AP: Former Toyota exec said in e-mail: 'We need to come clean.'
Irv Miller, a Toyota vice president, wrote an e-mail in January five days before the automaker issued a 2.3-million vehicle recall, saying: "I hate to break this to you but WE HAVE A tendency for MECHANICAL failure in accelerator pedals of a certain manufacturer on certain models," the Associated Press is reporting. (Emphasis in original.)
"We are not protecting our customers by keeping this quiet," wrote Miller, who recently retired. "The time to hide on this one is over."
Is this a smoking gun? Let's call it a slightly warm sword. This e-mail specifically addressed the sticking accelerator pedal -- and note that he pointed out that it is a "mechanical" problem. Five days later, Toyota issued a recall.
Had Miller written about electronic problems with runaway Toyota acceleration and used the word "hiding," then, yes, that's a smoking gun. But he didn't.
"We better just hope that they can get NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) to work with us in coming (up) with a workable solution that does not put us out of business," Miller wrote to Katsuhiko Koganei, executive coordinator for corporate communications for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.
NHTSA has drawn fire from lawmakers for being too lax on Toyota. In response, NHTSA hired a bunch of under-employed NASA scientists to get to the bottom of the runaway acceleration, evidently to give them something to do since President Obama essentially scrapped the manned spaceflight program.
April 7, 2010; 7:06 PM ET
Categories: Autos , Congress , The Ticker
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