We’ve picked on Toyota pretty often in this blog. (Like here, here.) We’re so sorry about that. In fact, rather than leading with the Los Angeles Times bummer headline from the weekend, “Toyota, Hyundai and Volkswagen lose ground in California sales,” we’ll give you the Wall Street Cheat Sheet’s version of these same statistics in an article they call, “Cars That California’s Rich and Famous Drive.” Toyota should be happy with this news:
It’s still the Prius’s world
California car buyers’ shift toward hybrid and electric vehicles continued in 2013. The Toyota Prius repeated as the biggest seller of any vehicle in California in 2013, the [California New Car Dealers Associations] CNCDA report showed, with hybrids taking a 6.8 percent share of the total market.
That might take the sting out of other recent Toyota news, like:
Toyota is recalling more than a quarter million pickups, SUV's and luxury-brand Lexus crossovers because various safety systems, including stability control and anti-lock brakes, could become inoperative.
The 2012 and 2013 model year vehicles have an electrical component in the brake actuator, which adjusts fluid pressure in each wheel cylinder. This may experience increased resistance, according to documents filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That could lead to reduced vehicle control and an increased risk of a crash as various safety systems, including traction control, become inoperative.…
Earlier this week, Toyota recalled all 1.9 million of its third-generation Prius cars sold worldwide due to a programming glitch in their hybrid system.
Oooh, that does sting. Plus there was this story from the LA Times:
[Toyota] is reportedly close to paying a $1-billion fine to settle a four-year federal criminal investigation into whether it properly reported safety complaints to regulators [about sudden-acceleration problems.] Meanwhile, Toyota's lawyers are in settlement talks over hundreds of civil lawsuits alleging wrongful deaths or injuries, potentially adding hundreds of millions to the tab.
Previously, Toyota agreed to pay $1.6 billion to settle a class-action case brought by thousands of Toyota owners who contended that sudden-acceleration problems damaged the value of their vehicles.…
The potential for a $1-billion settlement of the criminal investigation was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Citing unnamed sources, the newspaper reported that an agreement with the U.S. attorney's office in New York could come within weeks. But the deal is not done and could change, according to the Journal.…
Automotive safety advocates welcomed news of a potentially huge fine in the criminal probe.
It is "enough to make even Toyota flinch," said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety.
"Even today, no one knows what Toyota withheld from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that could have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that sudden acceleration is due to vehicle design, not driver error," Ditlow said. "Only billion-dollar fines and criminal prosecutions can stop auto industry cover-ups of deadly vehicle defects."
Meanwhile, this video about San Diego’s Mossy Toyota and its outrageous forced arbitration clause (see more here) is up to 1.3 million and counting. (Hey, we just report the news, Toyota. Do better!)