Toyota Prius? Or ‘Toyota, pry us out of this wreck!’?

From abcNEWS:

In his first public comment about the massive safety crisis surrounding his company, the President and CEO of Toyota apologized to his customers for causing them so much worry.

“I am deeply sorry,” said Akio Toyoda in a brief interview with the Japanese network NHK as he left his hotel in Davos, Switzerland. After the interview he was seen leaving in a black Audi.

(emphasis mine)


Original DVD cover

Toyoda had been attending the economic conference with other corporate and government leaders this week, while his deputies struggled to quell a consumer rebellion triggered by the recall of nine million cars worldwide.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Toyota Motor Corp. launched a public relations blitz Sunday intended to rebuild its public image amid massive recalls and reports that several models of its cars and trucks could accelerate uncontrollably.

The company, which this weekend ran full-page ads in major newspapers including The Times, said it would announce this morning a plan to fix the vehicles. A top executive was slated to appear on television to discuss the recalls.

The moves to repair Toyota’s once-stellar reputation came as federal officials said Sunday that they had opened an investigation into an Indiana manufacturer that sold accelerators to Toyota and other automakers.

…snip…

Key to the company’s public relations effort is an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show by Jim Lentz, Toyota’s head of U.S. sales, slated for this morning. Lentz is scheduled to talk about Toyota’s decision to recall eight models of cars and trucks and temporarily stop sales and production of vehicles in those lines.

…snip…

In its print ads, which ran Sunday in 20 newspapers, Toyota explained its decision to halt production of cars that might have the acceleration problem. The black-and-white ads feature a large image of a “pause” button like those used in DVD players and online media. “A temporary pause,” the ad says in large print. “To put you first.”

But public relations professionals said Toyota waited too long to make its case.

“Up until now, I think they have done everything wrong,” said Barbara Casey, a Los Angeles public relations practitioner who specializes in handling business crises.

Toyota has so far failed to defend itself in the court of public opinion, said Casey, chief executive of Casey & Sayre. “They may have been in shock, but they looked completely unprepared. They needed to get out in front of this when the first accelerations happened.”

…snip…

The company’s sudden-acceleration problem gained widespread attention in August, when a Lexus ES 350 driven by off-duty California Highway Patrol officer Mark Saylor sped out of control and crashed near San Diego, killing him and his family.

After that crash, Toyota initiated a series of recalls related to sudden acceleration. The scope of the recalls has grown to 9 million vehicles worldwide.

Last week Toyota ordered its dealers to stop selling the eight models that it says have the accelerator problem.

Over the weekend, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration posted a document on its website indicating that it had begun a formal investigation into CTS Corp., the Elkhart, Ind., company that makes the pedals Toyota has said are defective.

The latest federal investigation, which officially launched Tuesday, is aimed at discovering whether CTS has notified other automakers that pedals it sold them are defective. That way, NHTSA can “determine if additional defect notices are required” from other auto manufacturers. If they are, the document indicates, carmakers beyond Toyota may have to issue recalls.

Notably, the investigation does not appear to focus on whether the pedals made by CTS are indeed defective.

That flies in the face of a statement made by CTS on Friday. The parts maker, which appeared to be taken by surprise by Toyota’s recall, said it had “deep concern that there is widespread confusion and incorrect information about the role of CTS-manufactured gas pedals” in the Toyota recall, and that its pedals “should absolutely not be linked with any sudden unintended acceleration incidents.”

The Times has previously reported that safety officials have received more than 2,000 complaints of unintended acceleration in Toyota and Lexus vehicles in the last decade. Many were in reference to vehicles and model years not included in the recall. Toyota began using CTS pedals in its 2005 model year.

Last week, Ford Motor Co. recalled a small number of trucks built in China that use CTS pedals, and on Sunday, French automaker Peugeot said it would recall 90,000 vehicles it made in the Czech Republic in a joint venture with Toyota.

What to do if your accelerator gets stuck? From ozcarguide:

The […]  simplest advice was by Consumer Reports magazine, that instructed drivers to firstly brake hard, then shift the vehicle into Neutral. Once the vehicle rolled to a stop, switch off the engine.

The magazine advised that the engine would still be revving loudly as you are trying to stop the vehicle, but advised against turning it off until the engine car was stationary. The reason for this is that if you turned the key while still in motion, it could activate the steering lock and you may end up losing control of the vehicle.

While gearheads know that this method is bad for your engine, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your and your occupants lives.

Additional tips direct from Toyota:

  • Don’t pump the brakes when attempting to stop the car, press down on it firmly and hold.
  • Don’t remove the key entirely from the ignition slot, instead turn it to the ACC position (prevents steering lock).
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18 Comments

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18 responses to “Toyota Prius? Or ‘Toyota, pry us out of this wreck!’?

  1. It’s a mess, and I’m just glad I don’t own one. But, it’s still worrisome if the driver next to you or behind you suddenly has the problem.

  2. writechic

    Holy shit. 8 models! And for the unmechanically inclined like me, I’d be so dead. CR lost me at brake hard.

    Dishonor on your car company, Mr. Akio I-drive-an-Audi Toyoda!

    • i had to laugh at him driving away in an audi! real show of confidence in your product, huh?

      sandy is the resident car expert here, but he hasn’t been around in a while. maybe he’ll stop by and shed more light on the subject.

  3. We here in Detroit are engaging in much Schadenfreude at Toyota’s expense. We’re also hoping to have U.S. car sales increase. :-$

    • i was glad it was toyota and not an american company and glad it involved red indiana and not a blue state. unfortunately, no matter which company it was or where parts were made, there are toyotas being driven all over the place, and i just hope nobody else gets hurt.

      one of the articles said that toyota might just get a boost in sales. this is from the l.a. times article:

      But Toyota’s reputation for making quality cars may be resilient, said Brian Gluckman of AutoTrader.com, which tracks potential customers’ requests for information about dealer inventory in their neighborhoods. Searches spiked at the end of last week for information on Toyota’s Matrix and Highlander vehicles, which are among those being recalled.

      “People think that with all the negative press about Toyota, it might be a good time to get a deal,” Gluckman said.

      Individual dealers have done a good job of reassuring their customers, many of whom have had a long history of loyalty to the Toyota brand, he said. He predicted that Toyota’s sales numbers would rise after it lifts its self-imposed ban on selling certain models.

      “Not being able to sell vehicles and losing customers are two different things,” he said.

  4. I AM driving a 2009 Matrix, so it’s a little disconcerting to think my car might just suddenly take me for a wild ride. These instructions they give about breaking hard, shifting to neutral & pulling over don’t necessarily jive with being on the freeway with an 18 wheeler barreling next to you, or gnarly traffic. You may have to be in the fast lane to take the left turn & may not have that safe right hand shoulder they imply is at the ready.

    When I spoke w the dealer/repair shop guy, he said not all models are included just certain ones made @ certain US manufacturing plants. Mine does need the recall fix.

    They ought to make bumper stickers… “BACK THE HELL OFF, I’M DRIVING A TOYOTA THAT NEEDS RECALL PARTS, NOT YET AVAILABLE”

    I am trying to give myself defensible space… but let’s just say I hope they come up with a fix soon.
    They also said it occurs rarely….. but if it is your vehicle that is going bezerk, it’s not rare enough.

    No word on Audi rentals for the masses in the meantime.

    • maybe there needs to be a ‘toyota only’ lane. unfortunately, no matter how careful we are, you never know what the guy in the next car or truck is going to do. so many crazy drivers on the road, and adding cars that might have a dangerous defect to the mix doesn’t make things any better. drive carefully!

      • Hey! Honda came out saying the “FIT” can burst into flames…. so it is not just Toyota.

        I read today one postage stamp sized piece of steel will be the fix for Toyota.

        I have to admit, I find myself scoping out emergency exit zones as I drive the freeway.

        • and the rethuglican answer would be–less regulation and cap the amount juries can reward to people who are injured or to the families of those killed by the defective cars. and, of course, allow the corporations the same rights as citizens and let they control the political system.

  5. There are about 8 models that are recalled due to accelerator issues. this would add to the safety features of the vehicles and would make the image of Toyota clear.

  6. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak got so frustrated with his fucked up Toyota Prius and unreturned phone calls to Toyota, he took a reporter on a long highway drive to demonstrate how the cruise control triggered a stuck accelerator.
    Hard to decide who was stupider, Wozniak for continuing to drive that car, or the reporter who rode with him.

    • this is from afp:

      The Prius, a best-selling hybrid, is not one of the vehicles under recall.

      …snip…

      Wozniak told ABC his acceleration problem in his Prius can be brought under control by braking and by a radar system that regulates distance from other cars by slowing it down.

      He also spoke to CNN about his car troubles, stressing that “I love this car” and downplaying his earlier comments to ABC about a possible broad Toyota software problem.

      “It’s more like a radio button that doesn’t work all the time. The car will start to accelerate in cruise control. You can hit the brake to stop it,” Wozniak told CNN.

      “Maybe it’s scary for the first time for a couple of seconds, but once you know about it, it’s not like I think it’s life threatening.”

      apparently, it’s not the same problem, but i still wouldn’t drive in the damned thing.

  7. The funniest thing happened last night on these comments about how things go haywire. This Dell unit my sis gave me last year went TOTALLY BERSERK! After hours of working with it, reseting, mouse no go, total frustration, going to the XP book to make it work on manual, for no reason, it starts working again. You gotta love technology! And my soundly based mechanical rant, lost forever in the ozone. Now I’m not in the mood. At least the “devils typewriter” is doing its thing. But for how long?

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