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Opposing View: James Lentz says Toyota ‘Firmly Focused’ on Safety, Unintended Acceleration is Rare

Opposing view: ‘Firmly focused’ on safety

Unintended acceleration is rare; Toyota’s working to restore trust.
By James Lentz

For 50 years, Americans have trusted Toyota to provide vehicles that are among the safest, most reliable on the road. We recognize that of late we have not lived up to the high standards our customers expect from us. We take our commitment to the public very seriously and are working hard to make things right.


We track how our cars and trucks are performing and have always made our best efforts to investigate and remedy any safety issues that are found. With respect to unintended acceleration, a rare event for which all automakers have received complaints, the causes can indeed be difficult to identify.


We have investigated this issue, and have identified two specific causes that we can address and are addressing with our recalls — pedal entrapment caused by floor mats and sticking accelerator pedals. In the case of sticking pedals, we were first able to uncover a defect trend in the U.S. late last October and moved quickly to pinpoint the cause and establish the fix. Dealers are now making the repairs for our customers at a rate of roughly 50,000 vehicles a day.


We are also taking additional steps to improve our quality controls, more aggressively investigate consumer complaints and more quickly address any safety issues we identify. And, we are committed to committed to further strengthening our dialogue with regulators.


Still, it is worth putting this issue in context. Confirmed incidents of unintended acceleration are a very small fraction of vehicles on the road, and Toyota's track record for reliability remains strong. Eighty percent of Toyota vehicles sold over the last 20 years are still on the road. And an independent report this week by Edmunds.com noted that Toyota had fewer complaints than 16 of 20 automakers ranked for complaints per vehicle sold in the U.S. since 2001.


All of us at Toyota — including our 172,000 North American employees and dealership personnel — are firmly focused on maintaining the safety and reliability of the vehicles our customers drive and ensuring we emerge a stronger company. We know we need to work hard to restore our customers' trust, and we are determined to do just that.


posted by James Lentz

President and Chief Operating Officer

Toyota Motors Sales, USA, Inc.




USA TODAY welcomes your views and encourages lively -- but civil -- discussions. Comments are unedited, but submissions reported as abusive may be removed. By posting a comment, you affirm that you are 13 years of age or older.


Comments: (22)


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kckn4fun (13 friends, send message) wrote:

2/15/2010 4:42:33 AM
Still, it is worth putting this issue in context. Confirmed incidents of unintended acceleration are a very small fraction of vehicles on the road, and Toyota's track record for reliability remains strong. Eighty percent of Toyota vehicles sold over the last 20 years are still on the road. And an independent report this week by Edmunds.com noted that Toyota had fewer complaints than 16 of 20 automakers ranked for complaints per vehicle sold in the U.S. since 2001.
And don't you worry Jim, those of us with more than a pea for a brain know that while the defect rate is high, the incident rate is extremely low. Besides, anyone who can't see their floor mat creeping up towards the accelerator and bring it down with their feet is a, well, ignoring the operating conditions of their motor vehicle for the sake of getting on with their life.

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mousebird (0 friends, send message) wrote:

2/15/2010 7:00:40 AM
Traded a Toyota in 5 years ago for a BMW and never regretted it.

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Orlandojon (80 friends, send message) wrote:

2/15/2010 7:18:41 AM
So if only a few people die from unexpected acceleration that's acceptable to you Mr Lentz?

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AveragePerson (16 friends, send message) wrote:

2/15/2010 8:23:00 AM
Yeah, right. Sorry, but I can't buy this "touchy feely" stuff.

I reported a problem with acceleration to Toyota's Customer Service Center. They told me to call my local dealer. After arguing with the Service Rep who insisted there was not a recall, I finally contacted the owner of the dealership who had the head of the Service Department call me. I brought in my vehicle and they told me there was nothing wrong with it. The owner of the dealership had the nerve to tell the local paper that no one in the area reported any problems.

So basically, Toyota allowed me to drive around in a vehicle that had experienced problems and then covered things up by telling the paper false statements.

You call that:
"firmly focused on maintaining the safety and reliability of the vehicles our customers drive"?????

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powergirl (117 friends, send message) wrote:
2/15/2010 9:12:04 AM
It was not rare to the family that was incerated.


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malamute (0 friends, send message) wrote:

2/15/2010 10:08:32 AM
I have read lots on this and have seen stuff where toyota is going to put in software updates for brake override on the floormat recalls on millions of cars. Sounds like a good way to fix the Electronic Throttle Control without ever having to admit that it is an issue. Toyota had covered up so many things, what a shady and weak company, built there reputation on lies and deceit.

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earnestw (0 friends, send message) wrote:
2/15/2010 11:17:43 AM
If the problem is acceleration, how can putting a shim in the mechanical linkage prevent this behaviour.

I predict they will recall all the effected automobiles, make the gas pedal change, install the shim and think they've corrected the problem. Nope, it's going to continue until they replace the computer where I believe the problem actually lies. The fix they are proposing is much cheaper, but if I'm right and the problem continues, Toyota may never recover. If any of you Toyota folks are listening ... better watch out!

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HabanaJoe (0 friends, send message) wrote:
2/15/2010 12:44:00 PM
mousebird (0 friends, send message) wrote: 5h 40m ago
Traded a Toyota in 5 years ago for a BMW and never regretted it.
---------------
We've had a 500 series for 3 years and aren't thrilled. We live in Florida and want our AC vents to be directed where we want them....not where the "logic" wants them. Everytime you start the car, you have to reset the AC vents from the default (floor and middle) to the middle. BMW says there is no way the driver can permanently reset the vents. Small thing but a dealbreaker for us. We won't buy another one.

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bdr (0 friends, send message) wrote:
2/15/2010 3:03:15 PM
Garbage response

I moved to Toyota as a young teacher nearly 30 years ago. I had a Ford truck constantly in the shop. That is the reason I left Chevy, Ford and Chrysler. They were awful cars back then.
My Toyotas and Nissans have been sturdy and dependable since then. My
wife and I have bought 8 new Toyotas since then including a Prius now.
One of our sons has a Toyota, the other a hand me down Nissan.

The issue is trust, not the number of actual fatalities. I am done with Toyota now - can't trust them.

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John786 (0 friends, send message) wrote:
2/15/2010 3:17:22 PM
Trial lawyers could give a hoot. They want a piece of the $23,000,000,000 in reserves that Toyota holds. Got a Toyota, see a lawyer for a coupon for a possible free oil change while he gets a cool million.

Views: 8

Tags: Firmly Focused, James Lentz, Opposing View, Toyota safety, Toyota working, Unintended Acceleration, restore trust

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Comment by Keith Shetterly on February 26, 2010 at 7:18am
I worked many years ago on the space program, and the Shuttle was really the first "fly-by-wire" vehicle--it's all computer-controlled, and that was way ahead of anyone else doing that at the start of that program. I'm not saying go back to a physical throttle linkage, but the Shuttle work taught me that development was only a small part of such software: The big step is testing! A set of circumstances you don't expect comes along . . . and, poof!, your fly-by-wire system is misbehaving. That's not an excuse, it's just reality--so, when they first heard of this, some engineers could've found it, given enough time and focus. I hate to think that Toyota tooke a queue from NASA launch approval of 1986 and had someone say "let's put take off our engineer hats and put on our manager hats" . . .

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