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Unsafe At Any Cost?

Ralph Nader questions Toyota’s R&D claims.

by on Oct.18, 2010

The young Ralph Nader testifying before Congress a half-century ago. He is now weighing in on R&D spending claims by Toyota.

The man who helped launched the auto safety movement by challenging General Motors is now taking on the company that has taken over as the world’s largest automaker.

Ralph Nader is challenging Toyota to explain claims it is spending $1 million an hour on R&D, a figure it is using in an ad campaign aimed at overcoming concerns about a year-long safety scandal.  By Nader’s calculations that works out to a whopping $8.7 billion annually.

The ad campaign, which was first launched in June, appears to link that spending specifically to the problems facing Toyota, proclaiming, “At Toyota, we care about your safety. That’s why we’re investing one million dollars every hour to improve our technology and your safety.”

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“That is an astonishing amount, compared to your industry peers, to be spent on safety R&D,” Nader says, in a letter sent to Jim Lentz, head of Toyota’s U.S. sales subsidiary.