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Justice Dept. Confirms Toyota Settlement – Maker Will Take $1.2 Bil Hit

“Car owners have a right to expect that their vehicle is safe.”

by on Mar.19, 2014

Motorists "have a right to expect their vehicle is safe," said Attorney General Holder, adding that Toyota intentionally misled the public.

Declaring that “car owners …have a right to expect that their vehicle is safe,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder today announced a settlement of a long-running investigation into Toyota’s handling of a series of problems linked to a number of deaths and injuries and the eventual recall of more than 10 million vehicles.

The maker has agreed to pay $1.2 billion to settle the criminal investigation and will follow up on a number of steps it has already taken to ensure that it no longer delays responding to possible safety problems. That includes setting up rapid-response teams to quickly investigate customer concerns.

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The settlement comes just as the Justice Department begins an investigation into General Motors’ handling of a recall involving defective ignition switches that have been linked to at least 12 deaths.

“When car owners get behind the wheel, they have a right to expect that their vehicle is safe,” said Holder, during a news conference in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday morning. “Toyota violated that basic compact.”

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Toyota Set to Pay $1 Bil to Settle With US Justice Dept.

Feds end one criminal probe as they launch another targeting GM.

by on Mar.19, 2014

Toyota recalled over 10 million vehicles due to potential unintended acceleration problems.

Toyota is expected to pay $1 billion to settle a criminal investigation launched by the U.S. Justice Department into how the maker handled recalls linked to its problems with unintended acceleration nearly five years ago.

Both the Justice Dept. and the FBI had been looking to see whether the Japanese giant had intentionally misled federal safety regulators after it began receiving complaints that some of its vehicles could surge out of control unexpectedly. The automaker eventually recalled more than 10 million vehicles in the U.S. and millions more worldwide. It has also spent billions more to settle various lawsuits and to repair those vehicles.

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The settlement comes just as the Justice Dept. ramps up a preliminary investigation into how General Motors has handled the recall of 1.6 million vehicles equipped with faulty ignition switches. That service action – now linked to at least 12 deaths – was announced just last month, but an internal GM timeline indicates the maker first saw indications of the problem as early as 2001.

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NHTSA Fumbling Tough Decisions in Auto Investigations?

Critics claim agency not fully performing its duties.

by on Mar.14, 2014

Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, has been highly critical of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's handling of various automotive investigations.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is coming under fire for its role in the General Motors faulty ignition switch recall, leaving many wondering about how the agency makes decisions regarding the process.

The agency is in the midst of opening an investigation into the GM issue and closing the door on others without finishing the job, critics offer.

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For example, NHTSA just announced it was ending its investigation into a series of door fires in the Jeep Liberty. The query, which began in 2012, into 104,000 SUVs ended without seeking a recall despite reports of door fires linked to the driver’s side power master window switch. (more…)

Toyota Recalling 1.9 Mil Prius Hybrids

Maker cites faulty software.

by on Feb.12, 2014

About 700,000 Prius hybrids sold in the U.S. are covered by the maker's latest recall.

Toyota is recalling 1.9 million Prius Hybrid sedans sold around the world between 2009 and 2014 due to faulty software that could cause the vehicle to stop unexpectedly.

More than a third of the vehicles, 713,000 in all, were sold in the United States, where the Prius has long been the best-selling hybrid in the market. Nearly half, or 917,000 will be recalled in Japan where the Prius has routinely been the best-selling vehicle of all kinds.  The rest of the cars affected by the recall were sold in Europe and other parts of the world.

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Toyota says it has received no reports of injuries or accidents related to the problem. But the risk is that an accident could occur if one of the hybrids were to unexpectedly stall while on the road.

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Even as Toyota Settles One Unintended Acceleration Battle – Another Key Lawsuit Goes to Court

Family attorney claims Japanese maker “decided to save a few bucks.”

by on Jul.22, 2013

The crumpled wreck after Noriko Uno's crash.

This story has been revised to reflect revisions to the legal strategy of the Uno family lawyers.

You win some, you lose some.  Well, not quite. But even after winning approval late last week for a $1.63 billion deal to settle one key class action stemming from its unintended acceleration fiasco, Toyota Motor Corp. is now in court facing a separate lawsuit that could prove a serious embarrassment to the Japanese maker – and set the tone for other legal action to follow.

Between late 2009 and early 2010 Toyota was forced to recall more than 10 million vehicles worldwide due to a variety of issues that could potentially cause them to skitter out of control, including sticky accelerator pedals and loose floor mats that could jam a throttle wide open.  Though Toyota was ultimately cleared of claims its products also suffered mysterious electronic gremlins by several federal investigations, the maker faced a rash of litigation connected with the so-called unintended acceleration problem.

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That includes the case of Noriko Uno, a 66-year-old bookkeeper at her family’s Los Angeles sushi bar who was killed when her 2006 Camry unexpectedly launched to speeds of up to 100 mph before slamming into a telephone pole and tree.  Jury selection began in that case today and the showdown in Los Angeles County Superior Court is expected to take as much as two months.

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Senator Questions if Toyota Got Free Ride in Unintended Acceleration Investigation

Iowa’s Grassley says “key questions…unanswered.”

by on Jul.12, 2012

Iowa's GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley wants NHTSA to take a closer look at Toyota's problems with Unintended Acceleration.

Did Toyota get off too easily after it was largely cleared by a pair of investigations looking into the maker’s problems with so-called Unintended Acceleration?

That’s a possibility being raised by Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, who has sent a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, questioning the results of two studies conducted for the agency, in particular one done by NASA that found no evidence of electronic gremlins that might cause Toyota vehicles to race out of control.

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“Key questions about the cause of unintended acceleration remain unanswered,” the veteran lawmaker wrote in a letter to NHTSA Director David Strickland.

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Toyota Fires Back at CNN Report Claiming it Covered Up Safety Problem

Denies it hid data on unintended acceleration defects.

by on Mar.02, 2012

Toyota calls "grossly inaccurate" a report on CNN.

Toyota has called “grossly inaccurate” a news report on CNN that charges the Japanese maker with covering up a memo that could reveal additional causes for so-called “unintended acceleration.”

The Japanese giant recalled millions of vehicles in late 2009 and early 2010 due to a series of issues that could cause its vehicles to unexpectedly race out of control.  But Toyota insisted that the problems did not include defective electronic control systems – a conclusion echoed by a pair of studies authorized by U.S. federal safety regulators.

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Nonetheless, the latest report by CNN, which cites internal documents, could prove problematic considering the maker is facing numerous suits by owners who claim they experienced unintended acceleration.  If the network’s report proves true it could also pose a problem since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has already imposed record fines on Toyota for failing to properly act when it discovered prior safety-related problems.

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Toyota Recalling 2.2 mil More Vehicles Due to Gas Pedal Jamming

News comes after maker seemingly cleared in federal unintended acceleration investigation.

by on Feb.24, 2011

Added to Toyota's long recall list.

Toyota will recall another 2.2 million vehicles in the U.S. to fix a problem that could lead those products to suddenly surge out of control, it announced today.

The move was an unexpected and seemingly self-inflicted setback for a company that seemed poised to put the ongoing issue of so-called “unintended acceleration” behind it.  The announcement comes a year and a day after Toyota’s top U.S. executive, Jim Lentz, apologized to Congress for delaying action on the runaway car problem.  But it also follows by less than two weeks news that a federal investigation had ruled out mysterious electronic gremlins that might cause Toyota products to surge out of control.

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This is the third major recall by the Japanese maker to deal with unintended acceleration since October 2009 – and could raise questions about why it has taken Toyota so long to act.  Last year, the maker paid a record total of $48.8 million in federal fines for failing to act promptly on safety issues, including problems with sticky accelerator pedals.

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NHTSA to Release Results of Toyota Probe

Findings could wind down – or exacerbate maker’s safety woes.

by on Feb.07, 2011

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will reveal the results of a year-long investigation into Toyota's alleged sudden acceleration problems.

The problems may have their roots in Japan, but a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, could play a pivotal role in determining the future of the world’s largest automaker.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is expected to release the results of a long and intense probe into the so-called “sudden acceleration” problem that has reportedly plagued Toyota products.

The maker acknowledged it had a pair of problems, first recalling millions of cars, in October 2009, due to loose carpets that could trap the accelerator pedal, then announcing a second recall three months later because of potentially sticky throttles.  Toyota went so far as to shut down production at most of its U.S. plants, also halting sales of vehicles on dealer lots until it could make necessary repairs.

But critics have continued to insist that the recalls didn’t address alleged defects with the electronic control systems used to manage the maker’s vehicles.  Any number of possible problems, from software glitches to electromagnetic interference, have been accused of causing some Toyota products to suddenly surge out of control.

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U.S. Recalls Top 20 Million for 2010

Government confirms largest recall run since ’04.

by on Jan.19, 2011

Prius brake problems led to one of the 19 separate recalls by Toyota in 2010.

Despite – or perhaps because of — an increased focus on safety, recalls reached a six-year high in the U.S. last year.

Confirming an earlier report by TheDetroitBureau.com, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced today that a total of 20.3 million cars, trucks and crossovers were called back for safety-related repairs in 2010, the largest total since 2004. (Click Here for that earlier report.)

A major factor was the surge in recalls by Toyota Motor Co., which faced the worst safety scandal in its history, the Toyota, Scion and Lexus brands collectively recalling 7.1 million vehicles in the U.S. last year during 19 separate campaigns for problems ranging from sticky accelerators to brake problems with the Prius hybrid.  (Worldwide, Toyota recalled 11 million vehicles.)

But government data show that only Ford, among the six largest automotive brands operating in the U.S. saw a decline in the number of vehicles involved in recalls in 2010.

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