February 22, 2010

I don't know why this is suddenly such big news. Car companies have been negotiating recall compromises with the government for decades, leading to such strange consumer "solutions" as the "hidden warranty", under which dealers don't have to inform you of a manufacturing defect (or pay for it) unless you specifically ask them: "Is there a hidden warranty on this?"

Toyota Motor Corp. officials took credit for saving hundreds of millions of dollars by persuading federal regulators to limit or avoid safety recalls and rules, a company document released Sunday shows.

The document, an internal company presentation, depicts an automaker focused on getting what it termed "favorable recall outcomes" from regulators, with a goal of saving money even as the death toll climbed from accidents in which Toyota vehicles accelerated uncontrollably.

The presentation by executives in the company's Washington, D.C., office was addressed to Yoshimi Inaba, Toyota's top U.S. executive, and dated July 6, 2009 -- months before the sudden-acceleration problem was widely known outside Toyota and the federal highway regulatory agency.

The document, released by congressional investigators, describes the automaker's regulatory agenda and highlights a wide-ranging string of "wins for Toyota."

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