U.S. Transportation Safety chief Ray “Toyotas are unsafe” LaHood announced today that his agency had no evidence that electronics were to blame for runaway Toyota vehicles.
How do you say “I told you so” in Japanese?
LaHood’s admission comes a year after a mob of Democrat pols, tort lawyers, and regulators –including LaHood — held Congressional show trials tarring Toyota for building “killing machines” in anticipation of a windfall for trial lawyers from a whole new class of electronics-related lawsuits.
This lynching wasn’t just about Toyota — it was an effort to expose every automaker (accelerators have been electronic on most vehicles for a decade) to a new liability threat.
Last March, LaHood and safety vulture Clarence Ditlow with the Center for Auto Safety suggested — with no evidence — that Toyotas’ sudden acceleration might only be solved with mandated electronic-override systems. Ditlow told the Senate Transportation Committee that “the Toyota unintended acceleration crisis” had been caused by “electronic controls.” His solution? “First and foremost, Toyota needs to install electronic brake override systems in all vehicles with electronic throttle control.”
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns (D., N.Y.) altered “smoking gun” legal documents alleging Toyota deliberately withheld documents proving its guilt.
Rep. Bobby Rush (D., Ill.) called Toyotas “killing machines” and Henry Waxman (D., Calif.) orchestrated testimony from tort lawyer mouthpieces like Sean Kane, Joan Claybrook, and Ditlow to seed public panic.
ABC reporter Brain Ross faked – faked! – footage to try and show that a Toyota Avalon had electronic-induced acceleration defect.
Toyota was hardly blameless for sudden-acceleration incidents that led to an unprecedented recall of 11 million vehicles worldwide. But the company was correct that its troubles were caused by sticky accelerator pedals and trapped floor mats — confirmed by NHTSA today — not “gremlins” in the electronics.
“The jury is back. The verdict is in. There is no electronic-based cause for unintended high-speed acceleration in Toyotas. Period,” said LaHood in a prepared statement.
That’s a far cry from his panicked statement a year ago that Toyotas were “unsafe” to drive — a gross error that he should pay for with his job in the wake of today’s report.