Toyota is bouncing back nicely from the fall in profits and confidence it took following the unintended acceleration problems.
Toyota Motor Corp. on Tuesday revealed its projections for 2010 - a gain of 48% to $3.32 billion project for the fiscal year that ends in March 2011. The fourth quarter began the recovery with a net profit of more than $1 billion after taking more than a $7 billion loss a year earlier.
At a press conference Tuesday, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said “We are still in the storm, but even in the same storm, we see the sky starting to clear up in the distance," reports the Wall Street Journal.
Toyota says it is setting up regional quality committees to deal more quickly with consumer complaints following the recall of more than 8 million U.S. Toyotas that experienced unintended accelerations.
At the same time, U.S. regulators have launched a new probe into whether Toyota forwarded steering defects in a timely manner. The Transportation Department believes Toyota did not alert U.S. regulators within the five day window after it became aware of steering problems in the 4Runner and T100 trucks in 2004 and 2005.
The company recently paid a $16.4 million civil fine settling federal charges that it hid defects tied to the sudden acceleration issue.
Toyota claims to have fixed more than 3 million vehicles since the recall of about 8 million U.S. cars since last fall.
The automaker says it's fixed about 70% of the 1.6 million problematic vehicles related to the accelerator pedals that stick, 27% the 1.5 million repairs have address the floor mat entrapment problem, and 75% of the 115,000 Prius and Lexus model repairs have related to antilock brake system, reports Consumer Reports.
Consumers are urged to continue bringing their vehicles in for repairs.
Last week, consumer publication, Consumer Reports, lifted its “Don’t Buy” rating from the Lexus GX 460 less than a month after the consumer organization issued the warning. New tests reportedly show that the recall corrected the handling problem after dealers upgraded the electronic stability control software, reports Daily Finance.
Meanwhile the question about whether faulty computer software, raised by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and others, that causes vehicles to accelerate without regard to pedal pressure or operator activity, has still not been answered. In March, U.S. regulators with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced a broad investigation into Toyota’s automotive computer software. A separate 15-month study will be conducted by the National Academy of Sciences.
Toyota denies that its software or electronics systems have anything to do with sudden acceleration.
Black Box Recorders
When Toyota executives were brought in front of Congress to testify, the company had one Event Data Recorder (EDR) readout device to translate technical information from accidents.
Now the company says 150 additional units have been added. The EDRs, along with technical training, will help assist accident investigators looking into cases of unintended acceleration. Ten devices have also been sent to NHTSA to help aid in Toyota and Lexus investigations. #