Wednesday, February 09, 2011
This story reminds me of another than took place in the 1980s. In 1986, Audi was accused of building faulty transmissions that caused cars to bolt forward suddenly. It wasn't true just as the government has concluded that Toyotas do not have faulty electronic accelerators. However, the outcomes were different. Audi was hounded out of the US for several years and lost hundreds of millions. Toyota is still facing lawsuits from eager tort lawyers. Yesterday's news, however, will force tort attorneys to go back and revise contentions about what happened, including the possibility of operator failure. That is, the driver stepped on the accelerator rather than the brake, which the government has concluded to be some of the incidents. The government and the news media have been better behaved this time. One would hope they have learned their lesson from the poor handling of the Audi incident, which was precipitated by 60 Minutes. Either way, Toyota has suffered a huge blow to its reputation with nearly continuous recalls. It has been a sad downfall for a company that for a long time seemed to do no wrong in building and marketing its cars.