Monday, July 13, 2015

Daniel M. Harrison discloses Toyota's SUA recall negotiations with Chinese authorities

Kiss me, T.

I did not know that this writer existed until someone sent me this link two days ago.

Harrison's long piece attempts to cover Toyota's bad acts in many domains, going way beyond SUA but touching on some of the causes of the company's quality problems. The text includes interesting and (to me) very familiar quotes from quite a few Toyota internal documents.  The most interesting of them are meeting minutes from a 2010 negotiation between Toyota and Chinese auto safety regulators that pertained to recalling cars for "floor mats" in China after the Koreans were going to get a recall. Harrison does not disclose the names of the involved men on either side. But I know the names.

I will quote Harrison's quote here because it is in the public domain. I omit his own commentary that you can read in his story.

“Details of Korea Measures Final Version”,
China vs. Toyota - meeting minutes from April, 2010

Toyota to China:
“There is no possibility of similar problems occurring in the floor mats introduced in China.”
China to Toyota:
“Regarding the Korea measures, it is recognized that BOS [break override system] is very important – if Toyota wants to provide it to the customers voluntarily, then we have recognized that the present problem has already exceeded the problem of only the mat,” “However, regarding the present problem, while I think Toyota ought to know best the cause of the problem, I have come to think that it is difficult to accept that the problem is only in the floor mat.”
“To give one example, some Chinese user may replace the original floor mat with a non-original one. Because of this, if we imagine a situation in which the incident of a pedal getting stuck occurs because of that, while safety is preserved if that is a vehicle in which a BOS has been introduced, but the result will be that safety is not preserved if that is a car in which a BOS has not been introduced. Therefore, it is not logical to say that BOS will not be introduced because the problematic original floor mat is not being used,”
“Actually, using non-original floor mats is very common in China. When viewed from this point of view, it is possible to consider that this is a design problem."
"If this becomes a difference in the countermeasures taken, I do not want to imagine what would happen if there is a large scale protest.”
In addition, what do you think the reaction of Chinese consumers [will be like]  when they come to know the details disclosed publicly in Korea?“Although I think Toyota has foreseen this as an aspect of crisis management, in such a situation, of course not only Toyota but even our Administration will be the target of great pressure and we both will be in a very disadvantageous situation.”
Toyota to China:
“Even in Korea, the non-original floor mats were initially considered problematic, but … I have heard that eventually only the cars corresponding to the problematic original floor mats were taken as the targets for taking measures.” “break override systems … are not omnipotent.”
China to Toyota:
“If the Korea information is announced publicly, it will be difficult for Chinese consumers to accept the details of that announcement.”
“However, it is sufficient to show the stance of Toyota about taking the countermeasures, that is, the meaning is that Toyota should announce its stance. When we view this from the point of view of equality, it is not good if the ES350 of Korea is a target but the ES350 of China is not a target. However, never write anything about fairness in your formal documents.”
 “My purpose is to spend the rest of my days in peace.” 

I find Harrison's interpretation to be intriguing and worth reading. NHTSA, if you are reading this, go read Harrison's story.