Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Defending Toyota

Last week four governors sent a letter to Congress in a public display of support for embattled automaker Toyota.  From Detroit News
Four governors strongly defended Toyota Motor Corp.'s safety record and suggested the Obama administration has a "conflict of interest" because of its majority stake in General Motors Co.

The letter, from Kentucky Gov. Steven Beshear, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, was the first public defense of the Japanese automaker from prominent U.S. politicians after a series of recalls of 9 million vehicles worldwide.

All four states have close ties to Toyota and operations in their states. They called the company a "valuable friend." All are Republicans except Beshear, a Democrat.

The embattled automaker has significant support among the many states were it has operations, but they have been largely silent during the crisis.

"Toyota has unquestionably placed the safety of its customers above its profits," the letter said. "Toyota has not laid off a single employee, despite the impact these concerns have had on sales."

The letter didn't address that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had to compel Toyota to halt the sale of 8 models on Jan. 26 as the automaker sought a fix for reports of sticky pedals. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said last week that "every step of the way" NHTSA had to prod Toyota into acting.

The letter suggested that because the Treasury Department has rescued General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group with $65 billion in bailouts, the Obama administration can't be fair in handling Toyota's safety issues. The U.S. government owns 61 percent of GM and 10 percent of Chrysler.

"Despite the federal government's obvious conflict of interest because of its huge financial stake in some of Toyota's competitors ... it has spoken out against Toyota, including statements U.S. government officials have later been forced to retract."

That was a reference to LaHood's comment at a House hearing last week urging people to "stop driving" recalled Toyota vehicles -- a comment that prompted anger from dealers and a sharp selloff in the stock. He later said that he had misspoken.
Download a copy of the letter here (pdf).

West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III, a Democrat, sent his own letter of support this week.

Brian Johnson at Big Government takes it up a notch today in a piece entitled "Toyota and the Union-Backed Governmet-Led Witch Hunt."  Here's a sample:
One might think this is the first auto recall in decades from the way government officials and Congressional Committees have pounced on Toyota. However, as recent as last month, Honda announced a recall of 646,000 Fit models (or Jazz in some markets) due to a faulty master switch that could allow water to enter the electrical components resulting in fires. Ford, less than one year ago, was forced to recall more than 4 million cars based on 550 vehicle fires. The recall concerned cruise-control deactivation switches that were installed in 16 million Fords. Part of the recall included nearly 1.1 million 1995-2003 Ford Windstar family van models.

There was no government outcry and no demand for Congressional hearings over these recent recalls. So why has Toyota suddenly become the target of a government-led witch hunt?
Read the whole thing.

1 comment:

  1. Has anyone considered the possibility of sabotage on the assembly line?