Toyota Settles $1.1 Billion Class-Action Lawsuit – Not a Big Deal
The media has been swarming lately with Toyota’s tentative settlement of a class-action lawsuit around the unintended acceleration hub-bub a few years ago. Frankly, it really isn’t that big of a deal. Here’s why.Before we begin, we have to reiterate that the unintended acceleration claim has largely turned out to be bogus. Despite NASA and several National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tests and experiments, no one has been able to replicate the issue. About the only thing that has come out of this issue is that a floor mat might have been to blame.
Now yes, there are plenty of people who say they had an issue with Toyota’s accelerating out of control, we just haven’t had any proof.
Why would Toyota then settle this class-action suit? It is a brilliant Public Relations move. Follow along here, Toyota could argue all day and night that the unintended acceleration issue is a hoax. There is no proof and it is simply driver error. Great, yet, that would mean Toyota is going to piss off a lot of potential customers. Rather, why not settle in a smart way. This way, hopefully those same customers will someday change their mind and come back to Toyota. The settlement really benefits Toyota then.
Look at the details of the settlement for proof of Toyota winning:
- $250 million for customers who sold or turned-in lease vehicles at a loss.
- $250 million in payments for owners whose vehicles can’t use the brake override system
- $200-400 million to retrofit vehicles with brake override system*
- $400 million for extended warranties
- $200 million in court and legal fees
*Toyota will also retrofit a brake override system for its cars and fund new research into advanced safety technologies (win for Toyota).
This list of upgrades, extensions and payments is really Toyota’s way of saying that while we can’t find the problem, we will do whatever we can to stand by our customers. Toyota gets that they can’t win a public relations fight with the public on the problem. However, they can spend a chunk of change to take care of jilted owners.
Don’t mistake what we are saying. Toyota isn’t always perfect and they are prone to making mistakes. However, they have at many times helped out their customers by extending warranties like in the air pump extension and rusted frames. This is really smart on their part. And $1.1 Billion really isn’t that big of a deal in the long-term. Toyota has the money and this will not slow them down.
In the end, the recalls, the media coverage and the extensive testing related to this issue haven’t affected the brand’s image, according to a study, nor have they stopped Toyota from being the largest car maker in the world. Toyota is simply taking the necessary steps to move on from this publicity.
What do you think? Have does this settlement affect Toyota in your mind?
Filed Under: Auto News