Mr. Toyoda Goes to Washington

There are at least a couple of ways to think about Akio Toyoda’s forthcoming testimony before Congress on Wednesday the 24th regarding the safety issues—mats, brakes, acceleration—of Toyota vehicles that have come to light—bright, bright light—during the past few months.

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There are at least a couple of ways to think about Akio Toyoda’s forthcoming testimony before Congress on Wednesday the 24th regarding the safety issues—mats, brakes, acceleration—of Toyota vehicles that have come to light—bright, bright light—during the past few months.

One is that Congress has discovered the auto industry following the testimony of the then-Big Three executives at the end of ’08. Seems like a long, long time ago, doesn’t it. Some people are speculating that there is another issue, one predicated on the fact that the U.S. government has majority ownership of GM. According to a Reuters report, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who has been playing the hokey-poky with his foot and his mouth, called that charge “baloney.”

Presumably, those who have the affected vehicles are probably a little more interested in getting their cars and trucks fixed than they are in the chairman of the company sitting in front of a group of lawmakers.

Then there is a second consideration, which is that when the head of an organization speaks, then everyone below him or her—and in this case, it is everyone who works for Toyota—needs to sit up and listen. What’s more, they then need to take the appropriate actions to resolve the situation. So in this regard, it may be a good thing that he is being called to testify: it will only help cement the need not only for these issues to be resolved, but will, in effect, put Toyota workers and suppliers on notice that given this public forum—and, one could go so far as to call it “public humiliation,” a calling to account for some serious transgressions in front of a bunch of law makers he’s probably never heard of and whom people in their districts may not even be aware of—they’d better be wary of passing on any questionable product, that they’d better yank that andon cord for all they’re worth.

I wonder whether he’s going to take a private plane to D.C. . . .