Toyota Motor Corp.
) agreed to pay $29 million to 29 states and American Samoa as
part of a settlement related to a 2010 lawsuit accusing the
automaker of late notification to customers regarding unintended
acceleration in its vehicles. The participating states in the
settlement include AL, AZ, AR, CO, CT, FL, IL, IA, KS, LA, MD,
MI, MN, MS, NE, NV, NJ, NM, NC, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA,
WA and WI.
During the investigation of the lawsuit, state attorneys
ascertained that poor communication between Toyota's headquarters
in Japan and its U.S. offices had contributed to the late
notification of the defect. In response to this, the automaker
plans to improve communications between the offices and bestow
more decision-making power to its U.S. executives.
Further, Toyota intends to post online owners manuals and expand
its rapid response teams which will assist customers regarding
any safety issues in the vehicles. It has also decided to
reimburse customers for expenses related to the recalls, such as
rental cars or taxi rides while their cars were being recalled.
U.S. Government Fine and Other Lawsuits
In Dec last year, the Transportation Department of U.S. had
slapped a fine of $17.35 million on Toyota due to late response
to safety regulators regarding a defect in its vehicles as well
as late recall of those vehicles.
According to the department, it was the maximum allowable fine
under the law for not initiating a recall in a timely manner. The
fine was added to $48.4 million imposed by the U.S. government on
the company in 2010 due to late recall of millions of defective
In the same month, Toyota had also agreed to pay $1.1 billion to
settle a class-action lawsuit related to complaints of unintended
acceleration in its vehicles. According to a plaintiff lawyer,
the settlement is one of the largest in a lawsuit in the history
of automotive industry.
The lawsuit had blamed Toyota's defective electronic
throttle-control system rather than floor mats and sticky
accelerator pedals for unintended acceleration, resulting in a
crash. The settlement would pacify 16 million owners of Toyota,
Lexus and Scion of model years 1998 to 2010. They would be
eligible for payments and safety updates on their vehicles.
According to a company filing in Jun 2012, Toyota faces more than
300 wrongful death or injury lawsuits. Last month, the company
negotiated an undisclosed settlement with the families of two
people who were killed in 2010 when their Toyota Camry crashed in
Since Nov 2009, the automaker has recalled about 20 million
vehicles globally, surpassing all other automakers. A few months
back, Toyota had announced a major worldwide recall of 7.43
million vehicles that included more than a dozen models
manufactured between 2005 and 2010. The recall was related to
faulty power window switches in the vehicles that can cause fire
because they did not have grease applied properly during
Sales Crown Regained
Despite these, Toyota recaptured the sales crown from
General Motors Company
) by selling 9.75 million vehicles globally in 2012, which
exceeded GM's sales of 9.29 million vehicles. Germany's
) came third with sales of 9.07 million vehicles for the year.
Toyota's victory can be attributed to its impressive product
lineups and marketing initiatives.
Surprisingly, sales in the company's domestic market surged 35%
despite its sluggish economy. Sales of the company's domestic
Honda Motor Co.
) grew 19% to 3.82 million vehicles in the year.
The automaker lost its No.1 position to GM in 2011 after gaining
the title from GM in 2008. The loss of crown was driven by
declining reputation due to a series of safety recalls as well as
negative impact from natural disasters in Japan and Thailand in
2011. However, Toyota had vowed to regain the top position by
increasing its dependence on the non-U.S. markets, especially the
high growth emerging markets.
Recent Earnings Results
Toyota posted a 22.2% rise in earnings per share (EPS) to ¥31.55
(39 cents) in the third quarter of fiscal 2013 ended on Dec 31,
2012 from ¥25.81 in the same quarter of prior fiscal year. The
EPS was lower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.23.
Net income rose 23.4% to ¥99.91 billion ($1.23 billion) from
¥80.94 billion a year ago. The increase was attributable to lower
provision for income taxes during the quarter.
Revenues increased 9.3% to ¥5.32 trillion ($65.56 billion) on a
7.3% rise in unit sales to 2.11 million vehicles. Among all the
geographic markets, unit sales rose at the fastest pace in Asia
(53.4%) and declined at the fastest pace in Japan (15.0%).
Operating income dipped 16.7% to ¥124.76 billion ($1.54 billion)
from ¥149.68 billion in the third quarter of previous fiscal
year. The decline was attributable to a 10.1% rise in costs and
expenses during the quarter.
For fiscal 2013 ending Mar 31, 2013, Toyota raised its
consolidated vehicles sales guidance to 8.85 million units from
8.75 million units. Consequently, the automaker projected higher
consolidated revenues of ¥21.80 trillion (reflecting an expected
increase of 17.3%) compared with fiscal 2012. The upward revision
of sales outlook was based on higher overseas vehicle sales,
primarily in North America.
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