Toyota Still Ranks Above US Manufacturers Despite Congressional Kabuki Theater

Shares of Toyota Motor Corp. fared better Thursday in the wake of the company’s iconic president’s testimony to a U.S. congressional panel. In December 2009, Toyota retained Exponent, one of the country’s leading engineering and scientific consulting firms, to help the company evaluate reports of unintended acceleration in Toyota and Lexus vehicles equipped with the Electronic Throttle Control System with Intelligence (“ETCS-i”) system. Instances of unintended acceleration can be caused by many factors and they are not all sudden or sustained. The category is very broad, affects all major automakers, and can include issues involving cruise control, air conditioning, transmission surges and pedal misapplication.

Democratic lawmakers are grilling Toyota this week over the these safety concerns. 31 of those Democrats quizzing Toyota got UAW campaign cash. Hmm. And, of course, democrats believe the solution is more government control. Democrats want regulatory law bolstered by giving the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration more power. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) told POLITICO he is looking at strengthening the TREAD Act, a 2000 law that makes it criminal not to disclose defect information and also allows NHTSA to track defect information to provide the public with early warnings.

Despite this Congressional kabuki theater, Consumer Reports ranked Toyota as the third best car manufacturer. Not a single American manufacturer cracked the top 10 of overall best manufacturers including Government Motors.
The New York Post reported:

Honda and Subaru were ranked the best overall car manufacturers in the new Consumer Reports auto survey released yesterday — but recall-battered Toyota did surprising well, too, coming in a close third.

Honda and Subaru tied for first place with a total score of 77 based on reliability, performance, comfort and utility — while Toyota was next with a score of 74, the report said…

As for Toyota, Consumer Reports tested all of the recalled models but said it wouldn’t be recommending any of them at this point because of the situation.

But that didn’t stop them from naming Toyota’s Prius IV, which sells for $26,750, the best family car despite a recall for a software glitch in its braking system.

“Based on the data we have — and there is no bigger databank — the cars are reliable,” said Jeff Bartlett, an auto editor with Consumer Reports. Still, “obviously, some issues have been identified.”

Not a single American manufacturer cracked the top 10 of overall best manufacturers. Ford came in at No. 11 with an average score of 64. General Motors had a 57 average score and Chrysler an abysmal 46.

Yesterday, the FBI raided Toyota Supplier Denso in an antitrust probe. Glenn Reynolds added: “It might be a coincidence, and not a coordinated attack on a Government Motors competitor and non-UAW shop. But in an era of state-crony capitalism, all motives become suspect.”

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