A Toyota dealership advertises a 0% interest rate on the windshield of an unsold 2010 Toyota Matrix in Lakewood, Colo.
David Zalubowski / AP
The flood of recalls — nearly 9 million vehicles in the past 12 months — and reams of nasty publicity involving runaway cars and unintended acceleration seemed finally to have abated for the beleaguered automaker Toyota. Then, on Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it was intensifying its investigation into another potential Toyota safety issue: sudden-stalling problems on its Corolla and Matrix models.
This new NHTSA move, a formal engineering investigation of the Matrixes and Corollas from model years 2005 to ’07, stems from more than 1,000 complaints that have been received by Toyota and the NHTSA. It could possibly lead to another major round of recalls if mechanical or electrical problems are found. (See the 50 worst cars of all time.)
The investigation is just the latest in a barrage of challenges — and heavy damage — to the once gilt-edged reputation of the world’s top automaker. While solidly profitable during the first quarter of fiscal year 2011, the company still has a way to go before it can repair that reputation. "They are still a successful company, they just aren’t on a pedestal anymore," says Rebecca Lindland, an analyst with IHS Global Insight.
"This controversy has damaged our reputation," acknowledges Toyota spokesman John Hanson, referring to the sudden-acceleration issue. But it’s about more than just reputation: Toyota faces liability claims over incidents that have been blamed for 79 deaths and hundreds of crashes.
Earlier in August, Toyota executives were heartened to receive a report from the NHTSA that the agency hadn’t found any evidence that faulty electronics played a role in sudden-acceleration accidents, and instead suggested driver error…
GM today reported that they will reinstate over half, 600 of the 1,100 dealership franchises they told to get lost last year- in an effort to keep the other some 5,000 dealerships "healthy and profitable." The lucky 600 will be getting letters asking to stay with the automaker, that’s if they haven’t already closed their doors forever due to the fact that 1) car sales suck despite an upbeat report earlier in the week 2) some people would argue that GM cars suck and finally 3) the GM brand may be discontinued forever a la Pontiac, Saturn, and Hummer.
A consortion of dealerships have been fighting the Detroit giant, citing they’ve been treated unfairly and that GM was vague in their decisions and thoughts on what dealers are actually profitable, and which ones are not.
Chrysler too, which slashed almost 800 of it’s franchises is also reconsidering the cuts; according to the Associated Press "the decision was a compromise meant to avoid federal legislation that would require that the showrooms be kept open."
Under the revised cutting procedures, dealers would "get face-to-face reviews, binding arbitration and faster payments to help dealers slated for shutdown."
As published by the Associated Press on Yahoo!:
"Congress-brokered talks between dealer groups and the automakers began in September. But those talks stalled over disputes about the review process for targeted dealerships and other issues. Looming over the fight has been the threat of federal legislation to deal with the closures. Lawmakers warned that if a deal wasn’t reached, that legislation would move forward.
The White House has opposed the legislation over concerns that it could hurt GM’s and Chrysler’s efforts to rebound from their government-led bankruptcies."
I guess Congress figures, they’re not done launching torpedos at Toyota- better keep some of these domestic dealerships open to sop-up the overage from Toyota’s once ivory, and now bloodied domestic tower of safety and reliability.
Does anyone really believe that Toyota is being pilloried in the media for a few highway fatalities?
Nonsense. If Congress is so worried about innocent people getting killed, then why haven’t they indicted US commander Stanley McChrystal for blowing up another 27 Afghan civilians on Sunday?
But this isn’t about bloodshed and it’s certainly not "safety regulations". It’s about politics--bare-knuckle Machiavellian politics. An attack on Toyota is an attack on Japan’s leading export. It is an act of war. Here’s a excerpt from the New York Times which explains what is really going on:
"The Japanese economy has emerged from its worst recession since World War II, but is still reeling. Japan must do more to lift its economy out of deflation and boost long-term growth, S.&P. said.
“The outlook change reflects our view that the Japanese government’s diminishing economic policy flexibility may lead to a downgrade unless measures can be taken to stem fiscal and deflationary pressures,” S.&P. said. “The policies of the new Democratic Party of Japan government point to a slower pace of fiscal consolidation than we had previously expected.”
President Barack Obama is expected to address similar worries in the Untied States on Wednesday, with a call for a freeze in spending on many domestic programs, a move he hopes will quell perceptions that government spending is out of control. Fiscal problems in Greece and Ireland have also helped put the spotlight on the issue of national debt." ("Japan’s High Debt Prompts Credit Rating Warning", HIROKO TABUCHI AND BETTINA WASSENER, NY Times)
Japan’s new liberal government is fighting deflation using the traditional methodology, by lowering interest rates and increasing fiscal stimulus. But that’s not what Washington wants. Neoliberal policymakers and their buddies in the right-wing think tanks want "fiscal consolidation" which means harsh austerity measures that will deepen the recession, increase unemployment, and…
Not much. At least not from an engineering, mechanical or even a quality point of view. You don’t reach the top gear in the global auto industry unless you make outstanding cars, which Toyota does — most of the time. Though cars are familiar machines, they are also highly complex ones. To create a modern car, a company has to design, engineer, build, buy and then assemble some 10,000 parts. Sell 7.8 million cars, as Toyota did worldwide in 2009 — a horrible year for the industry — and there are billions of new parts with the potential to go kerflooey. Inevitably, some do.
What makes the recall since November of nearly 9 million Toyotas that are susceptible to uncontrolled acceleration and balky brakes such a shocking story is not so much the company’s manufacture of some shoddy cars or even its dreadful crisis management — though those are errors that will cost it more than $2 billion in repairs and lost sales this year. It’s something more pernicious: the vapor lock that seems to have seized Toyota’s mythologized corporate culture and turned one of the most admired companies in the world into a bunch of flailing gearheads. Not only is Toyota producing more flawed cars than in the past, but an organization known for its unrivaled ability to suss out problems, fix them and turn them into advantages is looking clueless on all counts.
Although the recalls seemed sudden, the evidence has been piling up. Literally. According to a report from Massachusetts-based Safety Research & Strategies (SRS), a consumer-advocacy group, there was a spike in the number of unintended-acceleration incidents in some Toyota vehicles in 2002, about the same time that Toyota introduced its electronic throttle control. The problem was initially blamed on a floor mat or vehicle trim that, if it came loose, could jam the accelerator pedal in an open-throttle position. That was followed by the first of several National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigations, in 2003, and two small recalls in 2005 and 2007. But accidents mounted, and last November the company had to take back nearly 3.8 million U.S. Vehicles — its biggest-ever recall — to address the problem.
Modifying the floor mats, though, didn’t fix things. Toyota at first refused to…
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told reporters at a Wednesday breakfast that people should stop driving their Toyotas, then later toned down his comments to a repair advisory. Maybe it’s just Washington’s new toughness in dealing with Big Business, but LaHood’s shot was clearly a sign that respect for the king of cars is no longer in effect.
The damage done to Toyota by its recall of more than 5.3 million autos is clearly accumulating: U.S. sales dropped 16% in January, and the company’s stock surrendered $21 billion in value in a single week. The Department of Transportation is threatening the company with fines for being slow to react to the problems — a pair of faults that can cause sudden, dangerous acceleration — although DOT itself is being criticized for the same reason. Lawyers, who are never slow to react, are swarming. One class action alleges that jammed accelerators in Toyotas have caused 16 deaths and 243 injuries. Customers who once wouldn’t think about looking at another brand now have reason to.
Toyota has now made two recalls in the U.S. The first, involving 4.9 million cars, was triggered by a problematic floor mat that could come loose and jam the gas pedal open. The second, of 2.3 million vehicles on Jan. 21, concerns a problem with the gas-pedal mechanism itself. Toyota has told drivers to remove the floor mats; its fix for the sticky pedal requires a free 30-min. shop repair. DOT has urged owners of the 11 recalled models to use caution and get to a dealer. Still unknown: whether an electronic problem is also a culprit in sudden acceleration. Toyota says it isn’t.
The parable of Toyota may be that the tortoise became the hare. Over decades, Toyota built its reputation and market share in tiny increments through its renowned "continuous improvement" method. In the Toyota mantra, quality was always first, because it led to lower costs, which would eventually lead to higher market share. Eventually.
But in the ’90s, Toyota set out to become the world’s top auto company. Being best and being biggest created a tension that Toyota couldn’t resolve, says MIT operations expert Steven Spear: "If quality is first, it drives a certain set of behaviors. If market share is the goal,…
Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) — Electronic throttle systems are under review by U.S. safety officials as a possible cause of sudden acceleration in Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles, as alleged in at least seven lawsuits.
I wrote on this the other day in which I opined:
But not all cars can "run away" in this fashion, and it can be argued that none should. Indeed, it can be argued that that any vehicle with a drive-by-wire system MUST have a means of intuitively overriding an "un-commanded" acceleration in order to be considered reasonably safe and thus able to be certified for sale.
Now I happen to think that all drive-by-wire throttles should be interlocked with the brake pedal. Put a means to install an override on it if you want (rally drivers will complain if they can’t get one) but for ordinary street use this is something that just plain old-fashioned ought to be there.
If I stomp the brakes the throttle should be returned to idle. Period.
In my VW Jetta Wagon it is.
That won’t cover the case where the computer goes insane, however.
That is only covered by a mechanical ignition switch that interrupts power to the ignition circuit, and that too should be mandatory.
To use electronic "start buttons" for reason of vanity is outrageous. And let’s not kid ourselves- that’s exactly what those switches are.
Second, I’ve been around a lot of dangerous gear in my life with a lot of "emergency stop" buttons all over the wall (or on the machine.) You don’t have to hold them in for three seconds to stop the machine, you just hit them and that’s it – power’s off!
I have a lathe in my shop. It has a big fat RED emergency stop button front and center on the control panel where I can get to it FAST if I need to. It does exactly what you think it should do too – it cuts the power. If I need that machine to stop in an emergency I need it to stop NOW, not three or five seconds later.
Toyota gas pedal makers says it is ramping up production of replacement pedals for new cars
WASHINGTON (AP) — The company that makes the gas pedal systems implicated in Toyota’s big recall says it is working with the automaker on a fix.
CTS Corp. officials say they have ramped up production at three factories to manufacture redesigned pedals. The pedals are meant to solve problems with condensation that Toyota has said can cause them to react slowly when a driver presses on the gas. In rare cases, the gas pedals can get stuck.
CTS says it is also working with the Japanese automaker to find a potentially quicker repair for vehicles already on the road.
Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons says the automaker has not decided if the new pedals will go to dealers or factories.
He says the company has also not decided whether it will repair the defective pedals or replace them. Toyota engineers are working on ways to fix the pedals, he said… more here.>>
Timothy warned me about Toyotas several months ago, and this is his previous article with updates in the comments at the very end – scroll down. See also my previous article, M-m-m-my Toyota - featuring my first attempt at song writing, for my car of all things (thankfully not on the recall list!!). It goes to the tune of My Sharona. (Okay, I had some time on my hands.)
Timothy was subject to one of my interviews back in October, in case you missed it. - Ilene
All Toyota-produced vehicles sold in the U.S. today—including Toyota cars and trucks, and Lexus automobiles—are unsafe. It will take years before new models roll off the company’s assembly lines that are completely safe. Also, millions of Toyota vehicles are on American roads already that are unsafe to drive. Any recent-vintage Toyota product, model years 2002 and later, potentially can turn into a runaway vehicle at a moment’s notice. Driving one or being a passenger is like playing Russian roulette. Query whether Americans, especially young families with small children, will trust their lives to Toyota?
Tragically and irresponsibly, the company has lied for years and it is lying now. First, Toyota claimed it was a floor mat problem. Next, the problems were related to the accelerator pedal; and on and on the company’s lies go. Toyota has had 10 years to investigate these issues, and determine and implement solutions, but its management has lied repeatedly and it is still doing it. The runaway vehicle safety problems, which are confronting the giant automaker, are of a magnitude equal to or greater than those that brought down the storied Firestone tire brand, and the same thing may happen to Toyota. Every American needs to read about runaway Toyota-produced vehicles. The facts are sobering.
After the sudden-acceleration problems surfaced in Toyota and Lexus vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said “more motorists have died in Toyota vehicles associated with sudden acceleration in the last decade than in cars made by all other manufacturers combined.” Consumer advocate Ralph Nader’s trail-blazing and Herculean efforts helped launch the automobile safety movement. His speeches and writings on behalf of Americans (see, e.g., “Unsafe at Any Speed”) helped expose
One of the themes we’ve been keen to advance this year is the idea that the rally in US equities is in large part attributable to corporate buybacks. In essence, companies tap yield-starved investors in the debt market and use the proceeds to repurchase shares, thus ensuring a constant bid for their stock while artificially inflating earnings and propping up the value of equity-linked compensation at the same time. All of this comes at the expense of capex (i.e. investing in future productivity and growth) and as we’ve noted on several occasions, is easy to spot if one looks at the divergence in the percentage of companies beating earnings estimates versus the percentage of companies beating revenue...
Margin Debt of late hit all-time highs, surpassing levels reached in 2000 and 2007, should we be concerned? In the long-term, margin debt at these levels will most likely become an issue that will impact markets, possibly like it has in the past.
In the past, it wasn’t high levels that ended up being the signal to reduce exposure to stocks. So what was the signal? When should we be concerned that these levels could impact stocks?
Below looks at Margin debt on a 12-month rolling Average basis. The chart below reflects that when margin debt was expanding rapidly on a 12-month basis in 2000 and 2007; then it turned sharply lower, that is when investors sh...
Years of poor funding exacerbated Chicago’s pension obligations so that it may be infeasible to keep them solvent without modifying benefits. Chicago’s four pension plans have a combined $20.1 billion unfunded liability and funded ratios ranging from just 24% to 57%.
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Quick take: At the end of April the inflation-adjusted S&P 500 index price was 93% above its long-term trend, unchanged from the previous month.
About the only certainty in the stock market is that, over the long haul, over performance turns into under performance and vice versa. Is there a pattern to this movement? Let's apply some simple regression analysis (see footnote below) to the question.
Below is a chart of the S&P Composite stretching back to 1871 based on the real (inflation-adjusted) monthly average of daily closes. I've using a semi-log scale to equalize vertical distances for the same percentage change regardless of the index price range.
The regression trendline drawn through the data clarifies the secular pattern of variance from the trend — those multi-year periods when the market trades ...
Back in December, I wrote a post on my blog where I compared the performances of various ETFs related to the oil industry. I was looking for the best possible proxy to match the moves of oil prices if you didn't want to play with futures. At the time, I concluded that for medium term trades, USO and the leveraged ETFs UCO and SCO were the most promising. Longer term, broader ETFs like OIH and XLE might make better investment if oil prices do recover to more profitable prices since ETF linked to futures like USO, UCO and SCO do suffer from decay. It also seemed that DIG and DUG could be promising if OIH could recover as it should with the price of oil, but that they don't make a good proxy for the price of oil itself.
Last week, stocks cycled bullish yet again. In fact, the S&P 500, NYSE Composite, and NASDAQ each closed at record highs as investors positioned for the heart of earnings season in the wake of strong reports from some of the Tech giants. Notably, Utilities stocks got some renewed traction as yield-starved investors returned to the sector. Although our trend-following sector rotation model remains bullish, strong overhead technical resistance and neutral rankings in our SectorCast quant model indicate that caution is in order, and this might not be the moment for a major upside breakout, particularly given the expected softne...
Here's an interesting argument by Felix Salmon, although I think he is taking two correct observations and mistakenly attributing a cause-and-effect relationship to them: Bitcoin is going nowhere because women are not involved.
More likely, in my opinion, women are not involved in bitcoin because bitcoin is going nowhere (and they know it). Or maybe, simply, bitcoin is going nowhere and women are not involved.
Nathaniel Popper’s new book, Digital Gold, is as close as you can get to being the definitive account of the history of Bitcoin. As its subtitle proclaims, the book tells the story of the “misfits” (the first generation of hacker-l...
Kim Parlee interviews Phil on Money Talk. Be sure to watch the replays if you missed the show live on Wednesday night (it was recorded on Monday). As usual, Phil provides an excellent program packed with macro analysis, important lessons and trading ideas. ~ Ilene
The replay is now available on BNN's website. For the three part series, click on the links below.
Part 1 is here (discussing the macro outlook for the markets)
Part 2 is here. (discussing our main trading strategies)
Part 3 is here. (reviewing our pick of th...
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PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs! The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down! The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months. What could go wrong?
Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.
Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies. A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
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