One implication is that DOJ is punishing Toyota for a problem that never existed, while failing to punish Toyota for the real problem.
This implies that Toyota, although being punished for deceiving both its customers and the government, has succeeded in deceiving its customers and the government about what really went wrong.
A further, even more serious implication, is that Toyota — having diverted attention to a mechanical problem that might not exist — is under no pressure to correct an electronic problem which — if Michael Barr's expert testimony and exhaustive proofs are accurate — poses far greater and more lingering danger than misplaced floor mats and sticky gas pedals.
A further implication, and a huge relief for Toyota, is cost. No matter how many are deemed faulty, the cost to Toyota of fixing a whole bunch of mats and pedals is far, far cheaper than if Toyota had to re-write its software code and re-design its electronic controls. By accepting Toyota's diagnosis — however belated — without considering Michael Barr's findings, DOJ might indeed be saving Toyota a fortune much greater than the $1.2 billion fine you have so impressively levied.
That's the situation. My questions:
Is the DOJ aware of the evidence presented and the jury's verdict in Bookout v. Toyota?
If so, why was this evidence not considered — or even mentioned — as part of DOJ's judgment against Toyota?
Has anyone at DOJ spoken to Michael Barr?
If so, why not?
Finally, and simply, I'd appreciate it if you can respond to the statements I've written here and help me to understand why you've done what you've done. While your actions to sanction Toyota are commendable, they seem to be incomplete and, to some extent, misdirected. I need to know if you consider the case closed or still in progress. If the latter, what comes next?
— David Benjamin is a freelance writer for EE Times.