Final Inspection

Lap Dogs, Memos and Runaway Comments

We don’t mean to make light of a deadly serious subject, but the Toyota recall hearings in Washington on Wednesday were ripe with memorable lines.

Growling with the tenacity of a bulldog, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood vigorously defends the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s record of investigating vehicle safety.

Responding to an accusation NHTSA has let down the side as a public watchdog, he bellows, “I’m not a lap dog and none of our employees are either.”

Grilled by Rep. John Mica (R-Fla) over an internal document that brags Toyota saved $100 million by avoiding a 2007 recall, North American President and COO Yoshima Inaba argues he was handed the memo on his first day as president. “I was new to Toyota. I had no idea what the company was.”

In another unfortunate choice of words, Akio Toyoda, grandson of the founder and global president of Toyota, in addressing congressional members on uncontrolled acceleration, says of his company, “We never run away from our problems.”

And finally back to LaHood, responding to criticism NHTSA cut Toyota too much slack in not responding to driver complaints: “We haven’t been sitting around on our hands.”

You can’t make this stuff up.

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on Dec 6, 2012

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