Toyota’s global 8.5 million vehicle recall has taken an ugly turn overnight with internal documents revealing the Japanese company was happy about saving US$100 million by limiting a safety recall in 2007.
Presented confidentially in July 2009, Toyota North America president of operations, Yoshimi Inaba, announced “wins for Toyota” after achieving “favourable safety outcomes” and “secured safety rule-making favourable to Toyota”.
Toyota explained it “negotiated an equipment recall” for the 2007 Toyota Camry and Lexus ES 350, recalling 55,000 floor mats rather than fixing the defective accelerator pedals, saving US$100 million.
Toyota also confirmed it saved millions by delaying federal safety rules on numerous models and avoided an investigation into the 1995 to 2004 Tacoma pickup, which had undercarriage rust issues.
In response to the revelations, Toyota said:
“Our first priority is the safety of our customers, and to conclude otherwise on the basis of one internal presentation is wrong.”
As well as a number of US class action lawsuits that could cost the company billions, Toyota CEO, Akio Toyoda, faces the first of three panel hearings on Wednesday when he meets with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
That will be followed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee next Tuesday and the Senate committee later next week.
A spokeswoman for the US Transportation Department, Olivia Alair, told the New York Times that Toyota’s actions had left the department with few alternatives.
“Unfortunately this document is very telling. We’re going to hold Toyota’s feet to the fire and make sure they do what’s necessary.”
(with the New York Times)