The Spectacle Blog

Chicago-Style Intimidation of Toyota?

That's what the Washington Examiner's editors are wondering, after President Obama's Transportation Secretary (and former Republican Illinois Rep.) Ray LaHood said all Toyota owners should "stop driving it and take it to a dealer."

By on 2.3.10 | 6:05PM

That's what the Washington Examiner's editors are wondering, after President Obama's Transportation Secretary (and former Republican Illinois Rep.) Ray LaHood said all Toyota owners should "stop driving [their cars] and take it to a dealer." The attacks from the administration about various design flaws from the suddenly undependable automaker look awful suspicious. From the paper's editorial tomorrow:

The basis for these threats is little more than anecdote-based suspicions that an electronic malady related to electro-magnetic interference from power lines might be the problem instead of the mechanical wear identified by Toyota engineers. Regardless, LaHood, headline-chasing congressmen like Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and a chorus of Naderite auto safety nannies led by former National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration Administrator Joan Claybrook are demanding that Toyota submit to a punishing new round of subpoenas, hearings, and media inquisition....

Given the Obama administration's catering to one of its favorite special interest groups, the United Auto Workers union, during the government's bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler last year, it is difficult to avoid wondering whether Toyota (which is mostly non-union) has become a victim of the Chicago Way of dealing with competitors. Toyota overtook GM several years ago as the world's leading automaker.

Now LaHood is backtracking, but that's not good enough for many owners:

LaHood later corrected himself, saying that he only meant that owners should get their cars fixed as soon as possible. But the comment had already been widely reported by then.

"I was at the gym when that was announced and people were freaking out. They were on the treadmill. I can't drive my car, how am I going to get home?" said Lauren Fix, an independent auto writer and consultant.

Sounds like another government-generated "crisis" that only it can come and save.

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