Filed under: Government/Legal , Recalls , Safety , Toyota , Earnings/Financials UPDATE: Just like that, Toyota has released an official statement confirming its $1.2-billion dollar settlement with the US Attorney’s Office. Our story has been updated to reflect this development and the automaker’s official statement has been added below . Toyota has reached a settlement over the criminal probe into its unintended acceleration problems, and the outcome is more expensive than first expected. The Japanese automaker has agreed to pay $1.2 billion to close the investigation among other settlement terms. The criminal inquiry focused on whether the company kept information from regulators and how it handled drivers’ complaints about the problems, according to the sources. Between 2009 and 2010, Toyota ended up recalling over 10 million vehicles worldwide over sudden acceleration fears. Fixes include modifying floor mats, gas pedals, and installing brake override software on affected models. In addition, Toyota made the latter standard on all of its new vehicles. The first rumblings of a settlement broke last month when “people familiar with the matter” revealed a possible billion-dollar agreement . That rumor suggested that the deal would also include criminal deferred prosecution arrangement that would force Toyota to accept responsibility but let it avoid federal criminal convictions.
Filed under: Government/Legal , Safety , Toyota , Earnings/Financials A total of 22.6 million current and former Toyota owners have been sent notices that they may be eligible to receive compensation from the automaker for damages related to the unintended acceleration fiasco that has dominated headlines in 2009 and 2010. The total payout may be as high as $1.63 billion, according to The Detroit News . Steve Berman, a lawyer for the owners, calls the potential deal “a landmark, if not a record, settlement in automobile defects class action litigation in the United States.” Still, there’s some debate about whether or not Toyota’s proposed settlement is fair, as it includes $30 million for safety research and driver education programs – in other words, Toyota seems to be suggesting that drivers need more education on how to drive their correctly working and fully functional vehicles. For those keeping track, Toyota would also be paying lawyer fees of $200 million. A US District Judge in California is scheduled to hold a so-called “fairness hearing” on June 14 that could decide the fate of this particular settlement. Further courtroom wrangling will be required to hash out any wrongful death suits levied against Toyota stemming from unintended acceleration claims, as those are not part of this class-action suit. Toyota sudden acceleration class action may cover 22 million owners originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 16 May 2013 09:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: Government/Legal , Toyota Toyota announced today that it has reached a settlement with the Attorneys General of 29 states and one US territory that will resolve their complaints relating to recalls performed by the automaker from 2005-2010, including those related to sticky accelerators and malfunctioning floor mats that may have contributed to cases of unintended acceleration. The settlement includes a payout of $29 million to be divided among the states and US territory, as well as a commitment from Toyota “to take steps to make vehicle information more easily accessible to consumers to help them operate their vehicles safely and make more informed choices.” The settlement also has Toyota continuing its rapid-response service teams and quality field offices that were put in place shortly after the largest of the recalls from 2010, as well as a “range of customer care amenities for owners of vehicles subject to certain recalls,” though the press release below isn’t specific about what those amenities might be. This settlement marks the second major step in the last few months that Toyota has taken to settle legal disputes surrounding the unintended acceleration recalls, the first being a $1.4 billion settlement to address economic loss suffered by owners of current and past Toyota vehicles that may have lost value on account of these recalls. Continue reading Toyota settles complaints with states Attorneys General for $29 million Toyota settles complaints with states Attorneys General for $29 million originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 14 Feb 2013 17:43:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: Safety , Technology , Toyota In recent years, Toyota vehicles have been involved in a number high-profile accidents blamed on ” unintended acceleration .” And whether the root cause of these incidents boils down to driver error or faulty mechanicals, Toyota is working to address the issue. One of two new systems in development at Toyota goes by the name of Intelligent Clearance Sonar. The technology is meant to reduce parking lot collisions by detecting objects out of the driver’s sight. If an imminent collision is detected, the ICS system will automatically hit the brakes, reduce engine power and sound an alarm. Toyota’s other new safety system is Drive-Start Control. According to the automaker, if the system senses that the wrong gear has been selected from Park while the driver is pressing on the accelerator, a warning is flashed on the dashboard and engine output is reduced “to limit a sudden start or acceleration.” There are a number of scenarios where the system might kick in – for example, if a driver bumps into something while reversing, panics and shifts into a forward gear without letting up on the accelerator, DSC would take over. While such research is commendable, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has called for making such systems mandatory in coming years. And more and more automakers are investigating and/or committing to developing electronic failsafes to deal with unintended acceleration. Last month, Nissan announced a camera-based system designed to curb pedal misapplication. Toyota says the systems will be available on future vehicles soon, a development that could give it a leg up on the competition if/when new federal rules are approved.
Filed under: Government/Legal , Recalls , Lexus , Toyota Toyota Motor Corp. has decided to settle a shareholder class action lawsuit for $25.5 million. The suit began in early 2010 after reports of accidents attributed to unintended acceleration cropped up. The class action accused Toyota of improperly disclosing “safety and quality issues” related to those reports. The company later recalled as many as 10 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles in a program estimated to cost $5 billion. The public relations fallout dragged down the company’s stock value by $30 billion. The Maryland State Retirement and Pension System, a member of the lawsuit class, had previously estimated a successful trial could have ended with as much as a $124 million payout. If you hold Toyota stock, though, don’t start spending your winnings just yet. First, common stockholders were disqualified from the suit in 2011. Only claims by investors in Toyota’s American Depository Shares are covered.
Filed under: Government/Legal , Safety , Toyota National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administrator David Strickland has released a letter defending the agency’s handling of investigations into claims of unintended acceleration by Toyota owners. Republican Senator Charles Grassley has said questions remain about what caused unintended acceleration instances in the Japanese manufacturer’s vehicles, specifically whether or not the trouble was caused by electronic glitches. Grassley specifically questioned whether NHTSA had the experience necessary to diagnose the defect. The senator also wondered why NHTSA investigators called in NASA scientists for assistance during the investigation. Strickland, meanwhile, has responded by saying NHTSA did, in fact, have the requisite experience and that NASA was called upon for a second opinion. The administrator underscored the fact that neither NHTSA nor NASA could find an electronic reason for the claims of unintended acceleration. As you may recall, the government agency concluded in early 2011 that faulty gas pedals and floor mats were to blame for the runaway syndrome. According to The Washington Post , Grassley’s letter stemmed from tips from whistleblowers who claim the runaway vehicles were actually caused by errant strands of solder within the pedal assembly itself. Those strands could reportedly cause shorts within the system. Strickland responded by saying NHTSA investigated the solder issue, otherwise known as “tin whiskers,” and found the issue to cause no more than a jumpy throttle, a stance Toyota agrees with.
Filed under: Government/Legal , Recalls , Safety , Technology , Toyota Toyota is facing further fallout from its recent unintended acceleration debacle, with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to reopen its investigation into the situation that led Toyota to recall some eight million vehicles. According to TheDetroitBureau.com, Grassley has written a letter to NHTSA director David Strickland, stating in part, “Key questions about the cause of unintended acceleration remain unanswered.” Grassley’s contention is that because neither of the two independent investigations into the issue produced a definitive cause or explanation, further digging is necessary. Most of the unintended acceleration incidents in the NASA and National Academy of Sciences reports not attributed to trapped floormats or other problems with accelerator pedals were blamed on driver error, according to the report, but both studies concluded that other unknown issues could be at play. According to Automotive News , Grassley is particularly concerned about the “tin whiskers” phenomenon, in which tiny threads of conductive crystal can grow on circuit boards. Toyota has responded to the Grassley letter, issuing a statement that reads, in part, “There is no problem with the electronic throttle control systems in Toyota vehicles – and all the scientific evidence confirms it. So-called ‘tin whiskers’ are not a new phenomenon and do not represent a mysterious or undetectable problem in a vehicle’s electronics.” Sen Grassley asks if Toyota got off easy with unintended acceleration debacle originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 13 Jul 2012 13:27:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink