Filed under: Government/Legal , Safety , Toyota , Earnings/Financials According to those all-too-nebulous “people familiar with the matter,” Toyota is close to a settlement with the US federal government to end a criminal probe over its long-running unintended acceleration fiasco. Though Toyota has never admitted guilt, the deal could reportedly crest a billion dollars and would likely include a criminal deferred prosecution agreement, and while we’re not legal experts, The Wall Street Journal explains that such a deal would “[force Toyota] to accept responsibility while avoiding the potentially crippling consequences of federal criminal convictions.” The report from WSJ also suggests that Toyota is facing charges that it “made false or incomplete disclosures” to various government agencies regarding possible defects to its cars. Such charges may include mail and wire fraud violations. Toyota has already paid out fines totaling $66.2 million to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration because it failed to report safety defects in a timely manner. This deal with the federal government is not related to the billion-dollar class-action settlement reached with Toyota owners over falling vehicle values, and it’s also different from the roughly 400 lawsuits still in courts alleging personal injury of wrongful death due to cases of unintended acceleration. In other words, don’t expect to hear the end of such courtroom verdicts and settlements anytime soon… Toyota nearing $1B settlement of unintended acceleration criminal probe originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 09 Feb 2014 11:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: Government/Legal , Safety , Videos , GM , Toyota Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-WV, held an all-day summit on Thursday to discuss the dangers of using modern technology while driving, during which an ad that Mazda aired during the Super Bowl was used as an example of the worrisome future towards which we’re headed. While seemingly innocuous at first glance, the ad, which can be seen below , shows a brief glimpse of a driver using the Mazda Connect infotainment system in a Mazda3 to check/update his Facebook page while driving down the road. Officials from major communications companies like Samsung, Google and Apple attended the summit, as well as representatives from automakers including General Motors and Toyota . A representative from Mazda was not present despite the company’s own currently available technology being used as the poster child for the issues being discussed. According to Automotive News , Senator Rockefeller warned the automaker and communication execs on hand that he will propose legislation to regulate the use of technology while driving if they don’t work together to implement their own standards more quickly. Michael Robinson, GM’s vice president of sustainability and global regulatory affairs, argued that his company has had distracted driving guidelines in place for 15 years since the advent of its OnStar system, noting that the technology in question has also helped the automaker save lives through automatic crash detection and calls to 911. Continue reading Mazda ad showing Facebook updates while driving criticized by Senate committee [w/video] Mazda ad showing Facebook updates while driving criticized by Senate committee [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 08 Feb 2014 11:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: Budget , Hybrid , Minivan/Van , Sedan , Truck , Recalls , Safety , Toyota When we reported yesterday on Toyota’s stop-sale order of certain 2013 and 2014 models due to an issue with the fabrics on models with heated seats not conforming to flammability regulations, one of our many questions was how many vehicles were affected? More importantly, how many of those cars have already found homes? Kelley Blue Book has the troubling statistics. Every 2013 and 2014 Avalon features heated seats. 6.2-percent of 2013 and 4.5-percent of 2014 Camry sedans, meanwhile, were sold with heated seats. That doesn’t seem as bad as 100-percent of the larger Avalon, until you consider the Camry’s huge volume – the 5.6-percent average still accounts for a lot of cars. Sienna minivans are heavily affected as well, with a total of 37-percent of 2013s and 46-percent of 2014s fitted with butt warmers. The stop-sale only affects 7-percent of 2014 Corolla models, but like the Camry, that number is rather misleading due to the sheer volume of cars Toyota moves. You can see the entire breakdown of percentages by clicking on the inset image. According to Karl Brauer, a senior analyst for KBB, this problem comes at the worst possible time.
Filed under: Budget , Sedan , Safety , Hatchback , Chevrolet , Ford , Honda , Hyundai , Kia , Mazda , Mitsubishi , Nissan , Toyota The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and its challenging small-overlap crash test have passed judgment. In testing of nearly a dozen minicars, only one vehicle scored an acceptable rating on the ultra-tough test, which was instituted in August 2012. The Chevrolet Spark was the only car out of 11 to net an “Acceptable” rating in the small-overlap test and the only one to be named a 2014 Top Safety Pick . The IIHS has four rating levels – Poor, Marginal, Acceptable and Good. The Mazda2 , Kia Rio , Toyota Yaris and 2014 Ford Fiesta all netted “Marginal” scores on the small-overlap test, while the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage , Nissan Versa , Toyota Prius C , Hyundai Accent , Fiat 500 and Honda Fit all netted “Poor” ratings. We’ve posted the full score result sheet to the right . “Small, lightweight vehicles have an inherent safety disadvantage. That’s why it’s even more important to choose one with the best occupant protection,” said Joe Nolan, IIHS’ senior VP for vehicle research. “Unfortunately, as a group, minicars aren’t performing as well as other vehicle categories in the small overlap crash.” Scroll down for the official press release from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Continue reading IIHS tests 11 minicars, finds them wanting in small-overlap crash test IIHS tests 11 minicars, finds them wanting in small-overlap crash test originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 22 Jan 2014 00:01:00 EST.
Filed under: Budget , Sedan , Safety , Toyota All is right again in the Toyota kingdom. The Japanese manufacturer’s bread-and-butter sedan, the Camry , has been put back on Consumer Reports’ “Recommended” vehicle list, following improved performance in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s crash testing. You’ll recall that the 2012 and 2013 Camry were infamously booted from the list due to “Poor” ratings in IIHS’ notoriously tough small-overlap crash testing. Toyota vowed – just last week actually – to fix the ratings. As the Toyota brand’s head, Bill Fay, said last week, “It’s still a five-star car. It still does very well in all the IIHS tests. It did not in [the small overlap frontal crash test], and we’re busy making the necessary adjustments so that we can address that.” Now, though, those redesigned cars have been tested, earning an “Acceptable” rating in the overlap testing. According to Consumer Reports , Camrys built from November 2013 on feature new internal structures that improve the car’s crash test scores enough to make it a “Recommended” buy. IIHS has also elevated the car back to a position in its Top Safety Pick category, although it falls short of the new gold standard, the Top Safety Pick + rating. Toyota also made changes to the structure of the Prius , another model that failed to score well on small-overlap testing.
Filed under: Budget , Sedan , Safety , Toyota Many Toyota vehicles haven’t been performing well in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s ( IIHS ) small overlap frontal crash test, and the Camry is one of them. The 2012 and 2013 Camry both received “Poor” ratings, IIHS’ lowest rating, in the test, which spurred Consumer Reports to take the car off its “Recommended” list. In response to the low ratings in the small overlap frontal test, and in a bid to maintain its best-seller status, Toyota will make changes to the Camry to improve its IIHS safety rating and to enhance its design, The Detroit News reports . The Camry performed well in the moderate overlap frontal, side, roof strength and head restraints and seats crash tests, receiving “Good” ratings, IIHS’ highest rating, in all four tests. That was enough for IIHS to award it a Top Safety Pick rating, just not TSP+. Bill Fay, head of Toyota’s US division, reportedly says, “It’s still a five-star car. It still does very well in all the IIHS tests. It did not in [the small overlap frontal crash test], and we’re busy making the necessary adjustments so that we can address that.” Most Toyota models haven’t been put through the small overlap frontal test, but those that have haven’t received better than a “Marginal” rating, IIHS’ third-best rating. The Corolla received a “Marginal” rating , while the midsize Prius V , along with the Camry, earned “Poor” ratings . The RAV4 compact crossover also earned a “Poor” rating in the test.
Filed under: Truck , Recalls , Safety , Toyota When you build as many cars and trucks as Toyota does, you’re bound to run into the occasional recall . In the past month alone, the Japanese auto giant has recalled over 800,000 Camry, Avalon and Venza models over problems with the air-conditioning units, and 10,000 more before that over windshield wiper issues. Now Toyota has issued another recall notice, but this time for far fewer vehicles. The recall revolves around the engine valve springs in the 2013 and 2014 Tacoma , specifically those fitted with the standard 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine and not the optional 4.0-liter V6. The issue is that the valve springs are prone to cracking and breaking over time, and results from improper maintenance of the manufacturing equipment used by one of the two suppliers that outfit Toyota with the components in question. All told, some 4,000 vehicles will be subject to the voluntary recall, the owners of which will receive notice by mail. If you think that could be you and want to get a jump on the problem, you can read the announcement below and call Toyota yourself. Continue reading Toyota recalls 4,000 Tacoma pickups over valve springs Toyota recalls 4,000 Tacoma pickups over valve springs originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 07 Nov 2013 11:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: Government/Legal , Safety , Toyota , Earnings/Financials A jury has decided that faulty software was to blame for a crash involving a 2005 Toyota Camry that killed one woman and injured another. This is the first time Toyota has been found liable by a jury in a lawsuit involving sudden acceleration claims. Toyota has maintained that driver error is the most likely cause for cases of sudden acceleration. Shortly after the jury in the case, which took place in Oklahoma and centered around a crash that injured 76-year-old Jean Bookout and killed her passenger, Barbara Schwarz, reached a verdict that would see Toyota paying $3 million in compensatory damages, a confidential settlement was reached. The jury, which had found Toyota liable for “reckless disregard” for public safety, had yet to decide what punitive damages Toyota would face. Toyota said in a statement, “While we strongly disagree with the verdict, we are satisfied that the parties reached a mutually acceptable agreement to settle this case. We will continue to defend our products vigorously at trial in other legal venues.” This verdict could have widespread implications for several more cases that have yet to be heard in court where lawyers are expected to argue that software was to blame for sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles. These cases fall into a different legal category than the ones Toyota settled for $1.4 billion earlier this year. Toyota’s brief statement can be found below . Continue reading Toyota settles for $3M after being found liable in sudden acceleration case Toyota settles for $3M after being found liable in sudden acceleration case originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 26 Oct 2013 09:55:00 EST.
Filed under: Budget , Sedan , Recalls , Safety , Crossover , Toyota , Luxury Toyota has announced plans to voluntarily recall 803,000 vehicles from model years 2012 and 2013, over concerns with the air conditioning condenser housing. The recall covers the Camry , Camry Hybrid , Avalon , Avalon Hybrid and Venza , although the exact split between affected models wasn’t available. According to Toyota, the condenser can leak onto an airbag control module, which in turn could cause a short circuit. In most cases, this will just lead to an airbag warning light, but in rarer instances, the airbags could fail to deploy or pop out of their own accord. There’s also a concern over a loss of power steering if the airbag control module develops a short. It’s unclear if there have been any injuries or crashes relating to the defects. Toyota will begin informing owners of affected vehicles via first class mail, and will ask them to report to dealerships for recall work, involving the installation of a cover on the condenser housing. Scroll down for the official press release from Toyota. Continue reading Toyota recalling 800k Camry, Avalon and Venza models for AC issue Toyota recalling 800k Camry, Avalon and Venza models for AC issue originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 17 Oct 2013 15:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds .
Filed under: Safety , Technology , Lexus , Toyota A number of automakers are working on developing fully autonomous cars , but it looks like the groundwork for such technologies will likely show up first as semi-autonomous systems for both safety and convenience. Following recent announcements from Nissan and Ford in this area, Toyota has now released information for some of its advanced semi-autonomous technologies that could be offered in production cars over the next few years. On the safety front, Toyota’s new pre-collision system with pedestrian-avoidance steering assist is aimed at protecting the folks who aren’t in the car. This system combines visual and audible alerts with automatic brake assist and automatic steering. If warnings don’t get the driver to slow down, the brake assist kicks in if a collision is very likely, but if that is still not able to avoid the impending collision (and if there is enough room to do so), the car can automatically steer itself around the pedestrian. This sounds most beneficial for last-second dangers such as a person accidently stepping out into the road in front of a car. Toyota hopes to have this technology available to customers by 2015. The Japanese automaker is also testing a suite of technologies called Automated Highway Driving Assist (AHDA). The key part of this is a new adaptive cruise control system that uses vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications rather than a radar-based system. This cooperative-adaptive cruise control allows vehicles to communicate their acceleration and deceleration data with other cars, which Toyota says this helps to improve fuel efficiency and traffic flow.