Toyota to Stick It to the Man as It Readies $1.63 Billion Unintended Acceleration Class Action Settlement

By Jacob Brown | May 14, 2013
A settlement of $1.63 billion for Toyota's 2010 "unintended acceleration" fiasco seems unfathomably high, covering 22 million customers who own or owned an "affected" vehicle during the time the cars were said to have had problems. That works out to right around $74 per customer, though. But Toyota isn't parting with this massive lump of money without its own barb in the side of the settlement class, laying aside $30 million for an automobile safety and research fund. That's right, Toyota is subtly saying that it's laying out $30 million so its drivers aren't brain-dead on the road. There are two reasons for this:
  1. A class action settlement isn't an admission of guilt; it's a means to an end without admitting you're wrong.
  2. Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and NASA checked in on Toyota models and found nothing to be wrong with them. More or less, they said any unintended acceleration accidents happened because of user error.
"This agreement is structured in ways that we believe provide real value to our customers and demonstrate that they can count on Toyota to stand behind our vehicles. We believe that approval of this settlement is in the best interests of all affected parties," Toyota spokeswoman Celeste Miglore said in an interview with the Detroit News.
Paragraphimage Brian Kelley, the former vice president of the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety shot back that the settlement "would pursue long-discredited approaches for changing the behavior of drivers, rather than the safety performance levels of vehicles 'rendered unsafe.'" Kelley added that "Somehow 'educating' drivers will solve the problems brought on by Toyota's misbehavior. This is a dangerous and dishonest assumption." Suffice it to say, we disagree with Kelley. Of the $30 million, $14.2 million will go towards a drivers' education campaign, $15 million would go towards researching active safety features in cars, and $800,000 would go towards a consumer safety study on defensive driving with safety systems. Research would take place at five different universities. Oh yeah, and $200 million are going to lawyers' fees. There was no conclusive evidence that Toyota vehicles had electronic issues. At one point, NASA even looked at solar radiation interfering with electronics. Yet, Toyota still put a brake override in its cars after the witch hunt will shut off a car's engine if it senses the accelerator and brake being used at the same time. What Toyota is doing is a good-faith effort. And while there will be a "fairness hearing" to go over the details on June 14, it's about time this whole thing gets wrapped up and people move on. Source: Detroit News