Friday, February 05, 2010

What goes around comes around

It was a bit of fun seeing Toyota in a hot-seat similar to those that non-Japanese companies in Japan have had to endure when caught with similar problems. But it's getting a little extreme now and the first indication of that was when Steve Wozniac of Apple was interviewed on ABC because he had experienced what he thought was software problems which caused his Toyota to suddenly surge in speed. Not that Wozniac doesn't know software, but it was just a guess, however educated, on his part.

Now there will be endless investigations, all kinds of charges and counter-charges and plenty more opportunities for sensationalist TV reports. (Can we see David Muir of ABC sit in his office, call Toyota, and get turned down for an interview? Why not, he has been doing it to banks which apparently proves something.) This is exactly I would expect if the same thing had happened here involving a foreign auto maker (except for the absurd David Muir fake reporting).

Over at Anarchy Japan, there was a post a few days ago about how the US government was being unfair about this and that it was more politics than safety. Forbes has an article* with a similar take:

The company is under unprecedented attack by the U.S. government--never has a Secretary of Transportation told Americans not to drive anyone's cars or demanded a factory shutdown. It's taking on the appearance of a vendetta...

...If its Chief Executive Akio Toyoda bowed down and licked Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's shoe, it wouldn't have stopped the publicity...[especially after the tape of the fatal crash was released]

...The Toyota debacle will rub off to some degree on the reputation of all the Japanese [auto makers]...

I am of mixed emotions. On one hand this is way over-the-top and it seems obvious that Toyota is getting a little extra---and will get a lot more---because of the times and because it is a Japanese automaker. (The history of US-Japan auto wars has been anything but calm and rational for either side.) On the other hand, I have no doubt that if the shoe were on the other foot we'd be seeing the same thing here.

*It is best to read the full article to get everything in context.

7:15PM: More here

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