Tuesday, February 23, 2010

US Toyota Workers Stand Behind Their Man, Their Company

The Congressional hearing on Toyota's recall problems (aka "kangaroo court", aka "witch hunt" in the name of public safety, my foot) will have Toyota's CEO Akio Toyoda tomorrow.

Japan's Nikkei Shinbun reports that Toyota's US factory workers are in Washington D.C. to show their support for their CEO and for their company.

"The Congressional hearing on February 23 on Toyota's recall problems was an unusually popular event. The line of people wanting to attend the hearing was 50 meters long. 300 people showed up for 150 slots.

"Among them, there were people wearing shirts with Toyota logo. They were men and women who work in Toyota factories around the country. One of them, from a Toyota factory in Indiana, said to the reporter, "We are only a small portion of the Toyota employees. We want everyone to know that there are tens of thousands of Toyota employees supporting the company throughout the United States."

"Referring to Toyota's CEO Akio Toyoda, who is going to testify on February 24, she said, "I trust him to make the right decision. I want him to correct the wrong impression that Americans have gotten about Toyota over the recall problems."

"There are already people forming a line to attend the February 24 hearing."

CNN also reports that Toyota's US dealers staged a rally on Capitol Hill in support of the company and their brands which have exemplified quality worldwide.

Toyota dealers rally in defense of brand (2/23/2010 CNN International)

"Washington (CNN) -- More than 100 Toyota dealership owners and staff rallied on Capitol Hill Tuesday to defend their businesses and Toyota as Congress opened high-profile hearings into recent large-scale vehicle recalls.

""We take great pride in the fact that as of last night, together we've done over 690,000 recalls already and are pacing at 50,000 a day throughout the United States," Paul Atkinson, chairman of the Toyota National Dealer Council, said to the crowd. "My question for you is: How did we suddenly overnight become the villain?"

"... Tamara Darvish of Darcars Automotive was quick to point out more bad news for Toyota could mean more bad news for their network of 172,000 employees in the United States.

"Atkinson noted that, in the wake of last year's bailout of General Motors and Chrysler, they're now in competition with government-backed automakers for market share."

"... But a message of optimism also was a recurring theme at Tuesday's rally. AutoNation President and CEO Mike Jackson said he believes the drop in sales was largely due to the fact that many vehicles were taken off the market until they were repaired. He does not expect the brand to suffer in the long term.

""What's fascinating about the American people is that if they see a company that's done it right for decades, but has a bad moment and makes a mistake and owns up to it and commits to change and does everything possible to make it right, the American people will understand and forgive," he said."

That's the spirit.

Now, can you imagine GM (or Chrysler or Ford) factory workers and dealers coming to Washington D.C. to show support for the CEO and the company, defending their brand and quality? I can't.

Good for them, these Toyota US workers and dealers. I just don't buy the allegation that Toyota short-changed safety for the profit. That's not how they have made cars anywhere in the world, from what I once observed in a Toyota plant in Japan. Local Craigslist has a listing for night shift auto technicians at a Toyota dealership to fix the pedals.

Transportation Secretary LaHood today "testified that ... NHTSA's investigations of complaints about unintended acceleration have produced no evidence that electronic throttle systems are affected by electromagnetic interference, as some have speculated." (Wall Street Journal, 2/23/2010)

In other words, no one knows what causes unintended acceleration, but let's gang up on Toyota because it sells more vehicles than Government Motors and people actually like them, and we the government won't allow that.

My next car will be a Toyota.


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