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Check out Mike’s article on Forbes,
Toyota Hybrid Horror Hoax
Exploring an overblown media frenzy.
Virtually every aspect of Sikes’s story as told to reporters makes no sense. His claim that he’d tried to yank up the accelerator could be falsified, with his help, in half a minute. And now we even have an explanation for why he’d pull such a stunt, beyond the all-American desire to have 15 minutes of fame (recall the “Balloon Boy Hoax” from October) and the aching need to be perceived as a victim.
The lack of skepticism from the beginning was stunning. I combed through haystacks of articles without producing such needles as the words “alleges” or “claims.” When Sikes said he brought his car to a Toyota ( TM – news – people ) dealer two weeks earlier, recall notice in hand, and they just turned him away, the media bought that, too. In Sikes We Trust. Then the pundits deluged us with a tsunami of an anti-Toyota sanctimony .
Where to begin?
Well, the patrol car didn’t slow down the Prius; the bumpers never touched. The officers used a loudspeaker to tell Sikes to use the brakes and emergency brake together. He did; the car slowed to about 55 mph. Sikes turned off the engine and coasted to a halt. He stopped the car on his own.
There wasn’t anything wrong with the transmission or the Prius engine button either.
Over a 23-minute period the 911 dispatcher repeatedly pleaded with Sikes to shift into neutral. He simply refused and then essentially stopped talking to her except to say that he thought he could smell his brakes burning.
“I thought about” shifting into neutral, Sikes said at a televised press conference the day after the incident. But “I had never played with this kind of a transmission, especially when you’re driving and I was actually afraid to do that.” Sikes, who has driven the car for two years, also said “I figured if I knocked it over [the gear knob] the car might flip.”
You must read the whole article.
As I said before, the government has a clear conflict of interest and now Toyota’s being scapegoated.
In the WSJ today:
Toyota to Recall Prius Models Including One in Runaway Incident
Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday that the Prius involved in a highly publicized acceleration incident on a California freeway along with many others will be the subject of a future recall to prevent floor mats from pinning down the gas pedal.
Allow me one question, please, but how much of this panic is due to the government’s conflict of interest intervening against Toyota, or on drivers who can’t figure out on their own that the floor mat is pinning down the gas pedal?
What happens when the government has a vested interest in a carmaker?
Brian Johnson writes on Toyota and the Union-Backed Government-Led Witch Hunt
There was no government outcry and no demand for Congressional hearings over these [Honda and Ford] recent recalls. So why has Toyota suddenly become the target of a government-led witch hunt?
Toyota’s U.S. operations are extremely successful, not saturated by inefficient union monopolies, and are in direct competition with the now government-owned General Motors.
From their first U.S. factory in 1988, the Japanese company’s success in the U.S. is extraordinary. In 2003, the Camry became the best-selling car in the U.S. and still is. In 2005, Fortune magazine stated: “By nearly every measure, Toyota is the world’s best auto manufacturer. It may be the world’s best manufacturer, period.” In 2006, Toyota became the third-biggest seller of cars and trucks in the U.S. In 2007, Toyota captured second place in the U.S. market, replacing Ford, which had held the No. 2 position since 1931. In 2008, as GM declined and temporarily avoided bankruptcy, Toyota surpassed their unionized competitor becoming the largest automaker in the world.
Toyota’s ability to ascend, while others plummeted, lies in their philosophy based on efficiency and productivity called “The Toyota Way.” This corporate philosophy is not anti-union, rather based on the principle of “kaizen” which means “continuous improvement.” This principle seeks complete quality management by improving local work environments and raising productivity. It empowers executives and plant employees, who are famously authorized by Toyota to stop the assembly line to quickly solve any problems based on their own discretion. Such practices are never heard of and often forbade in other highly unionized automobile facilities.
In fact, the differences in efficiency and productivity (and why the unions are determined to penetrate Toyota’s workforce), do not stop there. When GM fired over 35,000 employees between 2006 and 2008, Toyota laid off zero. GM loses almost $2,500 in profitability per vehicle where Toyota makes almost $1,500 per vehicle. This is largely due to GM’s forced union contracts. GM’s union, the United Auto Workers (UAW) mandates that GM pay, on average, each non-skilled line worker about $33 dollars per hour. This inflated wage includes workers who are “idle,” meaning they don’t have a specific job that day, but can still come to work, sit in a special facility and collect a pay check.
These artificially inflated costs, bound by forced union contracts, are sinking other US auto industries. Toyota has managed to rise above that, not by being anti-union, but by believing in and enforcing a corporate-wide model based on efficiency and improvement.
Now, the agents of the government, which controls GM, are publicly castigating Toyota in an attempt to smear the company and increase their own profitability. As a direct competitor with Toyota by way of involvement with GM, the assault against Toyota represents one of the most public conflicts of interests the business world has experienced.
Go read the rest.
So Hugo Chavez purchases five new police cars, which were parading as a caravan towards the governor’s office at the state of Bolivar in Puerto Ordaz, when the policeman driving the head car of the caravan sees a policeman lying on the street (I kid you not), and slams the brakes.
A chain reaction ensues, and all five police cars are totaled.
Couldn’t make it up had I tried.
Gets even better!
Jungle Mom clarifies that “policia acostado” is Venezuelan slang for speed bump.
So the pileup happened when the lead car hit the speed bump.
BlogHer has this post with practical advice, 10 Things Every Woman Should Have in Her Car. All well and good, but since I don’t have a dog I would replace item
5) Dog treats and a spare leash. If you’re not an animal lover I suppose you could skip this one… but, um, ever read Cujo? The chances of having to distract an angry dog are probably slim, but having Milkbones handy is never a bad idea. (Bonus: If you have a dog, yourself, you’ll probably be glad to have a treat handy at some point when your pooch is in tow.)
As for the spare leash, well, it’s possible I’m paranoid. But again, it’s not like it takes up a lot of room….
with an armed bodyguard guy with a carry-concealed permit who’s also a licensed auto mechanic.
Barring that, ignore the dog and stay in the stupid car until AAA gets there.
The Economist has a brief case study of automotive ineptitude
SELDOM, since the day Adolf Hitler gave the order to produce the Volkswagen, has a car been given such an explicitly ideological mission. But the vehicles that roll, occasionally, off the production line at Venirauto’s factory, west of Caracas, will free Venezuelans from the “yoke of capitalism,” declares President Hugo Chávez. The factory was opened with great fanfare by the president three years ago. It is a joint venture between Iran and Venezuela, which Mr Chávez predicts will turn his country into a car exporter. It is also intended to be an example of socialist production principles, although its workers see things a little differently.
In December they downed tools over the company’s refusal to negotiate a collective contract. Their wages, even at the grossly overvalued official exchange rate, are worth around $25 a day. They complained of poor safety conditions and exploitative work practices. Their supposedly socialist employer refuses to recognise trade unions and has ignored the labour ministry’s order to reinstate sacked union activists.
Venirauto’s cars are rehashes of clapped-out 1980s models from the imperialist West. The Turpial, a five-door hatchback, is based on the Ford Festiva, while the Centauro saloon is a clone of the Peugeot 405, though both are fitted with a conversion kit allowing them to run on natural gas. Their capitalist-busting claims are based on price: they undercut rival models by around 50%. If you can get one, that is.
This is what a Turpial looks like:
And a Centauro:
The Economist continues,
Perhaps it is just as well that the 30,000 customers the government says are waiting for an anti-capitalist car should learn to do without one.
Of course Chávez is ready to preach by example:
When not praising the Turpial and the Centauro, Mr Chávez has been known to rail against the whole concept of car ownership. “The urge to get a car,” he told students on one occasion, “is poison to the human soul”. With that, he got into his limousine and rode off.
Yet another way the Obama administration is wasting your money:
Cash for Clubbers
Congress’s fabulous golf cart stimulus.
The federal credit provides from $4,200 to $5,500 for the purchase of an electric vehicle, and when it is combined with similar incentive plans in many states the tax credits can pay for nearly the entire cost of a golf cart. Even in states that don’t have their own tax rebate plans, the federal credit is generous enough to pay for half or even two-thirds of the average sticker price of a cart, which is typically in the range of $8,000 to $10,000. “The purchase of some models could be absolutely free,” Roger Gaddis of Ada Electric Cars in Oklahoma said earlier this year. “Is that about the coolest thing you’ve ever heard?”
is it taxed both as income and as a purchase? Doesn’t look like it. The WSJ continues,
The IRS has also ruled that there’s no limit to how many electric cars an individual can buy, so some enterprising profiteers are stocking up on multiple carts while the federal credit lasts, in order to resell them at a profit later.
What it comes down to is this:
This golf-cart fiasco perfectly illustrates tax policy in the age of Obama, when politicians dole out credits and loopholes for everything from plug-in cars to fuel efficient appliances, home insulation and vitamins. Democrats then insist that to pay for these absurdities they have no choice but to raise tax rates on other things—like work and investment—that aren’t politically in vogue. If this keeps up, it’ll soon make more sense to retire and play golf than work for living.
Retire and tango!
Prior cash for clunkers posts.