Toyota Sacrifices Reputation, Public Safety for Deadly Bottom-line
Imagine rolling down the street in your Toyota and suddenly your car starts accelerating out of control. Now imagine that happening simultaneously to 10 million Americans.
Many Toyota vehicles are out of control on the roads due to random accelerations by sticky gas pedals.
Toyota has begun to repair the faults, but nothing works. According to the Los Angeles Times, Toyota has been forced to recall nearly 5.4 million cars and trucks because of floor mats causing the gas pedal to stick. Even more disturbing, Toyota recalled nearly 4.1 million vehicles that had faulty gas pedals.
Due to these problems, Toyota's stock has plummeted in 2010. According to Yahoo Finances, Toyota opened this year at 85 points, and now stands in the 74-point range.
Furthermore, the Associated Press reported that since last February, Toyota Matrix sales have dropped 6.1 percent and Toyota Camry sales have dropped 19.8 percent.
In an attempt to spark its sales, Toyota has replaced floor mats, along with the gas pedals. It also added brake override software, a way to control acceleration, the Los Angeles Times reported.
These repairs are being made but complaints are still being filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
An NHTSA report conducted in February stated that the NHTSA has received reports of 52 fatalities related to unexplained acceleration since Toyota started making repairs, up from 34 reports a few weeks earlier. The accidents have been reported primarily on the Toyota Avalon, Camry, and Matrix.
Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota, appeared before a congressional hearing recently about Toyota's safety issues. Toyoda made an apology and accepted full responsibility for the faults. "I extend my condolences from the deepest part of my heart," he said.
This statement doesn't seem to hold much credibility. According to the Los Angeles Times, a Toyota document entitled "Wins for Toyota – Safety Group" lists $100 million in savings because the company recalled the floor mats rather than the entire car.
According the New York Times, Yoshimi Inaba, Toyota's highest-ranking executive in the U.S., admitted being aware of sticking pedals in Europe a year prior any accidents in the U.S.
"We did not hide it," he said. "But is was not properly shared."
It seems that Toyota is having more problems then ever because of what seems to be a cover up. If Toyota executives are not forthcoming about their company in front of Congress, then Toyota should be under more scrutiny then ever.
Toyota's faulty cars have now been responsible for many injuries and fatalities. It seems as if the rich, fat cats still believe that they can get away with whatever they want. The problem is, they just might.
According to consumer advocate Ralph Nader, the NHTSA's hands are tied due to a lack of funding.
Their "budget has been severely cut, and it cannot keep up with its regulatory responsibilities," he said in an interview with Democracy Now, a daily TV/radio news program. "Money is required for justice in safety, just as money is required for corporate lobbying."
Unless safety regulations become more stringent and NHTSA is properly funded, companies like Toyota will continue to get away with corrupt activities that end up saving them millions, but cost the American people billions.