Posted on April 13th, 2010 No comments
(photograph courtesy of Toyota)
Earlier today Toyota unveiled the Prius PHEV within the confines of the tony Torrey Pines Lodge in San Diego. An exclusive list of invited media attended and had a chance to drive the PHV as well as participate in some seminars on “sustainability”. Festivities continue through tomorrow so I imagine the news stories will start flowing between now and then as it appears Toyota has not embargoed driving impressions of the new Prius (somewhat surprising).
Here’s Toyota’s FAQ on the Prius PHV.
While I languish at POG HQ here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, my partner in crime, Danny Cooper of priuschat.com and co-host of What Drives Us is out there suffering through San Diego weather and what is surely an onslaught of underpriced media dinners. So, that means a full report on this week’s What Drives Us which should hit the streets in the next day or so (once we get this week’s podcast done). And yes, the What Drives Us take on the Prius PHV will be the definitive one. I would put forth that we might be only two reviewers who also own 2010 Prius (since the PHV is based on the 2010 Prius).
Check back soon and hear me grill Danny on the new PHV and whether or not he was able to sneak off to In-N-Out (it’s only a few miles down the road from your hotel Danny!).
Posted on March 11th, 2010 1 comment
And here’s where I rip CNN a new one.
Let’s face it, running a huge multi-national, like the proverbial sausage factory, isn’t pretty but that doesn’t stop millions of people from gobbling up the product.
This story, no matter how it ends, is going to be real ugly for Toyota.
Apparently, a person whom CNN describes as “former in-house defense attorney Dimitrios Biller” resigned from Toyota, cashing in a four million dollar severance package and walked out with more than 6,000 documents and emails from his former employer. In the article, Biller claims the documents are damaging to Toyota, “Not potentially, they are. They are very damaging,”
There’s little doubt in my mind that just about any lawyer could produce documents that were damaging to a former client. That’s the nature of legal representation, right or wrong, we’re only pondering half the story if we can’t admit that. So even under the best circumstances, this is going to be another nightmare for Toyota.
So the real question is, so what does he have? What do these documents show us?
So what did CNN learn?
The documents — some of which were reviewed by CNN — were sent by Biller to Toyota officials. There are numerous references to so-called “Books of Knowledge,” highly confidential information on design, safety systems and testing records allegedly generated by Toyota engineers on everything from roll-overs and roof safety to sudden unintended acceleration.
Here’s a photograph of one of the not-so-secret “Books of Knowledge” I took in January of 2009. It happens to be “the Book” for the third generation Prius. The man holding it is known simply as the “The Chief”. He’s Chief Engineer of the Prius, Akihiko Otsuka.
And this picture…
And this picture of The Chief actually consulting the book to respond to a question…
So, yeah, secret book of knowledge. The Chief referred to this “book”, well, folder, that appeared to contain a vast amount of very well organized data on the the third generation Prius, many times throughout the presentation and questioning.
Here’s how CNN described it;
highly confidential information on design, safety systems and testing records allegedly generated by Toyota engineers on everything from roll-overs and roof safety to sudden unintended acceleration.
Of course any company that designs and builds a car has this information. In fact, I would guess that every car company has this information on every vehicle they’ve made and yes, it’s confidential. Is that surprising or somehow “damaging” to Toyota?
Again, the question is, depends on what’s in there. But by no means does mere existence of this information mean Toyota has done something wrong. This is shoddy, tawdry reporting. Give me an example of something that’s damning from these documents which CNN claim they have examined. CNN does, later on, but it’s, well, read on please…
So far, we know an ex-Toyota lawyer grabbed a bunch of privileged communications and is now, now that he’s out and has his four very-large bonus, he’s claiming these documents are damaging.
Further on we read about a specific liability case. A case, as it turns out, which Biller defended Toyota in. The accident was a Camry rollover which Toyota settled for $1.5 million. The plaintiff’s lawyer in the case is quoted as saying,
Embry, who added Toyota provided just enough information to show Toyota vehicles “met the minimum standards.”
Perhaps sad but again, what I would expect from any company defending itself in a multi-million dollar and not proof of guilt by any means.
Again, from the CNN article:
Included in Biller’s documents is an e-mail he said he sent to his bosses summarizing negotiations. It says, “TMS [Toyota Motor Sales USA] concluded that it would be better to pay a premium to settle this case and avoid producing the ‘Books of Knowledge.’”
So Toyota decided to pay off this claim rather than divulge what is basically a blueprint for building the Prius, even more, they’re the results of building the vehicle using those plans and testing it. I’m sure there’s a lot of folks that would like to get that information for free. GM claims to have spent three quarters of a billion dollars designing, building and testing the Volt, so far. Who wouldn’t love to see “the Book” on the Volt? Do you think GM would fight to keep that information secret?
Although Toyota calls the materials “trade secrets,” Embry said,
So why, if Biller knew a judge had ordered all information produced, didn’t he produce it? He said he tried but was stopped by a superior who told him, “You have to protect the client at all costs.”
“Even if that includes,” Biller asked, “committing criminal acts or violating the law?”
The answer, Biller said, was yes.
Did he break the law? “No, I did as much as I could as a lawyer for a client to not break the law,” he said.
At least he follows orders.
Toyota says publicly that Biller is full of it and they will continue to fight to keep those documents private. I can’t blame them but I will add this, if there is something in there that is truly damning, I’d be at the head of the line to kick some Toyota ass. But the evidence has to be there. I won’t do it on the allegations of a former lawyer who left Toyota years ago because of a “nervous breakdown”, grabbed a bunch of privileged communications and then, four years later, threatens to make them public.
I want evidence. Where is the evidence? We have enough allegation and assumption on this issue. Enough to clog the news organs of this country all too much. Where are the real facts?
There’s no doubt CNN should be reporting this story. My question for them, when will they actually do some reporting? If their goal was act as flack for this former lawyer, job well done. If their goal was to inform the public, they haven’t really bothered to tell us anything important, have they?
And as I said at the top, there’s no way this can end well for Toyota. It just adds more ironic gasoline to the fire. Even if Toyota is successful in keeping “the Book” and rest secret, then they lose image wise. If they make it public, everyone gets everything they spent millions learning.
Yes, this is going to suck for Toyota.
And by the way, just for laughs, here’s The Chief and I later in the day…
Posted on June 1st, 2009 No comments
POG readers Richard & Tinka just got their new 2010 Prius!
My best wishes to Rich and Tinka. I hope they enjoy their new Prius.
Now, where’s mine?!
Posted on January 27th, 2009 No comments
Great video that captures what happened during the reveal night very well.
Posted on January 26th, 2009 No comments
- You have 24 hours left. The offer ends Wednesday afternoon.
These regional events are similar to the one I attended in Detroit. If you want an unparalleled opportunity to see, touch and partially disassemble* the 2010 before anyone else and you live in one of these three cities, do sign up.
This is a perfect of example of Toyota reaching out to the Prius owner who is interested in the next generation Prius like no other company has.
Here is the offer straight from Toyota….
The Prius Team would like to extend a few extra Prius Connection invitations to our online enthusiasts. For those of you who reside in the Washington, DC, New York City or Chicago areas, we’re offering the opportunity to get well-acquainted with the 2010 Prius before it’s available to the general public. (Please note: These events are intended for local residents and Toyota is not providing reimbursements for any travel incurred.)
If you’d like to be considered for one of the following local events, please click on this link to our website Prius Connection for submitting your request to attend.
Washington, DC: Monday, February 2, 2009; 6-9pm
New York, NY: Thursday, February 5, 2009; 6-9pm
Chicago, IL: Tuesday, February 10, 2009; 6-9pm
All invitation requests received in the first 48 hours of this post will be reviewed by Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. All invitation decisions are the sole decision of Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. Please understand that space is highly limited so we would appreciate submissions from those certain they plan to attend apply.
And if you do decide to go and Toyota sends you an invite, please drop me a line. I’d love to know what you thought of the car and the event.
Good luck POG readers!
*Just kidding on the “partially disassemble” part
Posted on January 15th, 2009 No comments
Regular news and commentary posting will resume tomorrow. I’m still getting other things in order after being gone for two days.
Ladies and gentlemen, courtesy of Toyota, the 2010 Prius…
Posted on January 13th, 2009 No comments
For the rest of the day I’ll be traveling. I’m packing up all the gear (a not inconsiderable task) and getting ready for the flight back the Lancaster. When I get home tonight, I’ll have a much more detailed report and I’ll feature some more images.
Posted on January 13th, 2009 No comments
Make no mistake, Toyota delivered on everything they promised and more. Yes, I’m talking about the Prius and the access to the new vehicle they gave us. I have no experience in the car world maybe every car manufacturer does this but I tend to doubt it.
Here are a few samples.
That’s all for tonight. I’m beat and you have galleries of pictures to browse if you wish. Late tomorrow I’ll post my thoughts and observations (of which I have many) from the event as well what I think of the 2010 Prius. For now, check it out and form your own opinion.
Thanks for stopping by and have a great night/morning.
Posted on January 12th, 2009 No comments
You have to say one thing, Toyota knows how to throw a party. They put nice get together for everyone this everyone this evening. Below some of the images from that get together.
And of course, tomorrow is the big day. At 11:00 we get to see video of the big reveal and then in the evening, as the story, we’ll actually be hands on with the car. Of course, I’ll have a lot of pictures from that (and video). Check back here for more from the Detroit Prius Connection.
Posted on January 11th, 2009 No comments
Well, here I sit in the spiffy leather desk of my marble top desk in my room. Who woulda thunk it?
Here are the shots so far today. They’ll give you an idea of the trip and what’s Toyota has set up for those us here for the 2010 Debut tomorrow.
Two legends of the Prius world. John runs one of the pioneering Prius sites on the web and frankly, one of the most informative. John has collected a mountain of data on his Prii and has posted it all to the web. John’s site is one reason I have a Prius today. Michelle is another encyclopaedia of Prius knowledge. I’ve emailed with her a few times and she’s been kind enough to set me straight on facts. Between these two people there is a vast wealth of real world Prius knowledge. I was honored to finally meet both of them in person.
Now I’m heading off to the welcome reception. More stories and pictures later this evening.
Posted on January 11th, 2009 No comments
After a wonderful customer service experience with a delightful Northwest employee (no sarcasm, she rocked) here I am at the gate. I managed to get all of my camera and computer equipment through security, something which I had imagined would not be simple.
HIA is mostly empty. I guess not a lot of Harrisburgians fly to Detroit on Sunday morning.
In a little over two hours I should be safely ensconced within Toyota’s arms in the motor city.