at the direction of law enforcement, NHTSA or a court order,” the Toyota statement said.

Last week, Toyota acknowledged it has only a single laptop available in the U.S. to download its data recorder information because it is still a prototype, despite being in use since 2001 in Toyota vehicles. Three other laptops capable of reading the devices were delivered this week to NHTSA for training on their use, Toyota said, and 150 more will be brought to the U.S. for commercial use by the end of April.

By contrast, acceptance and distribution of data recorder technology by other automakers is commonplace.

The AP review of lawsuits around the country found many in which Toyota was accused of refusing to reveal EDR and other data, and not just in sudden acceleration cases.

Some crash experts say Toyota shouldn’t bear too much criticism for failing to capture large amounts or specific kinds of data, because EDR systems were initially built for air bag deployment and not necessarily to reconstruct wrecks.

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Toyota Holds Rally with Workers, Dealers


TOYOTA, Japan – Toyota President Akio Toyoda urged thousands of his employees today to work toward a new start and win back customer trust following safety lapses that have battered the world’s biggest carmaker, The Detroit News reported.

“Let’s go with high spirits, have fun and be confident while staying humble,” Toyoda, choking up and wearing a gray workman’s jacket, told 2,000 workers packed into the company’s headquarters. “We are making a start today.”

His address, billed as “An Urgent Meeting for All Toyota — Toward a New Beginning for Toyota,” was also watched via live video by 7,000 workers at company plants. Representatives of suppliers and dealers also attended the event in the Japanese city named after the automaker.

Toyoda returned to Japan earlier this week after being grilled by U.S. lawmakers in a congressional hearing on the spate of quality lapses that include braking problems and sticking gas pedals. The problems have resulted in global recalls of 8.5 million vehicles, 6 million of them in the U.S.

Other executives who appeared before congressional hearings on Toyota’s recalls also attended Friday’s event.

The head of Toyota’s North American sales unit, Jim Lentz, assured the crowd the company was working hard to restore customer trust. He urged all to be prepared for “a long road ahead” of harsh criticism.

U.S. transport regulators have linked 52 deaths to crashes allegedly caused by sudden, unintended acceleration in Toyota cars.

An executive vice president, Takeshi Uchiyamada, said the Toyota brand was in “a serious crisis,” acknowledging the company must improve monitoring of consumer complaints and respond more quickly during crises.

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Toyota Owners File 60 Complaints After Recall Fixes


More than 60 owners have complained of unintended acceleration in their Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles after dealer repairs under the automaker’s recalls, Bloomberg reported.

“We are determined to get to the bottom of this,” David Strickland, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said in e-mailed statement yesterday. NHTSA had reported 10 such complaints a day earlier.

The agency questioned whether Toyota has fixed the defects that caused unintended acceleration. The Toyota City, Japan- based automaker, the world’s largest, has recalled about 8 million vehicles worldwide to reshape and replace gas pedals.

“If it appears that a remedy provided by Toyota is not addressing the problem it was intended to fix, NHTSA has the authority to order Toyota to provide a different solution,” the agency said in its e-mailed statement.

Toyota started interviewing vehicle owners soon after receiving the complaints on repaired cars from NHTSA, the carmaker said in an e-mailed statement.

“Although most of these reports have yet to be verified, Toyota has been and remains committed to investigating all reported incidents of sudden acceleration in its vehicles quickly,” the company said.

Lawmakers asked Toyota to provide more information about tests it commissioned on whether the defect stemmed from an electronics glitch. Toyota has said a study found that the electronic throttle-control systems performed as designed.

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Edmunds.com: Toyota's Generous Incentives Ignite Online Interest


SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Edmunds.com believes Toyota’s announcements of zero-percent financing and special lease deals are being very well received because of a sharp rise in purchase intent by site visitors, Auto Remarketing reported.

Officials indicated that the incentive offerings generated nearly a 40-percent spike in purchase interest when measured over a 48-hour period.

Comparing recent history, the increase is significant. In January, Edmunds.com said Toyota’s purchase intent averaged a little more than 13 percent and then fell to as low as 9.7 percent because of recall announcements.
On Monday, site officials found that Toyota purchase intent had recovered to 13 percent. On Tuesday when the incentives program was revealed, they spotted that Toyota purchase intent soared to 18 percent — a 14-month high on Edmunds.com.

Apparently, slightly later announcements of zero-percent financing by Chrysler and General Motors didn’t have the same effect, according to executives. 

In fact, Edmunds.com indicated that Chrysler purchase intent decreased from 3.3 percent to 2.9 percent, and GM purchase intent rose just slightly from 12.6 percent to 12.7 percent.

“Because of the Toyota recall, people have been closely watching the company’s moves, and many were ready to take action upon hearing the announcement of this highly anticipated incentives program,” explained Edmunds.com senior analyst David Tompkins.

“Chrysler and GM didn’t get quite as much attention for two main reasons: historically — such as in the Keep America Rolling campaign in 2001 — followers never get the same level of attention that the initiators do, and, second, this type of announcement is far more rare for Toyota,” Tompkins continued.

George Kang, another senior analyst at Edmunds.com, also offered his perspective on the attention the Toyota incentives sparked.

“The Toyota recall saga allowed other automakers to snag some market share, and now Toyota wants it back,” Kang interjected.

“Despite their ongoing challenges, the company still has plenty of brand strength and consumer confidence,” Kang added.

Edmunds.com pointed out that purchase intent measures actual buyer interest reflected by pricing research, vehicle configuration and other focused steps. Officials maintain that purchase intent has a strong correlation to sales.

They went on to note that automaker purchase intent reflects share of total Edmunds.com traffic engaged in purchase intent activity, while model-level data reflects share of Edmunds.com traffic engaged in purchase intent activity within the indicated model’s segment.

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