Toyota Lied?

“Toyota Lied” is a good headline and catchy enough to get a reader to look further into a story. In this case catchy is not where it ends.

According to The Wall Street Journal, “A U.S. House committee says Toyota made misleading public comments on recalls. The committee also questioned NHTSA expertise in auto electronics.” This is the first time that Congress has directly accused Toyota of actively hiding the truth about what it knew about defects in some of its vehicles from the public.

The Journal reports that In a letter to Jim Lenz, the head of Toyota’s U.S. sales arm, the House Energy and Commerce Committee said documents “show that Toyota consistently dismissed the possibility that electronic failures could be responsible for incidents of sudden acceleration.”

The statement will, as the details behind it come out, almost certainly further hurt Toyota’s credibility with the public and the chance it will be subject to legal consequences both from Congress and customers who will file liability and other class action suits over recalled models. The rapidity and frequency with which bad news has come out about the vehicles made by the No.1 car company and the firm’s candor have overwhelmed the ability of Toyota’s management to keep pace with the burgeoning disaster.

The accusation guarantees that the testimony of Toyota chief Akio Toyoda before Congress will be contentious and the spectacle of his being verbally beaten by US politicians will make Americans even more likely to turn away from the company’s brands as they buy new and used cars.

Douglas A. McIntyre