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Top Stories
Toyota Starts to Fight Back
Toyota Receives Subpoena From U.S. Grand Jury
Documents: Toyota Boasted Saving $100M on Recall
Bush-Era Officials Face Toyota Questions
Worried Toyota Dealers Adding Own Voice to PR Push
U.S. Says No GM Ownership Conflicts in Toyota Case
Car Dealers Upbeat in Orlando
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Top Stories
Toyota Starts to Fight Back

Company argues that overall safety record is normal
Tired of the flood of negative reports from the government and media, Toyota's U.S. executives are mounting a new and more vigorous defense of the company's tarnished safety record. Company officials argue Toyota is being punished unfairly for a level of long-term safety performance that is well within industry norms. Last week they cited consumer complaint statistics to defend Toyota's record. Critics say those figures have limited value for the specific issue of unintended acceleration and divert attention from hundreds of other complaints that have raised questions about Toyota vehicles.

Still, Toyota executives and dealers are using the data to fire back at the daily pounding of bad news. Toyota Division chief Bob Carter said only 13 complaints about sticky accelerators led to its massive recall of 2.3 million vehicles last month and the suspension of sales of eight models. "That's too many, and it's our responsibility to fix it." Carter said at a news conference at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Orlando. But, he added, "It's frustrating that it's gotten to this level (of government and media criticism) for 13 instances."
Source: Automotive News

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Toyota Receives Subpoena From U.S. Grand Jury
WASHINGTON -- Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday it has received a subpoena from a U.S. federal grand jury requesting documents related to unintended acceleration of its vehicles and the braking system of its Prius hybrid, as the auto maker's safety woes continue to grow. The company also said it has received a "voluntary request" and a subpoena from the Los Angeles office of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for documents related to sudden unintended acceleration and the company's disclosure polices and practices. The Japanese auto maker said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange that it received the grand jury request on Feb. 9 and the SEC request on Feb. 19. Toyota said it intends to cooperate with the investigations and is preparing its responses.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Documents: Toyota Boasted Saving $100M on Recall

Claims by Toyota in internal documents that it saved money by obtaining a limited recall from regulators in 2007 create an even bigger challenge for the automaker's president when he testifies before U.S. lawmakers this week over quality and safety lapses. Toyota officials said they saved $100 million by successfully negotiating with the U.S. government on a limited recall of floor mats in some Toyota and Lexus vehicles, according to new documents shared with congressional investigators. The documents could set off alarms in Congress over whether Toyota put profits ahead of customer safety and pushed regulators to narrow the scope of recalls.

Two House committees are holding hearings this week on the Japanese automaker's recall of 8.5 million vehicles in recent months to deal with safety problems involving gas pedals, floor mats and brakes. The documents were turned over to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — which is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday — and obtained by The Associated Press on Sunday. Toyota President Akio Toyoda is scheduled to testify at a separate House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Wednesday.
Source: The Associated Press

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Bush-Era Officials Face Toyota Questions

WASHINGTON -- A House committee investigating Toyota Motor Corp. will broaden its probe to examine whether Bush administration officials adequately responded to the Japanese auto maker's safety problems, the panel's senior Republican said Friday. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee plans to hold a second hearing on the Toyota crisis, likely in the first week of March, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said in an interview. Rep. Issa said for the second hearing, the committee will seek testimony from officials who led the Transportation Department and the agency's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under former President George W. Bush. Rep. Issa said there are questions about whether the NHTSA responded adequately to signs in recent years of broader safety problems at Toyota. "There isn't an NHTSA failure under this president. There is a continuation of a failure" that may go back more than a decade, Mr. Issa said.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Worried Toyota Dealers Adding Own Voice to PR Push

How rattled are Toyota dealers about the company's problems? Some dealerships nearly hired the same crisis public relations firm that handled the travails of socialite Paris Hilton, singer Chris Brown and a company that California called the state's worst inland polluter. With Toyota waging a furious lobbying and advertising battle to protect its name following the recall of 8.5 million vehicles, many of its 1,200 dealers are taking matters into their own hands. Dozens of dealers will lobby members of Congress this week as two House oversight committees hold hearings. Some dealers organized their own advertising campaigns; many are nervous and angry. The behind-the-scenes activities highlight dealers' worries about a crisis that has caused Toyota sales to plummet, and about a corporate response that some of them consider slow-footed and inadequate. It also underscores their willingness to flex their muscle on Capitol Hill, where dealers have clout in every congressional district as major employers and pillars of the tax base and community.
Source: The Associated Press

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U.S. Says No GM Ownership Conflicts in Toyota Case

LOS ANGELES -- The U.S. government's majority stake in General Motors Co. has no bearing on the response of regulators to safety problems at Toyota Motor Corp., Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said on Friday. "That argument is baloney," LaHood said when asked about the issue during an appearance in Los Angeles. Questions about whether the government stands to benefit as a GM shareholder from its regulatory crackdown on Toyota gained some steam this week with a number of critics suggesting at least the appearance of a conflict of interest. LaHood said the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has recalled 23 million vehicles in the last three years, and "I venture to say many of those were American-made cars."
Source: Reuters

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Car Dealers Upbeat in Orlando

The National Automobile Dealers Association and Exposition, which concluded its annual convention in Orlando (last) Monday, was relatively upbeat, given the economy. One reason: Paul Taylor, chief economist for the NADA, predicted that U.S. light-vehicle sales will hit 11.9 million units in 2010 as credit becomes more available and consumer confidence improves with rising employment. 
Source: Orlando Sentinel

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Quotable
 
"I think the dealer voices can be very effective because of the role they play in their communities."

    -- Josephine Cooper, who heads Toyota's Washington office, on dealers flying to Washington in support of the company, which faces two congressional hearings this week on recalls, The Associated Press, Feb. 21
Video Highlights
 

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2010 Convention
 

CLICK HERE for Comprehensive Convention News Coverage at NADAFrontPage.com.


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HP Announces Winner of Mini Laptop

Julia George, the controller at Flagler Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep in Palm Coast, Fla., was the winner of the HP Mini 5102 laptop drawing at the 2010 NADA Convention. HP congratulates Julia and thanks all the visitors to the NADA Pavilion. To see all the HP computer and printer products available to NADA members visit NADA's PC Purchase Program site (member log in required).

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