Posts Tagged ‘recall’

Uh Oh, Is Elon Musk Going to be In Trouble with the SEC? Should He have Disclosed Fires Investigation News?

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Hey, what do you call this – would you call it the start of a federal investigation of the recent Tesla Model S fires, or at least the ones that occurred in America?

Hey, when did certain people at Tesla learn about it?

Hey, when did certain people at Tesla disclose it?

Is this time gap relevant to the people at the Securities and Exchange Commission?

See what the people at Seeking Alpha think about this situation here.

It would be interesting to hear from somebody from Tesla about all this, non?

“ODI RESUME
Investigation: PE 13-037 Open Resume Page 1 of 1
Investigation: PE 13-037
Date Opened: 11/15/2013
Investigator: Will Godfrey Reviewer: Scott Yon
Approver: Frank Borris
Subject: Fire – Propulsion Battery – Road Debris
MANUFACTURER & PRODUCT INFORMATION
Manufacturer: Tesla Motors, Inc
Products: 2013 Tesla Model S
Population: 13,108 (Estimated)
Problem Description: Deformation/intrusion into the propulsion battery by roadway debris may result in a
thermal reaction and fire.
FAILURE REPORT SUMMARY
ODI Manufacturer Total
Complaints: 0 TBD TBD
Crashes/Fires: 2 TBD TBD
Injury Incidents: 0 TBD TBD
Number of Injuries: 0 TBD TBD
Fatality Incidents: 0 TBD TBD
Number of Fatalities: 0 TBD TBD
ACTION / SUMMARY INFORMATION
Action: A Preliminary Evaluation (PE) has been opened
Summary:
The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) is aware of two incidents occurring on US public highways in which the
subject vehicles caught fire after an undercarriage strike with metallic roadway debris. The resulting impact damage
to the propulsion battery tray (baseplate) initiated thermal runaway. In each incident, the vehicle’s battery monitoring
system provided escalating visible and audible warnings, allowing the driver to execute a controlled stop and exit the
vehicle before the battery emitted smoke and fire.
Based on these incidents, NHTSA is opening this preliminary evaluation to examine the potential risks associated with
undercarriage strikes on model year 2013 Tesla Model S vehicles.

Tesla CEO Explains His Recent Change of Course Regarding the Recent Spate of Fires – Calls for NHSTA Investigation

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

November 18, 2013
The Mission of Tesla
By Elon Musk, Chairman, Product Architect & CEO

Our goal when we created Tesla a decade ago was the same as it is today: to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible. If we could have done that with our first product, we would have, but that was simply impossible to achieve for a startup company that had never built a car and that had one technology iteration and no economies of scale. Our first product was going to be expensive no matter what it looked like, so we decided to build a sports car, as that seemed like it had the best chance of being competitive with its gasoline alternatives.

FAIR ENOUGH, ELON.

I suspected that this could be misinterpreted as Tesla believing that there was a shortage of sports cars for rich people, so I described the three step “master plan” for getting to compelling and affordable electric vehicles in my first blog piece about our company. This was unfortunately almost entirely ignored.

AW, POOR ELON! NOBODY PAID ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU SAID? ACTUALLY, YOUR MASTER PLAN IS TO HAVE GLORY FALL UPON … ONE ELON MUSK, RIGHT? YOU’VE CONSISTENTLY OVERPROMISED AND UNDERDELIVERED, RIGHT? YOU’VE RELIED UPON GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES AND YOU’VE STILL FAILED AT YOUR PROMISES OF AFFORDABILITY.

In order to get to that end goal, big leaps in technology are required, which naturally invites a high level of scrutiny. That is fair, as new technology should be held to a higher standard than what has come before. However, there should also be some reasonable limit to how high such a standard should be, and we believe that this has been vastly exceeded in recent media coverage.

FIRST OF ALL, ELON, WHO IS “WE?” SECOND OF ALL, ARE YOU PROPOSING A CHANGE TO THE FIRST AMENDMENT? SEEMS THAT WAY.

How Does the Tesla Model S Fire Risk Compare to Gasoline Cars?

THIS IS THE WRONG QUESTION, ELON. THIS IS LIKE SAYING THAT THE BOEING 787 IS PERFECT BECAUSE ITS NEW-SCHOOL BATTERIES HAVEN’T KILLED ANYBODY YET. THIS IS LIKE BOEING ASKING, “HOW DOES THE BOEING 787 FIRE RISK COMPARE TO AIRCRAFT WITH OLD-SCHOOL BATTERIES,” RIGHT? WELL ACTUALLY, BY THIS STANDARD, THE 787 HAS A PERFECT SAFETY RECORD. YOU SEE WHAT I’M SAYING HERE, ELON?

Since the Model S went into production last year, there have been more than a quarter million gasoline car fires in the United States alone, resulting in over 400 deaths and approximately 1,200 serious injuries (extrapolating 2012 NFPA data). However, the three Model S fires, which only occurred after very high-speed collisions and caused no serious injuries or deaths, received more national headlines than all 250,000+ gasoline fires combined. The media coverage of Model S fires vs. gasoline car fires is disproportionate by several orders of magnitude, despite the latter actually being far more deadly.

ALL THESE FACTS ARE IN RESPONSE TO THE WRONG QUESTION. ALSO, WHY DON’T YOU COMPARE YOUR NEW MODEL S CARS TO NEW GASOLINE CARS OF SIMILAR TYPE? LIKE, HOW MANY BRAND-NEW PORSCHE PANAMERAS CATCH FIRE AFTER RUNNING OVER TRAILER HITCHES? THAT WOULD BE USEFUL INFO COMPARED TO ALL YOUR BLATHER.

Reading the headlines, it is therefore easy to assume that the Tesla Model S and perhaps electric cars in general have a greater propensity to catch fire than gasoline cars when nothing could be further from the truth.

IT’S TOO EARLY TO MAKE THIS CALL, ELON. AND DO YOU THINK YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE STUPID, YOU KNOW, TO BE SO EASILY MISLED?

Journalists with a deep knowledge of the car industry, such as the news editor of Automotive News, understand and attempt to rebut this notion, but they have been drowned out by an onslaught of popular and financial media seeking to make a sensation out of something that a simple Google search would reveal to be false. I would also like to express appreciation for the investigative journalists who took the time to research and write an accurate article.

SO, PEOPLE WHO AGREE WITH YOU ARE JOURNALISTS WITH DEEP KNOWLEDGE AND THOSE WHO DON’T ARE THE HATED “MEDIA,” REALLY? AND WHAT’S REVEALED TO BE FALSE? YOUR CARS CAUGHT ON FIRE, RIGHT? THE FEDS ARE LOOKING INTO THIS SITUATION, RIGHT?

The degree to which this is outrageous is described well in the above-mentioned Automotive News article. There are now substantially more than the 19,000 Model S vehicles on the road that were reported in our Q3 shareholder letter for an average of one fire per at least 6,333 cars, compared to the rate for gasoline vehicles of one fire per 1,350 cars. By this metric, you are more than four and a half times more likely to experience a fire in a gasoline car than a Model S! Considering the odds in the absolute, you are more likely to be struck by lightning in your lifetime than experience even a non-injurious fire in a Tesla.

WELL THIS IS YOUR LINE, ELON, BUT WE’RE GOING TO HAVE TO WAIT AND SEE HOW THINGS SHAKE OUT, RIGHT?

Those metrics tell only part of the story. The far more deadly nature of a gasoline car fire deserves to be re-emphasized. Since the Model S went into production mid last year, there have been over 400 deaths and 1,200 serious injuries in the United States alone due to gasoline car fires, compared to zero deaths and zero injuries due to Tesla fires anywhere in the world.

AND YET, YOUR MODEL S DESIGN HAS ISSUES, RIGHT? THERE’S STUFF YOU CAN DO TO MAKE THINGS BETTER, RIGHT?

There is a real, physical reason for this: a gasoline tank has 10 times more combustion energy than our battery pack. Moreover, the Model S battery pack also has internal firewalls between the 16 modules and a firewall between the battery pack and passenger compartment. This effectively limits the fire energy to a few percent that of a gasoline car and is the reason why Dr. Shibayama was able to retrieve his pens and papers from the glove compartment completely untouched after the recent fire (caused by a high speed impact with a tow hitch). It is also why arsonists tend to favor gasoline. Trying to set the side of a building on fire with a battery pack is far less effective.

IS THAT A BAD THING, ELON, THAT GASOLINE HAS SUCH A HIGH ENERGY DENSITY? AND HEY, ELON, IF YOU’RE SO CONCERNED ABOUT SAFETY, WHY NOT VOLUNTARILY LIMIT THE SPEED AND ACCELERATION OF THE MODEL S? HOW ABOUT 0-60 MPH IN 8 SECONDS AND A TOP SPEED OF 80 MPH? ‘CAUSE IT SEEMS LIKE YOUR PRODUCTS AND YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE A BAD MIX, RIGHT? DRIVING AROUND SO FAST AND ALL. WHY ARE THE AMERICAN TAXPAYERS SUBSIDIZING YOUR COMPANY – SO IT CAN BUILD FAST CARS? WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO BUILD REGULAR OLD “AFFORDABLE” SLOW CARS? NEVER?

What About Safety Overall?

Our primary concern is not for the safety of the vehicle, which can easily be replaced, but for the safety of our customers and the families they entrust to our cars. Based on the Model S track record so far, you have a zero percent chance of being hurt in an accident resulting in a battery fire, but what about other types of accidents? Despite multiple high-speed accidents, there have been no deaths or serious injuries in a Model S of any kind ever. Of course, at some point, the law of large numbers dictates that this, too, will change, but the record is long enough already for us to be extremely proud of this achievement. This is why the Model S achieved the lowest probability of injury of any car ever tested by the US government. The probability of injury is the most accurate statistical figure of merit, showing clearly that the Model S is safer in an accident than any other vehicle without exception. It is literally impossible for another car to have a better safety track record, as it would have to possess mystical powers of healing.

CALL US WHEN THE SHUTTLE LANDS, ELON. DOES THE NHSTA APPROVE OF THE WAY YOU CROW ABOUT MODEL S SAFETY? NO IT DOES NOT? WHY IS THAT, ELON?

Further Actions

While we believe the evidence is clear that there is no safer car on the road than the Model S, we are taking three specific actions.

WELL, THAT’S REFRESHING! AFTER ALL THIS JIBBER JABBER, YOU’RE GOING TO CHANGE COURSE? LET”S TAKE A LOOK!

First, we have rolled out an over-the-air update to the air suspension that will result in greater ground clearance at highway speeds. To be clear, this is about reducing the chances of underbody impact damage, not improving safety. The theoretical probability of a fire injury is already vanishingly small and the actual number to date is zero. Another software update expected in January will give the driver direct control of the air suspension ride height transitions.

BUT WON’T THIS MOVE, WHICH “THE MEDIA” HAS BEEN CALLING FOR FOR A WHILE NOW, IMPROVE SAFETY? I THINK IT MIGHT. ANYWAY, IT LOOKS LIKE YOUR ALUMINUM “ARMOR PLATING” SCHEME DIDN’T WORK OUT AT THE RIDE HEIGHT YOU ORIGINALLY DESIGNED FOR. THIS IS CALLED A MISTAKE ELON. YES ELON, SOMETIMES YOU, THE GREAT AND POWERFUL OZ, MAKE MISTAKES.

Second, we have requested that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conduct a full investigation as soon as possible into the fire incidents. While we think it is highly unlikely, if something is discovered that would result in a material improvement in occupant fire safety, we will immediately apply that change to new cars and offer it as a free retrofit to all existing cars. Given that the incidence of fires in the Model S is far lower than combustion cars and that there have been no resulting injuries, this did not at first seem like a good use of NHTSA’s time compared to the hundreds of gasoline fire deaths per year that warrant their attention. However, there is a larger issue at stake: if a false perception about the safety of electric cars is allowed to linger, it will delay the advent of sustainable transport and increase the risk of global climate change, with potentially disastrous consequences worldwide. That cannot be allowed to happen.

[UPDATE: WELL, IT TURNS OUT THAT THE NHSTA ALREADY DISPUTES WHAT YOU'RE SAYING, ELON.] DID OJ SIMPSON CALL FOR THE LAPD TO INVESTIGATE THE DEATH OF HIS EX-WIFE AND THAT WAITER GUY? MAYBE HE DID. TRUTH BE TOLD, THE NHTSA WAS GOING TO INVESTIGATE YOUR DESIGN ANYWHO. SO YOUR REQUEST IS WORTHLESS. YOU’RE NOW BATTING .500 ELON. AND IF THE MODEL S GETS RECALLED YOU WILL COMPLY AND NOT CHARGE YOUR CUSTOMERS ANY MONEY? WELL THAT’S WHAT A RECALL IS, RIGHT ELON?

Third, to reinforce how strongly we feel about the low risk of fire in our cars, we will be amending our warranty policy to cover damage due to a fire, even if due to driver error. Unless a Model S owner actively tries to destroy the car, they are covered. Our goal here is to eliminate any concern about the cost of such an event and ensure that over time the Model S has the lowest insurance cost of any car at our price point. Either our belief in the safety of our car is correct and this is a minor cost or we are wrong, in which case the right thing is for Tesla to bear the cost rather than the car buyer.

FAIR ENOUGH, ELON. HEY WHAT ABOUT CHANGING THE DESIGN OF YOUR ARMOR (HEH) PLATING? OH, THAT WOULD COST TOO MUCH AND BE TOO EMBARRASSING? WELL, WE’LL SEE HOW THINGS GO. CERTAINLY OFFERING A FIRE WARRANTY IS CHEAPER THAN A REDESIGN, THAT’S FOR SURE.

All of these actions are taken in order to make clear the confidence we have in our product and to eliminate any misperceptions regarding the integrity of our technology and the safety of our cars.

WELL, ELON, IF I WERE YOU, I’D LOOK INTO REDESIGNING THE THIN SHEET OF ALUMINUM YOU’VE GOT BETWIXT THE ROAD AND YOUR THERMAL RUNAWAY DEVICE. I, FOR ONE, DON’T BUY YOUR BS. WE’LL JUST HAVE TO WAIT AND SEE WHAT THE FEDS COME UP WITH.

BUT PARTIAL DENIAL IS BETTER THAN FULL DENIAL, SO YOU’RE MAKING PROGRESS, ELON.

BABY STEPS, ELON. BABY STEPS.

CODA Automotive, the Company What Builds Crappy Electric Cars in the Bay Area, Has Sold Just 78 Vehicles?

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Why on earth are we subsidizing the totally crummy CODA Automotive electric car company? It baffles me. What makes it a good company, what makes it worthy? Nothing.

Anyway, here’s the latest, as expected, the first recall notice has come early, before CODA even delivered 100 cars worldwide.

Here’s their “Statement” about the matter:

“CODA Automotive is committed to safety and has voluntarily recalled* 78 of its 2012 CODA model year vehicles within the VIN range of 53G1U4A48CB000026 to 53G1U4A48CB000260. The recall campaign was issued because of the potential that the side curtain airbags in certain vehicles may not deploy as intended due to an improper installation. Certain 2012 model year CODA vehicles may have this condition. There are no known injuries related to this recent discovery. CODA Automotive holds itself to the highest safety standards and continually strives to offer the most reliable product for its consumers.”

Now, I’ll ask you, how many tens of thousands of these vehicles were supposed to have been sold by now? Well, I’ll answer you: SEVERAL! And yet this recall notice shows just how unpopular this product is, even though I can think of at least four huge subsidies the government grants to its owners.

Oh, but what’s this, it’s a non-crappy electric car what’s cheaper than anything from Coda. It’s a Nissan Leaf, which the Coda people have been criticizing for years. Oh well. Anyway, adorable, non?

BTW, 35,000 LEAFs have been sold so far, worldwide.

So, CODA, why don’t you take your assets and try to give them to the govmint to make up for all that you have cost us?

Solyndra shut itself down, so can you!

*This recall is a nothingburger, really. I mean, my giant Toyota doesn’t have side-curtain airbags and nobody’s recalling it, right? The recall notice is important because it gives us a clue to CODA’s abysmal sales….

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown on Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi – Comments

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Off we go:

“San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has arrived at the first moment of truth for his still-fledging administration – what to do about Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.

OK WILLIE, YOU’RE GOING TO NEED TO USE YOUR WORDS. THIS IS HIS FIRST MOMENT OF TRUTH BECAUSE… BECAUSE WHY? HE COULD LET THE WHOLE THING SLIDE AND THEN THAT WOULD BE THAT, RIGHT? THERE WOULD NO “MOMENT” OF ANYTHING.

The plea bargain that was struck in Mirkarimi’s case, in which he pleaded guilty to false imprisonment of his wife rather than a clear charge of domestic violence, has dropped the mayor into “the barrel,” as we say in politics.

“BARREL? I’VE NEVER HEARD THAT TERM USED IN THIS CONTEXT. BUT IF YOU SAY SO…

The mayor has to decide whether to try to force Mirkarimi’s removal from office – a tough call under any circumstances, but one made doubly tough by the politics surrounding the decision.

TOUGH CALL? PLEASE EXPLICATE.

For one, the false-imprisonment conviction [sic] lets Mirkarimi keep his gun, so the mayor can’t try to remove him on the grounds he can’t perform his duties.

UH, HOW WEAK AN ARGUMENT IS THIS? SHERIFF OF SAN FRANCISCO IS A ELECTED, POLITICAL JOB. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH GUNMANSHIP OR WHATHAVEYOU. (RIGHT? OTHERWISE, THE CANDIDATES WOULD DEBATE BY SIMPLY MEETING AT THE SHOOTING RANGE INSTEAD OF THE GENTEEL COMMOMWEALTH CLUB.

Second, the person Lee is largely relying on for legal advice is City Attorney Dennis Herrera – who just ran against him for mayor and might do so again in 2015.

OK, BUT HOW DOES THIS HELP US?

If the mayor does seek to oust Mirkarimi, it will be up to Herrera to press the case – so Herrera has to be thinking about winding up in the barrel as well.

SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? THAT DENNIS WILL BE TEMPTED TO GIVE BAD ADVICE TO SAVE HIS OWN SKIN? REALLY?

Third, should Lee pursue this, he’ll be putting all the supervisors on the hot seat, because they’re the jury that decides whether the sheriff stays or goes.

MOST OF THE SUPERVISORS WOULD NOT BE IN THE “HOT SEAT.” THEY WOULD JUST VOTE AS THey’re TOLD BY THE WILLIE BROWN POLITICAL FACTION, AS PER USUAL.

It would be especially uncomfortable for Mirkarimi’s fellow progressives who are up for re-election in the fall.

I THINK IT WOULD BE MORE UNCOMFORTABLE FOR THE “PROGRESSIVES” WHO ARE NOT UP FOR RE-ELECTION IN THE FALL… THINK ABOUT IT WILLIE.

They are not going to be happy about being put in the barrel, either.

BARREL, WTF? OH, I REMEMBER NOW WHAT THAT MEANS. I THINK. (DID YOU JUST MAKE UP A WORD, WILLIE? I THINK SO.)

On the other hand, if the mayor doesn’t pursue Mirkarimi’s removal, he and he alone will have to answer to critics as to why the sheriff was allowed to stay on after being convicted.

WELL, BECAUSE IT WAS EXPEDIENT HE COULD SAY. ED LEE NEEDS TO BALANCE THE PROS AND CONS OF HOW SUCH AN ACTION BENEFITS AND HARMS HIS (AND ACTUALLY, WILLIE, _YOUR_) FACTION.

At the very least, if Lee opts not to pursue the case, he should make the city attorney’s opinion public. At least that way, he could point the finger elsewhere.

WOW, NOW THERE’S SOME SOLID ADVICE.

No matter what the call, if I were Mirkarimi, I would be really worried about July. That’s when recall petitions can begin circulating to recall the sheriff. And given the mood of the women in the anti-domestic violence network, I’d say a recall is inevitable.

WHAT’S THAT, A RECALL IS INEVITABLE? WELL, THAT’S WHAT YOU THINK.

ACTUALLY, I’M NOT EVEN SURE THAT A SERIOUS RECALL _ATTEMPT_ IS INEVITABLE.

UH, IS THIS THE KIND OF MATERIAL THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY THEY SHELLED OUT $2 FOR A PHYSICAL CHRONICLE?

OK FINE…

Willie Brown flying over JHP, as free as a bird:

O RLY? Oakland Mayor Jean Quan on Her Handling of Occupy: “Mistakes Were Made” – A Big WSJ Article on Recall Efforts

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

The Great Wall Street Journal Pay Wall isn’t fully operational right now, so that means that you can follow the lead of SF Bay Area Observer’s Ron Russell by checking out today’s bit from Bobby White in the Wall Street Journal:

Occupy Flap Prompts Oakland Recall Drive

Or at least I think you can get to it for free.

I could, anyway. See?

Now check it:

In an interview, Ms. Quan acknowledged that “Occupy has damaged downtown businesses and mistakes were made.” Still, she said, she believes most voters back her and “I do not believe that most of the businesses in the city agree with this recall campaign.” The 62-year-old Ms. Quan, who was elected in late 2010, added that Oakland’s ethnically based chamber of commerce organizations support her, as do major businesses in the city such as Pandora Media Inc. and Kaiser Permanente.

Is that an apology? (Your Bromide of the Day: As goes Pandora Media, so goes Alameda County.)

And there’s this:

Corey Cook, an associate professor of politics at the University of San Francisco, said until Oakland’s recall effort becomes more structured, he is uncertain if it will succeed. Still, he said, “To go from being an unpopular leader to one worthy of recall requires a very public failure, and it seems [Ms. Quan] has accomplished that.”

Ouch.

We’ll know more by the end of next week.

On It Goes…

Blue Shield of California Announces Independent Review of Rates, Possible Refunds, But Then Takes It Back

Friday, January 14th, 2011

[UPDATE: Not sure why Blue Cross pulled and then re-issued this press release. Some background on the rate increases here.]

I don’t know, here’s the release that Blue Shield of California sent out this AM, which wouldn’t be all that interesting excepting for the fact that they just went and called it back, they’re saying right now they want you to disregard it.

The Blue Shield, they want a Mulligan on this one looks like, but they don’t say why so that’s bad cricket, IMO.

I can’t decide that for you. You’re going to have to choose whether you wish to avert you gaze or not. Starting…. now!

As seen at AT&T Park during that whole Icer Air ski jump thing back in ought -seven. That’s a Blue Shield, right?

Blue Shield of California Agrees to Independent Actuarial Review of Rates. Company will make refunds to policyholders if rates are unsound

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 14, 2011 — Responding to concerns raised about rising individual health insurance rates, Blue Shield of California announced today that it will voluntarily subject its rates to an independent actuarial review and make refunds to policyholders if the actuary finds that the rates are unsound. David Axene, the respected actuary who discovered errors in other California rate filings last year, will conduct the independent review of the not-for-profit health plan’s rates.

Approximately 194,000 Blue Shield of California Life and Health Insurance Company members recently received notices of rate increases that averaged 15% annually. Due to a variety of factors, some members received increases much higher than the average.

“We regret that our members have received significant rate increases in recent months and want to be absolutely certain that the rates reflect our actual cost of providing medical care,” said Blue Shield Chairman and CEO Bruce Bodaken. “To establish trust and confidence in our rate-setting process, we have taken the unprecedented step of agreeing to be bound by the conclusions of an independent third party. If this independent review finds that the rates are not sound, we will hold our members harmless by refunding the difference with interest.”

Mr. Axene is president of Axene Health Partners LLC, and has worked as a professional actuary since 1971. Last year, he conducted independent reviews of individual rate filings for the California Department of Insurance, where he found errors that, when corrected, resulted in lower rates for hundreds of thousands of consumers.

Mr. Axene will be free to confer with the Department of Insurance on his review, which he hopes to complete in 30-45 days. He will evaluate Blue Shield’s rate filing to determine if its calculations are accurate and its assumptions are sound. He will determine if the rates are “excessive, unjustified, or unfairly discriminatory,” which is the standard suggested by recently proposed federal rate review regulations. Whatever conclusions he reaches, his report will be made available to the public.

Despite Blue Shield’s recent rate increases, the company expects to lose $10-20 million on its individual health plan business in 2010 and another $20-30 million in 2011. Blue Shield’s total costs for hospitals, physicians and prescription drugs have risen by an average of 15% annually for each of the past three years.

“Our premiums are rising because of the rapid increase in healthcare expenses for our members,” said Bodaken. “Reducing medical costs must be an urgent national priority for health coverage to be affordable for the vast majority of Americans.”

About Blue Shield of California

Blue Shield of California, an independent member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit health plan with 3.3 million members, 4,800 employees, and one of the largest provider networks in California. Founded in 1939 and headquartered in San Francisco, Blue Shield of California offers a wide range of commercial and government products throughout the state. The company has contributed more than $125 million over the past four years to the Blue Shield of California Foundation–which was named one of BusinessWeek’s 20 most generous corporate foundations. Contact your local agent or broker for more information about Blue Shield products and services, or visit the Blue Shield website at www.blueshieldca.com.

Toyota to Open “Product Quality Field Office” in the Bay Area by the End of July, 2010

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

I’ll tell you, there’s not a doubt in my mind that Toyota continues to be, by far, the best car company in the world. That’s something that commenters and pundits who don’t know what the eff they’re talking about should keep in mind, one might think. (And rest assured, my giant Toyota has, for some odd reason, both a new-school electronic throttle sensor and old-school throttle cable. It’s like you’re wearing a belt and suspenders at the same time!)

Anywho, due to the recent troubles, Toyota has a new joint coming to the Bay Area. So, look forward to a Product Quality Field Office opening its doors in the East Bay, in San Ramon, soon. (They’re calling it “San Francisco” in the press release, but that’s close enough, I s’pose. It’ll be close to Berkeley, anyway, where 20% of cars sold these days are Priuseses, or something.)

Welcome Toyota!

Bon courage.

All the deets:

Toyota to Expand Product Quality Field Offices Across United States and Canada

San Francisco Field Office Launches This Month; Seven North American Offices Planned Significantly Enhances Field Data Collection and Technical Capabilities

TORRANCE, Calif., July 8  — Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS), today announced that it is expanding its Product Quality Field Office program to four additional U.S. regional sales areas, following the success of a pilot program launched in the New York region in late 2009.  TMS will officially open its next Product Quality Field Office in San Francisco this month, and an additional three offices across the U.S. over the next 12 months.  Toyota Canada Inc. (TCI) announced that it will establish Product Quality Field Offices in Toronto and Calgary, for a total of seven offices across North America.

Staffed by technical and engineering specialists with expertise drawn from across Toyota’s global operations, these Product Quality Field Offices strengthen Toyota’s North American field technical presence and data gathering and reporting capabilities, enhancing the company’s ability to detect, analyze and respond to customer and quality issues in the field.

Product Quality Field Offices are being established with the mandate to investigate specific field quality issues related to unique regional, geographical or environmental conditions in each area.  The New York region office was developed to investigate the performance of Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles in cold weather climates, with an emphasis on corrosion issues.  The new San Francisco office will focus on hybrid vehicle systems and durability, capitalizing on the high concentration of these vehicles in the California market.

Ever more deets, after the jump.

(more…)

Jerry Brown Throws Down: Owners of Recalled Toyotas and Lexuses Get Loaner Cars

Friday, February 26th, 2010

California Attorney General Jerry Brown can’t abide you fretting over your recalled Toyota or Lexus - so he just struck a deal with Toyota USA so that you’ll be taken care of when getting service.

It’s all going to be on a case-by-case basis, so if you’re totally freaked out and you just don’t want to drive your car no mo, then maybe your dealership can send somebody to come around your place to pick up your car, fix it and return it as good as new. Or you can get a loaner if your repairs go into extra innings.

Read the news, below.

Jerry Brown, automático para la gente:

Brown Forges Deal with Toyota to Help Consumers While Recalled Vehicles are Repaired

Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced that his office has reached an agreement with Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc. to provide California Toyota owners with at-home pickup and vehicle return and cost-free alternative transportation while their recalled vehicles are being repaired.

“This agreement goes a long way towards easing the burden caused by Toyota’s massive recall,” Brown said. “It will now be much easier for Toyota owners to get to work and take their kids to school while critical safety repairs are made on their cars.”

Under the terms of today’s agreement, Toyota will provide owners of recalled vehicles the following services:

- Pick-up and return of vehicles by the dealership;
- Transportation to the dealership and/or to the owner’s place of work;
- Alternative transportation, such as a rental car, loaner vehicle or taxi reimbursement for a reasonable period that the customer is unable or unwilling to use his or her car; and
- Expedited scheduling for repair services.

These services will be provided by Toyota through the dealers at no cost to either the owners or the dealer.

The following Toyota vehicle recalls are covered by today’s agreement:
- September 29, 2009 for floormat entrapment;
- January 21, 2010 for sticking accelerator pedals;
- February 8, 2010 for anti-lock brake system issues; and
- February 12, 2010 for drive-shaft failure.

The following vehicles are involved in the recent Toyota and Lexus vehicle recalls: 2005-2010 Avalon, 2007-2010 Camry, 2009-2010 Corolla, 2007-2010 ES 350, 2008-2010 Highlander, 2006-2010 IS 250 and IS350, 2009-2010 Matrix, 2004-2009 Prius, 2010 Prius, 2009-2010 RAV4, 2008-2010 Sequoia, 2005-2010 Tacoma, 2007-2010 Tundra, 2009-2010 VENZA, and 2010 HS 250h.

More information on the specific vehicles affected by the recalls can be found at www.nhtsa.dot.gov and www.toyota.com/recall.

Californians are encouraged to contact their local Toyota and Lexus dealers if they believe they are eligible for these accommodations. Consumers can also contact Toyota’s customer service center at 1-800-331-4331 or Lexus at 1-800-255-3987.

This agreement will remain in place until all Toyota vehicles subject to the recall have been repaired. If additional safety recalls arise, an extension of this agreement or other appropriate provisions will be pursued.

Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc. is based in Torrance, CA.

What To Do When Your Toyota’s Gas Pedal Sticks and You’re Going 120 MPH?

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Well, you’re probably too young to remember, but back in the 1980′s we had this thing where people would buy Audi 5000′s and then they’d press the go pedal when they meant to press the no-go pedal. Drivers were crashing into swimming pools, killing pedestrians – it was carnage. The funny thing was, though, that if you kept your foot on the brake your Audi 5000 wouldn’t go anywhere.

The Canadians (Transport Canada, eh?) looked into it and called these unintended acceleration crashes the result of  “driver error” but the NHSTA came up with the polotocally correct phrase “pedal misapplication.” No matter, it means the same thing. To sum it all up, here are some peoples’ takes on this issue and here’s a different perpective from the Center for Auto Safety*

The point being is that the whole theory that plaintiff’s lawyers initially came up with to explain what was going on was complete garbage. If you want to talk about how best to size and locate the gas and brake pedals for the relatively unskilled, a-driver’s-license-is-my-birthright American driver, well then have at it, but it’s sort of funny how these accidents didn’t happen as much in Honda Civics, which had an almost identical pedal layout. And the upshot is that sales did recover in the U.S., and Audi is back to being the sexy chariot of the yuppie it was back in the ’80s.

Anywho, it’s 2010 and we now have a another entry in the annals of unintended acceleration: the 2010 Toyota Vehicle Recalls. Floormats and the gas pedal setup both appear to be part of the problems.

Toyota’s tip on how to operate your floor mats:

And here’s Toyota’s advice on how to not kill yourself when your sticky throttle sticks wide open, from a time when the floor mats were considered the primary cause of trouble (but it’s still good advice):

First, if it is possible and safe to do so, pull back the floor mat and dislodge it from the accelerator pedal; then pull over and stop the vehicle. 

If the floor mat cannot be dislodged, then firmly and steadily step on the brake pedal with both feet. Do NOT pump the brake pedal repeatedly as this will increase the effort required to slow the vehicle.

Shift the transmission gear selector to the Neutral (N) position and use the brakes to make a controlled stop at the side of the road and turn off the engine.
 
If unable to put the vehicle in Neutral, turn the engine OFF, or to ACC. This will not cause loss of steering or braking control, but the power assist to these systems will be lost.
 
-If the vehicle is equipped with an Engine Start/Stop button, firmly and steadily push the button for at least three seconds to turn off the engine. Do NOT tap the Engine Start/Stop button.
-If the vehicle is equipped with a conventional key-ignition, turn the ignition key to the ACC position to turn off the engine. Do NOT remove the key from the ignition as this will lock the steering wheel.

O.K. fine. It still baffles me how a CHP officer who inspected vehicles as a major part of his job couldn’t figure this out when his Lexus loaner sedan’s throttle got stuck full-open. He didn’t know how to navigate the needlessly-complicated shifter into N? The brakes failed? He didn’t know he had to press the ignition off button for three seconds? I mean, I would have thought he could have done those four things done in about ten seconds, but the period of time where the car was out of control was much longer than that.

(Some people say to not try to turn off the engine, but I say go for it. As far as how difficult it is to turn off cars with keyless ignition switches, well, how did you intend to turn off the car at the end of your trip? That’s what you should do when you’re barreling along the highway out of control.)

Could Toyota intall a “brake-to-idle feature” so that when you’re under full throttle and you hit the brakes the car realizes that and closes the throttle no matter what? Yes, it looks like that would end this issue for the most part.  

In the meantime, Government Motors is mocking Toyota over these recent deaths, offering $1000 to Toyota owners who trade-in for a General Motors car. The problem with that, GM, is that Toyota can’t hear your mockery because they’re way up in nosebleed territory on the mountain of cash they’ve managed to accumulate over the years. Nice try tho, GM.  

Somebody could write a book about this, maybe they’ve already started.

Stay safe

*This doesn’t make sense: “…cars with full acceleration take an average of 65 feet to stop.” If you’re saying that cars at freeway speeds with throttles stuck wide open take an average of 65 feet more to stop than similar cars at idle, then you might have something there, CAS.