Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently made some stinging remarks concerning Toyota and expressed intent to seek a multi-million dollar fine over the company’s slow reaction time in the recent gas pedal recall. Our favorite grumpy auto journalist Peter De Lorenzo at Autoextremist.com quoted Secretary LaHood as saying, “We now have proof that Toyota failed to live up to its legal obligations. Worse yet, they knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from U.S. officials and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families.”
To add injury to the insult, LaHood indicated that NHTSA will seek the maximum fine of $16.4 million for Toyota’s slowness to react to the faulty accelerator pedal issue. Now, Peter D. aptly points out that, while $16.4 million sounds like a lot, the amount of the fine is essentially just a “rounding error” when considering Toyota’s multi-billion dollar war chest of reserves.
The problem, however, is really in the gravity of the remarks made by a high-ranking U.S. government official about Toyota and its alleged inaction to protect its customers. In regard to the impact of all the bad press and the recent comments by the Transportation Secretary Mr. De Lorenzo very insightfully observed, “…Toyota is no longer on its own pedestal, safely ensconced above the mere mortal car companies that have to fight and claw and scramble for every scrap of business they can cling to.”
For Mr. Delorenzo’s entertaining and thought-provoking commentary on the most recent Toyota recall news, head on over to Autoextremist.com and look for the April 7, 2010 post.