GOVERNMENT MOTORS GANGS UP: Do you have a Toyota Prius or Lexus in your fleet or maybe several? Did you go out and buy it in order to meet the demands of your customers who want to ride green? I am flabbergasted by what’s going on in our government and the media lately.
We live in a world that constantly admonishes the American public about our consumption of petrochemicals and our carbon footprints. As the most benevolent society on earth, we have responded to the world and its criticisms. We have purchased greener homes, greener vehicles, and greener products, whatever it takes. Now Toyota, a provider of many of those green vehicles, is under assault. How is that a good thing?
With the way that the media and the government are attacking Toyota, you would think that these ne’er-do-wells had intentionally launched a safety assault on an unsuspecting American public. Toyota has acknowledged it made mistakes and responded too slowly to the problem. They didn’t publicly address issues before the problem emerged in the headlines, and failed to make any public statements for weeks. Toyota owns up to that, as it should.
All of this has lead to a semi-panic among Toyota motorists, which is further fueled by the Internet and its disinformation. And when our government officials, such as Ray LaHood, U.S. Transportation Secretary, tell the public not to drive Toyotas or that “we're not finished with Toyota,” it proves that the Obama Administration has a vested interest in giving two bailed out auto companies, GM and Chrysler, an advantage. Toyota employs 172,000 Americans nationwide, which does not include the numerous people who work for companies that supply Toyota. With national unemployment over 9.7%, such statements could lead to plant closings, layoffs, and the loss of dealerships.
Based on the rhetoric of the government and its tone, the answers are obvious. The government is trying to milk a blunder by a historically safe automaker. With Toyota’s impact on the economy, attacking it to the possible benefit of GM or Chrysler is truly a double edged sword. If you hurt Toyota and its employees, you pay a cost that may not be made up by any bump in GM and Chrysler’s short term sales gains.
With unemployment likely to remain high through 2010, the U.S. government should let Toyota make its amends and just stand back before it causes irreparable damage. The U.S. averages more than 300 recalls a year in the automobile industry, and you often don’t hear as much about them, if anything at all. The Toyota episode should prove once and for all that when government gains stakes in private businesses and companies, it sets itself up for major conflicts of interest that distort free-market competition and efficiency.
— Jae Morey is vice president of business development with CheapLimoRates.com. He writes two separate blogs that focus on the limousine industry. “LIMO-U” is a blog that is educational in nature and covers numerous topics about how to use limousine services for various events and other industry related topics. His blog “The Limo Lane” is about all things limousine with topics that are of interest to limousine operators and customers of the industry.
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