Dear Ann Coulter: How is Toyota doing?

In March, Ann Coulter was pissed about Obamacare (perhaps because of market forces). In response she laid out her plan for health care found here.

Of note from her plan is this comment:

For those that don’t remember as far back as March: Toyota was having a hard time not killing people. Its popular Prius had an issue where the accelerator would stick, driving people quietly and efficiently to their death. They also had problems with the Lexus and other models recalling over 9million vehicles.

At the time, it seemed like Toyota was doomed. Surely the market would use its enforcement mechanism to do, uh, something. And not only do something, but do it way better than the government ever could.

Except, as far as I can tell Toyota is doing fine. As of October, “Toyota sees US Sept retail auto sales highest in 2 years outside Aug 2009.”

"Lexus brand sales chief smith says he thinks Lexus will maintain top spot in U.S. luxury car sales race with Mercedes but adds ‘time will tell’ " (note that Marcedes didn’t kill anyone during that time)

As as for Europe:

“Toyota Europe’s chief says sales have rebounded from a slump following massive recalls that tainted the automaker’s reputation for quality.”

So is this a ringing endorsement for deregulation? Did the market behave the way Ann Coulter expected it to?

Ann Coulter is an idiot. Actually, she isn’t an idiot. She’s smart, and doesn’t mind telling bullshit lies to make money. She is an entertainer.

As for the Toyota thing, it was an overblown, media created “crisis”. From the wikipedia article:

Except that there really weren’t any problems. As far as I’ve heard, every claim of unintended acceleration that was actually investigated turned out to be something else, including outright fraud, but mostly things like the “senior citizen mistakes pedal” scenario. I’d like to think that Toyota has recovered because people have realized this and the media hype has ebbed.

Since the, uh, lady was assuming that there were genuine problems, but there in fact were not, this is not a good test of her predictive abilities.

ETA: what he said.

“t’s critical to note that the lack of such a throttle kill isn’t a defect. It isn’t Toyota’s responsibility to account for every possible stupid thing people might do in a car.”

This response right here is still enough for me not to want to get in one of their cars. People are stupid, and a regular car does make those same allowances

And I do remember some people proving that, at sufficient speed, the brakes would lose suction, and not be sufficient to stop the car at full throttle. So the problem still theoretically existed, even if no one was actually hurt by it.

Up until now, I’d just assumed that a throttle kill was added to these models, but it sounds to me like they are refusing to do so.

If you asked Coulter this to her face, I imagine her response would be something along the lines of:

“A problem is identified with Toyota cars. The market reacts by not buying the cars. Toyota responds by fixing the defect in existing cars, and changing the design in future models to prevent the problem. The market rewards Toyota’s good behavior by increasing their sales, allowing the business to grow and the economy to expand. The market fixed the problem by itself, without government intervention.”

Note that I don’t know if any of the steps in the scenario are factually true, but it’s not like that’s going to stop Coulter from saying it.

Just in case you really believe that.

So? The '96 Camry he was driving doesn’t even have any of the electronic systems that people have blamed the supposed problems on and nothing even remotely that old was mentioned in any of the complaints. He’s just the luckiest SOB ever that he just so happened to have been driving a Toyota and that this whole media panic struck when it did. (It sounds like the real story was that his initial conviction was something of a bum rap and that the unintended acceleration thing being in the news was a convenient way to overturn it without anyone losing face).

Comparing cars to health care is wrong on so many levels I don’t even know where to begin. I mean let’s just start with “I can move into town and get along without owning a Toyota (or a car at all) but I won’t survive very long without health care (starting with childhood immunizations).” This is like comparing apples to tires.

I wonder what she had to say about Sarah Palin taking her kids to Canada for health care.

From the article:

Note that this is not a finding that Lee’s car suffered from unintended acceleration. The argument is that his lawyer didn’t check to see if it was a possibility.

I don’t really understand how the Prius unintended acceleration issue relates to that case. He was driving an entirely different model of car, and it appears that his problem wasn’t that the car sped out of control, but rather, that he was unable to stop it: in other words, his brakes went out. The judge seems to think that it mattered, but I can’t see the reasoning behind that.

Huh? What are you talking about? Who thought Toyota was doomed? Certainly not the people who actually risk their money in the stock market, since at the height of their crisis Toyota’s stock was down at most only about 15% from its last price of 2009 and 22% from the recent high (and the relative loss of its market cap was even smaller, since the total stock market fell in that time too).

For god’s sake no. Maybe if you are stupid and drag your brakes for a while it is possible to boil your brake fluid, but if you step firmly on your brakes you will stop. In fact the V6 Camry (A Lexus is just a Camry pretending to be posh) at wide open throttle will stop a foot shorter from 70 mph that a Ford Taurus with no problems.

An ordinary car* does not have a throttle cut off. It has a throttle cable that doesn’t care what any of your other controls are doing. It has a throttle cable that is more likely to get stuck than an electronic system. It has a throttle cable that can over-cam and get stuck wide open.

To get in a high speed accident you have to do so many things wrong (refuse to brake, refuse to shift into neutral and then brake) that the UA problem is just mother nature’s way of getting rid of old drivers and people who don’t care enough about driving to do it properly.

  • Ordinary car: noun, American vernacular: any car made without the benefit of the technological accomplishments developed over the last thirty years.

In February it fell from a high of 90 to 72 in a week, and it still trading at that level. Ford on the other hand is up 80% this year.

And so maybe that’s the point here. The American consumer really doesn’t care, or can’t remember. I’m sure a few people more closely involved will swear not to ever drive another Toyota. Just as the few people totally screwed by [health insurance giant] will switch to [other health insurance giant], just as soon as they switch to a different employer who uses a different provider.