We've all heard about the "safety problems" surrounding the Japanese auto maker here of late. The reports of sticking accelerator pedals and possible malfunctioning brakes have caused a media frenzy and it seems that everyone feels the need to weigh in. Even the Secretary of Transportation Frank LaHood cautioned the American public that they "Should stop driving Toyota's immediately, until such time that they could be repaired", therein sparking a nationwide panic.
So my question to you is, why is this such a big deal? Out of 1.8M cars, there were 52 complaints of of Sudden Unintended Acceleration (SUA) regarding Toyota vehicles. It should also be noted, that both GM and Chrysler were also blamed for SUA complaints and accidents, however, only Toyota issued a recall and is undergoing the scrutiny of the Fed. Why could that be?
Admittedly, Toyota had more complaints than any other manufacturer, but the same gas pedals being noted as fault here, were also supplied by the same vendor to the other auto companies. Seems strange that only Toyota would be called out and so quickly critiqued for a problem that seems to wash over many. The real pain point is a report of a San Diego family that was unfortunately killed in a Lexus SUV due to SUA. While the rumors that it was a stuck gas pedal helped fuel this controversy, it should be noted that the real cause of this horrendous accident are still under investigation and the cause is not known.
So being a responsible auto manufacturer, Toyota has recalled over 2M cars, a much wider net than required, and has shut down it's US plants and stopped selling 9 of it's most popular models until all issues are rectified, an action which is expected to cost the company $2.5B per month. In addition, Congress has now announced that it will begin congressional safety hearings and investigations, while also considering civil suits against the manufacturer, which will surely be a huge boon to the plaintiff's bar, a huge Obama administration ally.
Let us not forget that Toyota has built a reputation on building safe cars. That 3/4's of all the models in their line up receive 5 star crash ratings on both side and front impacts. So again, I ask you why? Why is this case so public and why does it demand so much attention from the Fed? Mistakes happen with complex machinery, as it has happened to millions of cars from all makers. Toyota is taking the steps, at great financial burden to itself, to fix the issue, so why?
Need I remind you that, with the federal takeover of GM, Toyota is a direct competitor to GM and by proxy, the US government? Do not forget that Toyota is Union-Free shop, whose workers choose year in and year out not to become union affiliated. That the government take over of GM was a joint venture between the Fed and the UAW (United Auto Workers) union and that the UAW is huge lobbying force for the current administration?
What we are seeing here today is the perfect socialist storm. This is proof positive of how markets will react when the government is considered an "owner" and backer of certain industries. Surely no one can doubt that all the troubles plaguing Toyota now will be of great importance to GM. Better yet, the Fed is in the perfect position to help foster this paranoia via government agents (Frank LaHood?) making declarations of the disastrous outcomes of merely driving these vehicles. We have the beginnings of the Fed being able to legislate competitors out of the market via the use of congressional hearings, new "safety" regulations, and penalties that will be difficult for any manufacturer, save the government owned one, to comply by. Lastly, what better way to push the ideal that union shops are better, when all this public outcry is pointed squarely at a non-union shop (but ignoring that the same issues exist on union made cars).
I've said it once, and I'll say it again, that no industry can compete against a government that controls the ability to regulate and legislate in a manner that supports and benefits government owned entity. The federal government has seized onto a prime opportunity to further it's socialist agenda by pointing to a incident as proof that "we are better off when the government looks out for us". It's crap and it makes me sick to see this happen. Toyota is a good company and it is doing the right thing by casting such a huge umbrella to ensure it catches the issue, an issue who's cause is not fully known and still under investigation. What comes next? Government mandates that UAW members do safety checks, thus paving the way to require unionization in the plant? The passage of specific penalties and laws aimed solely at one of the main competitors to the Federal auto industry in an effort to run Toyota out of the market? Targeting the next manufacturer (BMW, Mazda) should they ever have to recall a vehicle, like all manufacturers do?
The fed has no place in this matter. Had Toyota not performed the voluntary recall, had negligent fault been found, had Toyota chosen to ignore the problem, then yes; however this isn't the case. The government is on a witch hunt to further it's socialistic principals and push for more control of the industry. Don't fall victim to the false statements and hysteria being expelled by our government. Realize that this is nothing more than yet another power grab by an out of control government.