Another excellent article from EE Times and its reporters. Thanks for following Toyota's sudden unintended acceleration problems and exposing the facts.
With a 60 billion dollar stash of cash, the Recall King isn't worried about a few billion bucks to settle lawsuits and buy its way out of a federal criminal case. The REAL story - which EE Times has done a SUPERB job of reporting - is about renowned embedded systems expert Michael Barr finding bugs in Toyota's electronic throttle control software, prompting the guilty verdict in Oklahoma (there was also that pesky evidence of 150 feet of skid marks from the plaintiff's tires), the billion dollar economic loss settlement in December of 2012, and Toyota's current interest in out-of-court settlements for remaining lawsuits and criminal complaints regarding sudden unintended acceleration. Mainstream media is doing everything it can to keep Michael Barr's findings quiet.
I learned my lesson about the Recall King when the engine disintegrated in my MR2 Spyder. Owners' complaints have been all over the Internet for years, Toyota continues to stonewall. Been bloggin' 'bout Toyota at http://www.uc2.blogspot.com
Thanks for the compliments, Parris. Junko Yoshida has been really on the ball with this story.
I think it will be particularly interesting to see what the feds find out from looking into Toyota's PR practices. I suspect that this slap on the wrist might not change a whole lot for Toyota, long term.
Thanks for the link, ajawamnet. I hadn't seen the document re a NASA investigation of tin whiskers. Wow. I've heard that much of NASA's Toyota-related investigation is being kept secret. I don't doubt it.
Our corporate-controlled government is determined to keep things quiet regarding any evidence that electronics is involved in sudden unintended acceleration. The mainstream media news blackout continues re Michael Barr's findings, and the federal criminal settlement is designed - I'd say intentionally - to promote the notion that it's all about floor mats and sticky pedals. Junko Yoshida addressed the DoJ's behavior most admirably in her 3/27/2014 10:39:16 comment.
How utterly ridiculous can a corporate-controlled government get? Rake in a cool billion point two bucks wortha payola for ending a criminal probe, ignore evidence of electronic problems, and hardly scratch the financial surface of a corporate culprit-at-large. It's gotta be hard for mainstream media, NHTSA, and Holder to keep a straight face.
Dr. Henning Leidecker, the NASA tin whiskers expert, was interviewed on camera some weeks ago by one of Israel's top investigative TV journalists Yigal Mosko for our Channel 2 top news show, Ulpan Shishi. This 15 minute piece was mainly about my own efforts, but fortunately included also interviews of others, not only Dr. Leidecker, but also of Cole Portis, the lawyer who won the Bookout case, and some background of the entire SUA problem.
You can see the video here. It is 2/3 in Hebrew but FWIW:
Dr. Leidecker discusses the causal relationship between tin whiskers and vehicle misbehavior. He said much more in the actual interview, all great stuff, but only a portion got into this news show.
Yes, this is a nice little wrist slap that leaves owners of Camrys with defective ECMs out in the cold - unless they happen to have an accident due to the defect - in which case they, their passengers and others may be killed or injured.
Nobody is forcing Toyota to either buy back these defective vehicles or correct the underlying defect.
A slap on the wrist, indeed - more like a golden handshake.
...uhhhh, settlement, yeah, I mean settlement for Atourney Specific Holder. Actually I like better another word. One that rhymes with dakeshown. Let's see, only 17 thousand more of these billion dollar "settlements" and he'll have plugged the hole in his boss' national debt number. All while delivering a body-blow to Governement Motors main competitor for the Volt. Score!
Sorry for the blunt cynicism folks but it seems like this is what he meant by "great deal more" is in his proud proclaimation that "This agreement will enable us to accomplish a great deal more than we otherwise would have." None of us should be happy about this. It's agressive government behavior that should trouble everyone. No one outside of govt will see a dime of this money. It serves no one but A.S. Holder. Toyota will pay their price at the market. (They'll never see a dime of my money, btw. Recalls asside, I've never been more bored by a company's products.)
Recalls asside, I've never been more bored by a company's products.
That made me smile okay.
I have to agree that this "settlement" doesn't fix a d*mned thing. For one thing, unless I read the article too fast, there was no mention of getting to the bottom of the supposed flaw in the Task X implementation. If it's real, if Barr was not just blowing smoke, then when is it going to get fixed? And if it's false, then why isn't Barr being sued? If I owned a Toyota, I would want to know.
The public at large is still totally oblivious of the Task X issue. They go on repeating the urban myth of how much better these cars are than any other on the road.
As far as I can tell, this is just lawyers getting rich, and nothing being corrected.
Note that it was not just Michael Barr. Phil Koopman of Carnegie Mellon was also involved in analyzing the software. With two well-known embedded system experts involved, my confidence in their conclusions is pretty high. It is sad that the mainstream media still focuses on floor mats.
When this news broke, I was travelling in China. And I kept thinking that this thing won't solve the real issue here.
DoJ made its judgement against Toyota based on Toyota's initial cover-up -- "it's the floor mat, it's the sticky pedal!"
So, as you say, at a time when the most public isn't even aware of the software issue (as proven in the Oklahoma case), DoJ knowingly or unknowingly legitimized Toyota's initial execuse, and helped Toyota cover up even a bigger software glitch issue. Well, at least, that's what it seems to me. Am I wrong about this???
Junko, you (and Bert) are right on target!!! The DOJ is most certainly avoiding the electronics issue, this has been one of my major concerns, and I'm delighted to see you address the situation. Keep up the superb journalism.
I'm looking forward to the upcoming EE Times conference featuring Michael Barr.
@junko.yoshida - Thanks ever so much for mentioning David Benjamin's article "DOJ on Toyota Software Problem: No Comment." Absolute MASTERPIECE - I've referenced it more than once on my blog.
Caught red-handed in the GM scandal, NHTSA has been exposed as a front for corporate interests, and the Justice Department is lookin' worse by the day as the truth leaks out about electronic issues associated with unintended acceleration in Toyotas. I'm delighted that NASA physicist Dr. Henning Leidecker is now speaking out about tin whiskers increasing the risk of unintended acceleration in '02-'06 Camrys.
The docs I got in the translation project for Debevoise & Plimpton, Toyota's defense law firm representing them to the DOJ, were mainly about sticky pedals, floor mats, and floor pans, and the PR efforts made to appease the public. And among them were some really hotly incriminating docs about how Toyota deliberately misled NHTSA. We know this now in public becasue the DOJ's "Statement of Facts" parallels almost exactly the content of most of the docs they were given to me indirectly by D&P lawyers on behalf of Toyota.
However, in very late 2011 and early 2012, after nearly a year of translating material almost entirely devoid of electronics related content, except for a few hideous smoking gun sentences that slipped through here and there, I received a batch of 230 documents that were translated separately and apparently held aside. These were far more involved with electronics.
I wonder what happened to them. Did D&P hold onto them? Did they turn them over to the DOJ and the DOJ discounted them? Certainly they were not compelling proof of electronics defects all by themselves, but the DOJ can subpoena anyone it wants.
Around 6 weeks go, after the first WSJ leak article of the pending settlement, I contacted the DOJ and offered them the docs, thinking, well, they probably have them already. But if some were withheld, maybe they would like to know that. they checked with their colleagues and a week or so later they asked me for details on how to access them, and I provided those, and my impression was that they had been given an OK to review those documents. They included the electronics related docs and some also from the MDL that I had translated, and those were some evidence of electronics-related monkey business / cover-up. At that time, during the phone call where they asked the details of where they could access the docs...this was around perhaps five weeks ago, I pressed them to investigate Michael Barr's findings because these were extremely relevant to the Toyota cover-up of the electronics. There was one investigator on the phone along with the senior prosecutor. When I spoke of Barr, the investigator asked (and this was his only question to me during the whole phone call), "How do you spell Barr's name?" In shock, I spelled Barr's name for him. Later, I confirmed from other sources that up to that point the DOJ had apparently not gone in that direction at all.
What is going on in the United States of America that Toyota is able to employ even the DOJ in the service of its cover-up? My disappointment is profound.
The untold details of Toyota SUA, electronics, revealing documents, and my struggle for truth could now fill a book. So I am getting set to write one. The topic deserves expert planning and a big publisher, so I am raising funds to plan it out and propose it to publishers. Here's the Indiegogo page where I set up the fundraising campaign. Please consider supporting this project with either money or information. Any engineers with insights? Please let me know.
Car makers are more worried about -ve publicity than the fine. The fine typically mean to encourage car makers to do a better job in finding out the root cause than to actually hurt the company finanically. No doubt, $1.2B has made enough sound that Toyota has to sell million of car to make it back.
As vehicles become more intelligence, which equip with all kind of sensors and MCUs. The challenges of making sure safety first in embedding programming will become crucial. The reliability and stability of the MCUs are one of the foundations.
Thank you for the detailed coverage of this news from EE Times.