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Greg Webb
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Outrageous Misconduct? Toyota Documents Spell More Trouble

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Several internal Toyota documents have recently surfaced regarding the lax attention and regard paid to its past and presently escalating sudden acceleration woes. The documents were subpoenaed by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

One memo, dated last July, notes how the company saved $100 million by getting the government go-ahead to use replacement floor mats in 55,000 vehicles as a solution to sudden acceleration problems. Another, a letter to the NHTSA dated February 27, 2004, references five sudden acceleration cases of Toyota and Lexus vehicles having occurred in the 12 months before. That is three years earlier than State Farm, the biggest auto insurer subpoenaed for documents, previously reported, and five years before Toyota detailed its sudden acceleration problems for the government.

The document calls into question “whether Toyota was lobbying for less rigid actions from regulators to protect their bottom line.” Similarly, a NHSTA note dated March 1, 2004 to State Farm regarded how timely the report was, seeing as how the NHSTA was “looking into similar reports.”

The documents do little except add to the mounting skepticism that Toyota intentionally circumvented fully solving a problem that could endanger the lives of its consumers and the public at large. In fact, there are recent reports that Toyota bragged about saving the $100 million dollars using replacment floor mats. If true, this is outrageous misconduct, and the present troubles of Toyota are nothing more than the company reaping what it has sowed.