I recently wrote a piece about how I believe Toyota is killing their brand with the way they handled the recent “unintended acceleration” issues and I have honestly been surprised by the company’s defenders.
For Toyota to know about this major issue and, in response, pursue a policy of “denying the problem exists, implying motorist error and simply hoping the issue will go away,” is to send a clear message that they couldn’t care less about customer safety.
Today Bloomberg reveals that not only has Toyota known about the “unintended acceleration” issues for quite some time, the company has gone so far as to hire former regulators to help it quash federal investigations into the problem:
Former regulators hired by Toyota Motor Corp. helped end at least four U.S. investigations of unintended acceleration by company vehicles in the last decade, warding off possible recalls, court and government records show.
Christopher Tinto, vice president of regulatory affairs in Toyota’s Washington office, and Christopher Santucci, who works for Tinto, helped persuade the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to end probes including those of 2002-2003 Toyota Camrys and Solaras, court documents show. Both men joined Toyota directly from NHTSA, Tinto in 1994 and Santucci in 2003.
So let me get this straight: rather than acknowledge the existence of the problem and pursue the appropriate remedies, Toyota decided to whitewash the problem by influencing or obstructing federal investigators. It sounds like Toyota just added a new chapter to, “how to kill one of the most powerful brands in the world.”