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The White House vs. Toyota
The Obama administration is hammering Toyota over its safety recalls — is it trying to help U.S. car makers?
 
Publicity mavens think Toyota can salvage its excellent brand image - if company leaders act fast.
Publicity mavens think Toyota can salvage its excellent brand image - if company leaders act fast.
Corbis/Toyota

The Obama administration quickly backpedaled last week after Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said owners of recalled Toyotas should "stop driving" their cars. LaHood later claimed he misspoke, and the White House now insists it isn't bashing Toyota to help General Motors and Chrysler, which the government partly owns thanks to the Detroit bailouts. But LaHood's comment has added to Toyota's growing image problem as it tries address safety concerns on millions of cars in the U.S., costing the company an estimated $2 billion. Is the Obama administration criticizing Toyota to help American automakers? (Watch Ray LaHood's Toyota warning)

No. Toyota needed a push: Ray LaHood's "tough stance" on Toyota is welcome, say the editors of the Las Vegas Sun. The company has been receiving complaints about potentially deadly sticking accelerators for years, but it was "lax" about fixing the problem until the Obama administration started pushing.
"A message to Toyota"

Yes, the White House attacked Toyota for selfish reasons: The administration says it's not declaring economic war on Toyota, says Terence Corcoran in the Financial Post, but the "denial lacks credibility." There are millions of Toyotas on the roads, and only a few hundred "anecdotal" reports of sticking accelerators. The administration is exploiting the situation to give U.S. automakers a boost with consumers.
"The war on Toyota"

Warning motorists is the right thing to do: All Ray LaHood meant was that people should get their recalled Toyotas fixed, says Daniel Farber in CBSNews.com. Telling someone to think twice before "driving their potentially lethal vehicles" isn't industrial sabotage — it's common sense.
"Ray LaHood comments show Toyota owners' conundrum"

The timing is suspect: Federal safety regulators knew about Toyotas sudden acceleration complaints last year, says Dan Riehl in Riehl World View, but concluded the vehicles probably didn't have a defect. Then the government pumped "big bucks" into GMAC, GM's financing arm, and suddenly the White House is "ordering Toyota to recall vehicles that might not even need to be recalled?" The timing is fishy.
"Obama admin ignored Toyota issues before cracking down"

 

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