Remember when our Toyotas went all “Maximum Overdrive” and tried to wipe us out last year? Defective automobiles would suddenly accelerate without warning, putting the lives of helpless passengers on the line. The media and government went ballistic. War was declared on Toyota, complete with congressional hearings, in which Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood actually told motorists they should stop driving their Toyotas until the company could devise a solution to the problem. (He swiftly walked his position back to “encouraging” the owners of suspect Toyota models to “contact their local dealer and get their vehicles fixed as soon as possible.”)
Toyota wound up halting sales on eight of its most popular models, including the Camry, one of the best-selling cars in the United States. The New York Times reports the company paid $48.8 million in fines, and saw its sales drop 0.4 percent in 2010, making it “the only full-line automaker to report lower sales last year.”
It turns out these cases of “sudden acceleration” were not defects in Toyota automobiles at all. After a 10-month investigation, the government concluded the incidents were mostly caused by floor mats interfering with the accelerator pedal, and drivers accidentally hitting the gas instead of the brakes.
I wonder when we're going to get our "never mind" moment on global warming.