Toyota Memo Brags of Saving $100 Million by Limiting Recall

February 22, 2010

A damaging memo has been uncovered that makes Toyota look as if  the safety of its customers is just a pawn in a game of profits. The troubling document surfaces just as Toyota executives are set to head to Washington D.C. this week to face Congressional hearings.

The Detroit Free Press explainsToyota’s leading U.S. executive boasted to the automaker’s Washington staff last summer that they had saved the company more than $100 million by limiting regulatory action on sudden acceleration to a recall of equipment such as floor mats.  That is according to documents turned over to a key U.S. House committee which will hold the hearings beginning Tuesday.

The Wall Street Journal reports the claim was made in a presentation for Toyota executives titled “Wins for Toyota Safety Group.”  Among the “wins” the document lists are the savings claim, as well as a federal government “decision to close safety investigations of the Toyota Tacoma truck without ordering recalls, and delays to new safety rules that saved the company hundreds of millions of dollars.”  The presentation, the Journal speculates, “By linking safety issues to corporate profits, could prompt difficult questions for company executives, including President Akio Toyoda, who is scheduled to testify Wednesday before the Oversight Panel.”

The carmaker’s chief executive, Akio Toyoda, is set to testify before the oversight panel on Wednesday. The House Energy and Commerce Committee opens the round of hearings on Tuesday, while a Senate committee will meet on Toyota next week.