We will have analysis of day one's Toyota Testimony (available in full here) and we'll try to liveblog today's events. Stream available here. Some documents are becoming available and we'll post as we can. You can always check the Committee's website too.
Chairman Towns - Opening Remarks.*.pdf
Sec. LaHood - Prepared Testimony *.pdf
Mr. Akio Toyoda - Prepared Testimony *.pdf
Mr. Yoshimi Inaba - Prepared Testimony *.pdf
Ms. Joan Claybrook - Prepared Testimony *.pdf
***MAKE SURE YOU REFRESH YOUR BROWSER FROM TIME TO TIME IF YOU ARE FOLLOWING ALONG.***
5:45pm - Mrs. Lastrella is testifying and it is very emotional. I really hope Toyodasan hasn't left yet and hears this testimony.
5:32pm - It appears clear to me that the staffers on the majority at least have found lots of Tacoma instances. That's reading between the lines folks!
5:23pm - Rep. Clay (D-MO) follows up the electronic problem question. Mr. Toyoda has said today that he is certain the problem is not electronic. Then why, asks Rep. Clay, are you including a software fix and did you hear the testimony yesterday saying there was an electronic problem? FWIW, we're losing this argument in its semantics and translation issues. Toyoda says "thus far" there is no electronic problem found. He says he heard Dr. Gilbert's testimony, but doesn't know details. He emphasizes this isn't about who is right or wrong, but we need to conduct more tests and extend cooperation. Inaba says he is happy to meet with Dr. Gilbert. Wasn't this on ABC news last folks? They are talking about the Gilbert test like its some sort of black op or something. Inaba says this is intended manipulation, not an unintended acceleration test. Of course, that's the point of the test. Come on. This is like saying you can't prove gravity unless you're in space.
5:15pm - Rep. Kaptur (D-OH) starts by ripping into Toyoda. "Where is the remorse" invoking the death of a Michigan woman who tried to stand on the brakes in order to stop it. Unfortnately, Rep. Kaptur thinks NHTSA is actually NISHTA, which is a whole different thing. She's bringing up the Toyota Way book. "How did Toyota lose its way? You say your company grew too fast. Some smart lawyers gave you those words." Sounds like a prelude to panel III. "Isn't the Toyota way to push deregulation?" Toyoda's response: "our people may have not kept pace with expansion." He says he is going to transform the Toyota business. Lots of transformation talked about today, as well as trips to Japan. Maybe if we agree to have a transformative trip to Japan? Some of this is really silly, and Rep. Kaptur was obviously doing her best to make sure the sober seriousness is not lost in the talking points.
5:07pm - Rep. Speier (D-CA) expresses dismay that Toyoda didn't know that NHTSA came over to Japan. Toyoda says its true. Speier asks for all docs, memos, etc. that came from that meeting. He says he will do so. Someone needs to tell the committee staffers to keep their reps asking for memos, and docs, because apparently Mr. Toyoda cannot say no. Speier says I hope you will never use excuse that this is driver error ever again. Yikes! Isn't that their stated defense? Mr. Toyoda promises to never never link customer fault going forward. That could hurt. Well done Rep. Speier. Seems to have gotten some really good concessions from the witnesses late in the day. Does Mr. Toyoda not understand that Toyota's official position is that ALL of the cases of injuries in SUAs are the result of driver error? This is a pretty big deal that he promises never to make that argument again.
4:54pm - Toyoda agrees that NHTSA should ask manufacturers to report problems worldwide instead of just inside this country and agrees to assist in doing that. I get the feeling that the initial testimony was vetted nearly as carefully as the talking points are being vetted. Not sure why almost every Congressman on this panel feels the necessity to start off saying: "now I've owned Toyotas." Or "my wife drives a Lexus" but... Are we getting ready for an "If by Toyota" speech? Mr. Toyoda is still apologizing... and still feeling regret. Toyoda says to the question of why it took so long to act, "we're setting up a committee." Who said they didn't know Washington lingo?
3:44pm - Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) asks Mr. Toyoda what he's learned. There was an interesting moment there prior to this in Inaba's Q&A about the Santee crash. Toyoda is now speaking about what he's learned, and its hard to hear because the buzzers are going off for the next vote. I think this is like the 3rd or 4th interruption today.
3:37pm - Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY) reps the area where Toyota's major N. American presence is located. He's really talking about how great Toyota is, how much we've all learned from them. And he says we all need to remember that Toyota is doing a great job here by "taking responsibility" for this and holding themselves "accountable." We'll have more to say on this, but I haven't seen Toyota "take responsibility" for a single instance of SUA yet. I've seen them apologize, but they haven't taken responsibility.
3:29pm - Some interesting questions about awareness of Mr. Toyoda and the problems related to SUA. Rep. Connolly is doing the questioning here. Says that Mr. Toyoda is contradicting Sec. LaHood's testimony. Asks Toyoda for clarification. Mr. Toyoda dodges, says someone else was in charge of that. Connolly: "what did we know and when did we know it?" Btw, the old saying from my days working on the Hill was that once they start asking that question, you're in trouble. Asks Inaba what was meant by "secured favorable ruling" in the Toyota docs.
3:18pm - Some technical difficulties on our end... so our coverage between 2:20pm and now is kapoof. Looks like Rep. Mica is back. From our perspective, this testimony has been extremely boring. Kanjorski made some great points, but we've really just been talking about how bad all this is and very little about how to fix this going forward and make sure it doesn't happen again. Mica is just shocked, shocked to see that "no defect found" is in Toyota's list of "wins". Not sure if Mica thinks anyone is buying this. Inaba responds. Once to straighten facts. I just got on the job. Mica points out he'd been working for Toyota 40 years. It is a shocking statement to have this in your corporate presentation that its a "win" to kill a product defect investigation. But I'd be surprised if other car companies don't have similar statements in similar instances. Mr. Toyoda claims he knows nothing about such documents. But he is upset about them. Should not be looked at as the type of thing that Toyota endorses. Looks like another vote is being called. So Del. Norton is back in the chair.
2:20pm - We're back. Toyota's representatives are sworn in. Mr. Toyoda and Mr. Inaba. Chairman Towns begins with remarks, noting this is a voluntary appearance by Mr. Toyoda. Giving Mr. Toyoda a little more time. There is a translator available, though I believe Mr. Toyoda is widely known as fluent in English. His prepared testimony is linked above, which he is reading from now.
1:07pm - We are taking a break. The testimony is still going on. We'll be back when Mr. Toyoda begins his testimony.
***EARLIER COVERAGE CONTINUES ON THE FLIP***