In the first quarter, Toyota Motor Corp. cut its US lobbying expenses by nearly a third as it faced recalls and investigations into the defects of its Camry and Prius vehicles that put the cars at risk of unintended acceleration. For lobbying from January to March, Toyota spent $880,000, a 32% drop from $1.3 million in the same period a year earlier, according to congressional filings released recently.
During the quarter, US lawmakers had four hearings to examine Toyota's recall of over 8 million cars and trucks worldwide to repair unintended acceleration issues. On Feb. 24, company president Akio Toyoda, the grandson of the founder, testified at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing.
An internal company document showed to the panel indicated that Toyota saved $100 million by negotiating with federal safety regulators to limit car recalls. This document listed the company's having been able to avoid an investigation into rust on its Tacoma pickup as an accomplishment of Toyota's Washington office.
On April 19, Toyota agreed to pay a $16.4 million fine for its failure to promptly report accelerator pedal flaws. US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the fine is evidence that Toyota accepts responsibility.
Toyota had denied being liable for the claims made by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and said it paid the amount to steer clear of "a protracted dispute."
Furthermore, Toyota's report shows how the company lobbied the House and Senate on issues, which include making it easier for workers to unionize, patents, financial regulation and energy matters. The recalls were not mentioned.