Update on the Toyota “Situation:” The Plot Thickens

24 Feb

I tweeted this earlier but didn’t have time to sit down and throw something up until now (and who doesn’t get down to such business at this hour?).

Besides being one of the better resources out there for consumers considering buying or selling a car, Edmunds.com actually does their own research and analysis.  Relevant to the Toyota situation, Edmunds analyzed NHTSA (National Highway Transit Safety Administration) data and found GROSS and seemingly inexplicable inconsistencies (Press release via autoblog, emphasis mine):

Edmunds.com Questions NHTSA Inconsistencies, Compares Chevy Cobalt and Toyota Corolla Steering Complaints

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — February 22, 2010 — Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive consumer information, has obtained and reviewed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) complaint and defect investigation database and determined that there are seemingly unexplainable inconsistencies in the vehicle recall process.

“Edmunds.com’s analysis of NHTSA data shows no clear pattern in terms of the number of consumer complaints that trigger an agency investigation. As few as five complaints have triggered an investigation; other investigations haven’t started until 1,500 complaints had accumulated,” noted Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Michelle Krebs in her report NHTSA on the Hot Seat: What is Standard Operating Procedure? on AutoObserver.com.

The report points out that between 2005 and 2010, steering problems on Chevrolet Cobalt were the subject of 1,157 complaints while Toyota Corolla steering problems were the subject of 84 complaints. According to Edmunds.com’s reading of the steering complaints on both vehicles, the complaints about the Cobalt’s steering are far more serious and more dangerous than are the complaints about the Corolla’s steering. NHTSA recently opened official investigations of both vehicles.

Edmunds.com’s analysis of NHTSA defects investigation data — from 1990 to the present — shows that once an investigation is launched, it takes an average of 262 days to conclude and result in a recall. However, the range has varied from an investigation that lasted a mere 10 days to another that languished for six years.

“Many of the complaints are actively discussed on Edmunds’ CarSpace.com, the auto industry’s most established online community, so neither the automaker nor NHTSA can claim ignorance of the issues that potentially make our roads less safe,” commented Sylvia Marino, Executive Director of Community for Edmunds.com.
“Whether NHTSA’s process works properly and quickly enough and whether it is transparent enough is highly questionable. Ultimately, this week’s Congressional hearings may well reveal as many defects in NHTSA procedures as defects in Toyota vehicles,” stated Krebs.

Oh, what, you thought the SEC was the only inept, captured, Congressional puppet regulator out there?  Ha!  Edumund’s analysis seems to indicate, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that there’s more than meets the eye going on at the NHTSA.  I’m not going to immediately leap to conclusions, but I anxiously await NHTSA’s rebuttal, if they can even muster one before the end of the next decade, that is.

More on this developing story as I get more information.

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6 Responses to “Update on the Toyota “Situation:” The Plot Thickens”

  1. Kid Dynamite February 24, 2010 at 1:26 pm #

    everyone expects the Chevy Cobalt to suck, though. People expect the Corolla to be the bastion of quality! thus, when you get a complaint about the Cobalt, the response is, “duh, obviously!”

  2. Anal_yst February 24, 2010 at 5:59 pm #

    Ah, “rational” expectations theory…

    Apologies for not adding more to this story but I thought the Press Release largely spoke for itself, at least for now.

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