Did Toyota try to cover up the acceleration problems?

The following article is from TTAC and it brings up some interesting speculation.

Bloomberg reports that a lawsuit accuses Toyota of a widespread coverup of unintended acceleration in its vehicles. The suit alleges that

“Toyota technicians” confirmed that vehicles were unexpectedly accelerating and the company bought back the vehicles, had customers sign confidentiality agreements and didn’t disclose the problems to regulators… In testimony about acceleration defects before Congress, Toyota Motor Corp. didn’t disclose that the technicians had replicated instances of sudden unintended acceleration not caused by pedals or mats… The company also didn’t report the customer agreements to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration… Toyota ordered employees to remove names of executives from acceleration related e-mails and to stop using specific acceleration terms in e-mails to prevent damage to the company in litigation

Toyota’s response:

Steven Curtis, a spokesman for Toyota’s U.S. sales arm in Torrance, California, said today in an e-mail that no technicians for the company or field specialists confirmed unintended acceleration in vehicles. He said the plaintiffs’ lawyers are referring to service technicians employed by dealerships, which are independent businesses… the claims are based on anecdotes and fail to identify any specific defects in the vehicles.

Plaintiffs claim that dealer techs are “agents of the company” and that vehicle repurchases and confidentiality agreements are proof positive of a coverup. Toyota admits that it investigated and repurchased two vehicles after dealer techs found “acceleration events,” but says its factory technicians were unable to replicate any problems. If this sounds like a complicated mess of he-said-she-said, consider that this suit is just one of 300 currently pending against the world’s largest automaker. The lawyers will probably be busy with this one for decades.

Will Saab survive?

Saab is one sick puppy. Third quarter results are out for the Dutch-Swedish automaker, and they’re not good: the firm has lost $70m on an operating basis last quarter, and has burnt through $160m in the the first nine months of 2010. Wholesale and retail sales in the first three quarters were down by 10 percent and 45 percent respectively compared to the first nine months of 2009, and Saab has cut its 2010 sales projections from 45,000 units to 30,000 units, or half of the 60k projection Saab started 2010 with. Improbably, the company still believes it will sell 80,000 Saabs next year, and 120,000 in 2012. And though Saab-Spyker has a negative equity of about $234m, the company says it does not need to recapitalize.

Is it a curse? Or just the results of a socialist governments meddling in the companies operations. They need an 96 or another standout car to break back into the auto world.

Can Stryker continue to throw money into the historically failure prone Saab? Or will they take what they can of the underlying designs and sell it off?