Toyota Bragged About Saving $100 Million With 2007 Floormat Recall

You know those scenes toward the end of James Bond movies where the bad guy goes on and on about his elaborate plan and what a genius he is? That never happens in real life, right? No, in the real world the bragging is done in “confidential” documents that are never meant to see the light of day… but always do. Just ask the folks at Toyota.

The Japanese car giant is now on the hot seat once again after the uncovering of an internal memo gloating about saving $100 million by convincing U.S. regulators to close the books on a 2007 investigation into sudden acceleration complaints.

The result of that investigation was a relatively tiny recall of 55,000 Toyota Camrys and Lexus ES350 vehicles to have their floormats replaced.

The document, dated July 6, 2009, says that Toyota’s Washington, D.C. team was credited for having “negotiated [an] ‘equipment’ recall on Camry/ES,” saving the company over $100 million with no finding of a defect by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In its defense, a Toyota released this statement: “Our first priority is the safety of our customers and to conclude otherwise on the basis of one internal presentation is wrong.”

This latest news doesn’t bode well for Toyota chief Akio Toyoda, who will be appearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform this Wednesday.

It remains to be seen if the revelations in this document will lead Congress to investigate any possible wrongdoing on the part of regulators who agreed to the lesser recall in 2007.

Toyota memo raises stakes for chief’s hearings [Reuters]