Filed under: Marketing/Advertising , GM , Toyota General Motors might be mired in several recalls , as well as the ongoing investigations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Congress into the automaker’s response to those recalls. However, the company can celebrate taking the title of the US’ second-largest advertiser in 2013. According to Ad Week examining a recently released study, total advertising spending in the US posted its fourth consecutive year of rising expenditures with 0.9-percent growth to $140.2 billion. Of that, the auto industry spent $15.2 billion to promote its goods in 2013, up 3.8 percent. The country’s biggest advertiser was Procter and Gamble, which dropped $3.17 billion in 2013, an increase of 11.8 percent. GM became the nation’s second largest promoter with $1.794 billion in spending, up 10 percent. The biggest proportion of that money went to sell Cadillac and GMC . AT&T barely lost out with $1.793 billion in advertising, 15.2 percent growth. The 10 businesses with the highest ad investments spent a cumulative $15.9 billion during the year, 6.6 percent higher than 2012. Toyota came in eighth place making it the only other automaker to rank in the top 10.
Filed under: Government/Legal , Recalls , Safety , GM , Toyota In the past, if an automaker did something wrong, they were usually prosecuted by the US government through something called the TREAD Act. Short for Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act, it basically requires automakers to report recalls in other countries, along with any and all serious injuries or deaths, to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration . Failing to report or attempting to conceal anything when there’s been a death or serious injury constitutes a criminal liability. The idea is that this setup puts the onus on manufacturers to keep NHTSA apprised of safety related issues before they become a problem in the US, thereby allowing the regulator to better protect consumers. In theory, it sounds like a relatively airtight set of rules for dealing with misbehaving automakers. That didn’t stop the US Department of Justice from ignoring TREAD in its prosecution of Toyota’s handling of the unintended acceleration recall, though. The result of this new approach, which charged Toyota with wire fraud, was a $1.2 billion settlement . Now, the wire-fraud approach could be used for the expected case between the US government and General Motors , based on the statements of Attorney General Eric Holder , who specifically mentioned “similarly situated companies” when discussing Toyota. In order to make wire fraud stick, US prosecutors would need to prove criminal intent. As explained by Reuters , that means there needs to be evidence that GM actively misled either regulators like NHTSA, or the general public, all in a bid to maintain sales.
Filed under: Budget , Recalls , Safety , Crossover , Toyota Toyota has announced a small recall of its redesigned, 2014 Highlander over issues with one of its seat belts. The affected vehicles, which were built from November 20, 2013 to January 18, 2014, could have a seatbelt assembly in the middle seat of the third row that wasn’t properly secured to a floor anchorage at the factory. In total, 7,067 of the new Highlanders are included in the recall, which was discovered not after a crash, but during a post-build inspection at the factory. It’s unclear if there have been any injuries as a result of the faulty seat belts. Toyota is set to inform owners of the affected vehicles as well as dealers with the recalled Highlander models in their inventory. Naturally, repairs will be performed free of charge. For the full bulletin form the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration , scroll down. Continue reading 2014 Toyota Highlander recalled over seatbelt anchors 2014 Toyota Highlander recalled over seatbelt anchors originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 10 Mar 2014 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
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.