This morning it was reported that the U.S. Transportation Department is seeking a $ 16.4 million fine against Toyota http://nyti.ms/c6UgOS. This is the largest fine allowed. Toyota has two weeks to contest the fine.
How exactly is a fine such as this going to be anything but window dressing? The accelerator problem is said to likely cost Toyota in excess of U.S. $ 2 billion. A Japanese bank has been asked to lend Toyota more than $ 3 billion. Toyota has held been the most profitable auto maker in the world (well at least up until recently) with sales of more than $ 11 billion worldwide.
While $ 16.4 million is no trifling sum how exactly is this kind of fine going to get Toyota and other automobile makers to pay closer attention to their responsibilities on overall car safety? My sense is that with faulty accelerator caused crashes (and deaths) of Toyota vehicles and a potential loss of sales of more than 10% ($ 1 billion or more) Toyota is standing at rapt attention.
So exactly what does the U.S. Transportation Department feel the issuance of a maximum fine will accomplish? And by the way what would the U.S. Transportation Department do with the money if in fact Toyota decides to not contest or the court rules the fine is allowable?
Toyota has had a marketing slogan since 2004 ‘Moving Forward’. Apparently that is not the problem. They have much bigger problems to with which to contend.
Maybe the Department of Transportation is thinking that they are going to teach Toyota and other automakers a ‘lesson’. I don’t get it. Do you?
BTW – I am just about ready to post on the I-pad but need a couple of days to actually hold one in my hand. The Chinese government held back the release of the I-pad while I was in China. They do that kind of stuff.
The Transportation Department fine is just the tip of the iceberg for Toyota’s legal problems and the company’s in-house counsel will be up to its neck in litigation for years to come. Of course, the company has to contest the government fine or it will weaken its position for the pending criminal and civil law suits. Plaintiff lawyers across the country are salivating.
P.S. – Apple delays the release of the iPad in Asia, as I would guess the Chinese government could care less.