A Toyota executive boasted of the company saving $100 million by negotiating a limited recall for Toyota Camry and Lexus ES cars over a problem
that could cause unintended acceleration.
In an internal Toyota (TM) document used as part of a company presentation on its government relations, dated July 6, 2009, the phrase “Negotiated ‘equipment’ recall on Camry/ES re: [sudden acceleration], saved $100 million+ with no defect found” is among a bullet-pointed list of “wins.”
An “equipment” recall is a more limited type of recall, often to repair a accessory or non-essential part of the vehicle.
The presentation was given by Yoshi Inaba, Toyota’s top North American executive.
The reference was apparently to a Sept., 2007, recall to secure floor mats that could trap the cars’ gas pedals.
In August, 2009, the month following the presentation in which the executive boasted of saving $100 million over a full recall, a family of four was killed in a Lexus with its gas pedal stuck under a floor mat.
In November, 2009, Toyota had full recall to reconfigure the gas pedals of numerous Toyota models to prevent such incidents.
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Among other “wins” listed were “Avoided investigation on Tacoma rust” and helping win delays in various new federal safety regulations.
A copy of the presentation was provided to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee which is set to grill Toyota president Akio Toyoda on Wednesday. It is unclear who provided the document to the Committee.
“If anything but the safety of America’s drivers influenced the decision-making process, the entire purpose of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will be undermined,” said Kurt Bardella, a spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Neither a Toyota nor a NHTSA spokesperson was immediately available to comment for this report.