Toyota Creates Unintended Acceleration A-Team

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Yesterday Toyota announced their new rapid-response S.W.A.T. SMART team to deal with unintended acceleration complaints within 24 hours of being alleged. SMART – which stands for Swift Market Analysis Response Team – is supposed to contact Toyota customers within 24 hours of an unintended acceleration complaint. SMART members will schedule an on-site analysis of the customer’s vehicle, and – if necessary – bring in some Engineers from Japan to look things over.

Toyota creates SMART Team

If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... The SMART Team

No, this is not an April Fool’s joke that’s 8 days late – this is real. Here’s the commentary:

This is probably a “smart” move (pun intended). The acronym sounds more than a little ridiculous, but the concept is solid. If Toyota can convince consumers they’re listening, it’s much easier to deflect criticism that they don’t care.

It slows down the lawsuits. Not only are people less likely to sue if they think Toyota is taking action, but it’s much harder for an attorney to prove damages to their client if Toyota had someone on the way to the customer’s home or business to inspect their car ASAP.

Too bad Toyota engineers have better things to do. Most of the time, unintended acceleration ‘events’ are just people pushing on the wrong pedal. It’s human and natural in a panic situation to push the wrong pedal, and Toyota shouldn’t need to fly someone out from Japan to make Mrs. Johnson feel better about almost running over her cat.

The concept works in terms of P.R. Toyota sent out “SMART” members to the scene of a crash in New York (proven to be driver error) and San Diego (likely faked), and they turned the public relations tide in both of these incidents.

Score one for the SMART team.

Filed Under: Auto News


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  1. Justin says:

    Well, I just happened across this article by your favorite media source (LA Times) and thought I’d share. Kind of gives us an idea on items Exponent has done in the past for other companies. The below quote is very interesting:
    But the tests described by Exponent did not appear to duplicate the sophisticated methods that automotive engineers say are needed to ensure that electromagnetic interference does not cause failure of the hardware or software of engine controls. Indeed, Exponent did not say it placed any Toyota vehicle in a test chamber that automakers routinely use to bombard cars with high-powered electromagnetic signals known to disrupt automotive electronics.

    Cindy Sage, an environmental consultant in Santa Barbara who specializes in electromagnetic interference, said that much more extensive testing than described in the report would be necessary to find a potential problem.

    Sage, who has faced off against Exponent witnesses on safety issues in the past, said Toyota’s hiring of Exponent was telling.

    “The first thing you know is that when Exponent is brought in to help a company, that company is in big trouble,” she said.

  2. TXTee says:

    SMART team sounds like too little too late. They are slammed with bad pubilicity left and right. This just needs time to blow over like all other major blow ups. And hopefully people aren’t really getting hurt by any vehicle malfunctions.

  3. Mickey says:

    Better than what they were doing before.

  4. Jason says:

    Justin – I’ve had an email exchange with Ken Bensinger, and while I believe he’s a smart guy I think he’s got an axe to grind. He’s worked hard to discredit Toyota’s testing efforts and Exponent, yet he seems willing to report Sean Kane’s statements as fact. I think it’s fundamentally wrong to say that Exponent is flawed because they work for big business while quoting Kane as an expert (despite the fact Kane is paid by litigators intent on suing Toyota).
    As for the cosmic rays argument, I think it’s fascinating. One question: If space rays are the cause of unintended acceleration, what are the chances that this same problem effects manufacturers other than Toyota? Did you see the NPR data I linked to on your other comments? VW-Audi, Suzuki, Jaguar, and Land Rover might have the same problem.
    TXTee – Agreed. Still, as Mickey says, it’s better than nothing…

  5. rdtb says:

    So now they want to do somthing, that’s convinent. Can the SMART team explain what’s causing this issue? If they can’t how do they know what they are looking for?

  6. Jason says:

    rdtb – I think this is somewhat gimmicky, but the idea is that Toyota has teams ready to roll that will pull computer codes, like at the data recorder (if a crash has taken place), and then assist the investigators if needed. More than anything else, it’s a way for Toyota to prove to their customers they take these complaints seriously. To answer your question, they can’t find a problem if one doesn’t exist.

  7. mk says:

    This whole recalled gas pedal issue is a conspiracy by the govt. to downgrade toyota’s quality and is not real. They want the big 3, mostly gm and chrysler, to get a profit for once in the past few years to get some of their money back they invested so they do not get into a gazillion instead of trillions of more debt. I understand competition is a good thing, but a govt. bailout on a company is just not right. Even the cash for clunkers program was a farce and not handled very well since I wanted to take advantage of the gimmick and never got a response back from NHTSA or the govt. when called and could not get thru. Dealers did not care because cars were flying off the shelves and they did NOT have to discount their vehicles down to near invoice to sell them. All it did was promote new car sales at the expense of the majority that could not afford them in the first place. I think pollution was 2nd in line to stimulating car sales for the dealers in the dire hopes which of course did not work to stimulate the economy.

  8. mk says:

    Man, I miss the A-team shows from I think was it the 80’s? Good times! Oh wait, good times was with JJ and Michael and others from the 70’s, man I am old??

  9. Jason says:

    mk – Yes, you sound a little old to me. lol. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is a conspiracy – Toyota clearly made some mistakes in engineering and safety. However, I’ll certainly agree there’s a political aspect to bashing Toyota that’s good for a lot of the people in office right now. The UAW eats that type of thing up, and it’s no secret the current administration is pro-union.

  10. Mickey says:

    mk you forgot to get a note from epstien’s mom on welcome back Kotter.

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