Toyota Workers Warned of Safety Lapses in 2006
Automaker ignored the signs leading up to crisis
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2010 6:46 AM CST
Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor, Co. addresses Toyota workers during a crisis meeting in Toyota city, central Japan, Friday, March 5, 2010.   (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
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(Newser) – The heads of a major Japanese Toyota union sent the company a memo in 2006 warning company executives that they were taking dangerous safety and quality shortcuts in their rush to meet the growing US demand for small, fuel-efficient vehicles. The letter noted that the company had recalled 5 million cars since 2000, or 36% of all cars sold. It warned that ignoring the problem could “become a great problem that involves the company’s survival.”

“They completely ignored us,” the union’s founder tells the LA Times. “That’s the Toyota way.” He notes that Toyota now only safety tests about 60% of its vehicles; previously it checked them all. Toyota ignored other warnings too, including persistent pressure from Fumio Matsuda, the so-called “Japanese Ralph Nader.” Matsuda claims the company has engaged in “secret recalls” and believes its executives knew about the acceleration defect. “There will eventually be criminal charges,” he predicts.
 

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