Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Recalls and Risk - An Update

An update of the NHTSA data pursuant to the Toyota sudden acceleration complaints indicates that the complaint rates of Toyota are now approximately 4 times higher than the nearest rival manufacturer (Ford). Surely, part of this is due to complaint contagion, but not all... .

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John Aquino said...

Those statistics look bad taken in isolation but there are some factors to consider:

1) What are the NHTSA fatality rates for these vehicles overall? If Toyota's are as safe or safer than other vehicles, is it reasonable to leave that point out in the discussion.

2) There is a clear interest of government in knocking down Toyota given its equity stakes in GM and Chrysler. Any report from NHTSA should at least acknowledge the appearance of a conflict of interest in its reports as a supposed seeker of the truth when its ultimate parent has a large financial stake in Toyota's competitors.

John Aquino said...

I could not leave this point without some work on the fatality question. The NHTSA web site does not readily provide fatality statistics by make and model. Interesting, we can get reports of sudden acceleration my make but not fatalities. This is probably not true. But apparently NHTSA does not want us to focus on how safe cars are, but rather to focus on why we should not buy Toyota.

However the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does publish reports of this kind. Here is a link I found:


I looked this report over and it appears on casual inspection, that Toyota fatality rates for this period were at the low end of the range in each of the vehicle categories.

So why is the federal government sounding the Toyota alarm?

The conflict of interest argument now seems more plausible.