Published by WallStreetWeather.net
Toyota announced February 1 it has a solution to fix the more than 6 million vehicles affected by a recall caused by “sudden unintended acceleration” (SUA). Toyota will insert a steel bar on the accelerator pedal assembly to eliminate excess friction that could cause the pedal to stick. Vehicle owners will be notified by mail to schedule an appointment with a Toyota dealer which will make the “sticky pedal” fix and take care of the floor mat recall also affecting certain models.
While there have been incidents with other auto manufacturers vehicles unexpectedly accelerating on their own, incidents involving Toyota vehicles have been far higher. At least 19 deaths and over 1,000 accidents have been reported since 2001 involving Toyota and Lexus brand vehicles. The NHTSA has largely dismissed most of these incidents, outlining in a March 2004 memo its position that a vehicle’s braking system would always overcome an engine and stop a car.
If this were actually true in the age of drive by wire, the computer software would stop acceleration the minute that the brake is tapped. A vehicle’s braking system was never designed to overpower the engine. In the days when manual transmissions prevailed, the driver could simply press the clutch which would disengage the engine from the transmission and no tragedies would have occurred. Electronic sensors have replaced the mechanical connection between the pedal and the engine to control acceleration.
Just as each part of the human body is ruled by a certain planetary energy, so are the parts of a motor vehicle. Mars rules the accelerator as it represents moving forward. The braking system is ruled by Saturn, a cautious and slow moving energy whose giant rings represents boundaries and constraints. The Sun rules the engine, the heart of the vehicle. Uranus rules the vehicle’s electronics and computer systems. Because computers control and coordinate the engine’s activities, Uranus has usurped the Sun as the center of the vehicle’s “solar system.”
Uranus describes events that occur unexpectedly, giving a strong indication that the source of the problem revolves around the vehicle’s computer systems and software. Jim Lentz, the president of Toyota USA told reporters Monday that “we have done exhaustive testing, and we have found no evidence of problems with the electronics.” The House Committee on Energy & Commerce which will hold a hearing on February 25, sent a letter to Lentz yesterday requesting full documentation to substantiate Toyota’s claims that the problem was not the result of a computer glitch. Reps. Waxman and Stupak’s letter notes that Toyota officials told committee staffers on January 27 that the causes of unintended acceleration are “very, very hard to identify” and sticky accelerator pedals are “unlikely to be responsible” in cases where cars accelerated above 60mph.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that Toyota issued the recalls after transportation officials flew to Japan in December “to remind Toyota about its legal obligations” and in January followed up with Toyota “to insist they address the accelerator issue.” The department is considering seeking a civil penalty from Toyota. So how did Toyota suddenly go from being the world’s most respected carmaker to fueling the public’s suspicions and apprehensions that they’re not being told the whole story?
Toyota’s series of recent recalls related to unexpected acceleration were spurred by the death of a California Highway Patrol officer and three family members in a 2009 Lexus ES350 that suddenly accelerated out of control on August 28, 2009. Toyota attributed the problem to floor mats. Mars (acceleration; accidents) was opposing Pluto then, indicating that the cause of the problem was deeper and more involved than Toyota’s explanation. During the previous Mars/Pluto opposition, Toyota issued a recall on September 26, 2007 for 2007-08 Lexus ES and 2007-08 Camry floor mats for possibly interfering with the accelerator returning to the idle position.
At the time of the 2007 recall Mars and Pluto were squaring Toyota’s founding chart’s Mercury in Virgo (communication and transportation), Saturn in Virgo conjoined Toyota’s Sun, and the Sun opposed Toyota’s Saturn in Mars-ruled Aries. At the time of the Lexus crash on August 28, Mercury, Mars and Pluto (death)were impacting Toyota’s Saturn in Aries. Two weeks later when Mercury was retrograde, the media leaked the family member’s 911 call made just before the fatal crash. These transits to Toyota’s founding chart reflect that normal braking (Saturn) was not able to control the vehicle’s sudden acceleration. Mercury describes a communications deficiency between the brake and the accelerator. Pluto in Saturn-ruled Capricorn was conjoining the progressed Sun* in the chart for the founding of Toyota USA indicating that the US market would be the primary source of Toyota’s troubles.
On September 29, 2009 Mercury stationed direct, conjoining Saturn in Virgo and opposing Uranus in Pisces, once again impacting Toyota’s Mercury while the Sun opposed Toyota’s Saturn. This was a wakeup call for Toyota to come clean what information it knew about potential electronics problems. Toyota announced an advisory affecting 3.8 million vehicles, telling owners to remove the driver’s floor mat until the company found a solution to the problem.
In October 2009 Saturn shifted into Libra and was about to make its first square to Pluto while both planets were affecting the Toyota founding chart’s Mercury/Saturn opposition and the Toyota’s USA chart’s progressed Sun in Capricorn. Akio Toyoda, the president of Toyota and the founder’s grandson, told reporters that “the days when you could classify Toyota as one of the winners are over” as Toyota had entered the fourth of the five stages of corporate decline described in Jim Collins’ book “How the Mighty Fall.”
Saturn and Pluto affecting Toyota’s Mercury and Mars and the Toyota USA’s progressed Sun reflects Toyoda’s remark that the company stood on the brink of “capitulation to irrelevance or death.” Saturn is about taking responsibility and being held accountable for actions taken. Pluto describes the decline and death that must occur in order to bring about transformation.
Despite Toyoda’s public admission, Toyota’s natal Mercury/Saturn opposition reflects the company’s rigid denial that the unexpected acceleration problem was caused by anything beyond floor mats and sticky accelerator pedals. Toyota issued a press release addressing “the growing suspicion by some Toyota and Lexus owners, that a glitch of some kind in the electronic engine management system was the cause of reports of unintended acceleration.” Toyota pointed out that this issue had been “one of the most thoroughly and repeatedly investigated issues by Toyota” and the NHTSA who denied a petition to investigate “unintended acceleration not caused by accelerator pedal interference.”
On November 25, Toyota announced it would alter the accelerator pedals on 4.26 million vehicles, provide new floor mats, and install a brake override system for certain Toyota and Lexus models beginning in early 2010.
Eclipses are harbingers of major change, and Saturn’s energies were particularly potent at the time of the January 15 Capricorn Solar Eclipse. As Saturn in Libra stationed retrograde and Mercury in Capricorn turned direct, both planets impacted Toyota’s natal Saturn in Aries. The eclipse squared Toyota’s founding chart Venus in Cancer and progressed Mars in Capricorn as well as Toyota USA’s Mars in Libra, indicating Toyota needed to take additional action to maintain consumer relations despite the cost. Toyota announced it was recalling an additional 2.3 million vehicles as part of its original recall of the sticky accelerator pedals.
Saturn and Capricorn represent freezing conditions and describe Toyota’s January 26 order freezing U.S. sales of eight Toyota models affected by the sticky accelerator pedal recall. Saturn and Pluto were about to exactly align for the second time on January 31 impacting Toyota’s Saturn in Aries and Toyota USA’s progressed Sun, affecting 1200 U.S. dealers. Pluto represents problems on a massive scale, reflecting there are more Toyota and Lexus models with the problem than Toyota is acknowledging in its current recalls.
These planetary energies affecting Toyota’s charts leading up to the second alignment of Saturn square Pluto describe Toyota’s fear of alarming the public if it acknowledged the possibility that the root cause of the unexpected acceleration could be emanating from a software bug that might still remain elusive to Toyota engineers. Saturn represents blockages and delays that tend to backfire as Pluto will dig deep to expose what’s being kept under the surface. It also describes various government investigations of Toyota now underway.
Pluto represents the massive scale of the problem and costly fallout from Toyota’s emphasis on global expansion over Toyota quality that began in 1995 under the leadership of Hiroshi Okuda. This was when Pluto entered the expansive and global sign Sagittarius. Toyota’s goal was to usurp GM’s status as the world’s biggest automaker by building a better Buick. Toyota succeeded in 2008 just as Pluto shifted from expansive Sagittarius to contracting Capricorn. The excesses of those years forced GM into bankruptcy and majority government ownership. And now Toyota is learning a costly lesson for being too dependent on computer simulations and rushing out products during those years without building prototypes.
“Why did we decide to take action now so suddenly? That’s because, to be honest, there was fear that if we continued our study on this any longer (our credibility could be questioned).” – Toyota chief quality officer Shinichi Sasaki to reporters in Japan February 2
Mars acts like a trigger, accelerating and accentuating other planetary energies. With Mars retrograde in Leo opposing the Sun and Venus last week leading up to the January 30 Leo Full Moon with Saturn square Pluto, Toyota’s acceleration problem was accelerating. Mars retrograde in Leo was squaring Toyota’s founding Uranus in Taurus, conjoining Toyota’s USA’s Uranus in Leo, and conjoining the sector of Toyota’s (TM) NYSE ADR chart representing its reputation and opposing Uranus in Aquarius. Beyond reflecting the minor selloff in Toyota’s stock, Mars in Leo to natal Uranus in these charts suggest action needs to be taken to investigate the engine’s (Leo) computer control system (Uranus). Mars and Uranus in fixed signs can make the problem difficult and slow to diagnose.
Saturn and Pluto reflect that Toyota faces a long road ahead under harsh weather conditions during 2010-11. These two planets are impacting Toyota’s stock chart Sun in Libra, keeping the stock under pressure. The stock’s reaction to these events reminds me of how the financials held up for awhile before collapsing into the single digits during the financial crisis. Saturn/Pluto and other planetary influences confirm James B. Stewart’s assessment of the stock in today’s Wall Street Journal.
Jupiter in Pisces opposing Toyota’s founding Sun in Virgo now describes the growing legal cases against the company. There could be a major announcement about the accelerator issue around the time of the February 28 Virgo Full Moon which squares Toyota’s founding Mars. The problems could expand to more countries. (This also coincides with the House Committee’s hearing.)
The Aries New Moon on April 14 squares the January 15 Solar Eclipse, reactivating the issues that led to the late January recalls and sales freeze. Mercury turns retrograde in Taurus on April 18, affecting Uranus in the three charts described above. This could represent a breakthrough in solving the problem or there could be a recurrence of sudden acceleration incidents in vehicles that underwent the recall fix. With Mercury in Taurus, the news will come at great cost to Toyota. Saturn opposes Uranus on April 26; both planets affect Toyota’s founding Mercury. This could represent a new recall to make the software fix that instructs the computer to override the accelerator and cut power to the engine so the brake will work if the vehicle unexpectedly accelerates. Other new developments in this saga could occur around the June 26 Lunar Eclipse in Capricorn.
Saturn square Pluto also reflects the NHTSA’s failure to recognize that computer problems with automobiles are just as serious a problem as mechanical issues. A positive outcome of Jupiter and Uranus conjoining in Aries in June would be for the government to require that all new vehicles have a brake override of acceleration to prevent loss of control in the event of a computer or mechanical malfunction. Another alternative would be to have a device similar to the mechanical clutch in cars with an automatic transmission. Following the lead of the commercial aviation industry, I believe that all new vehicles should have a black box so that investigators could examine the causes of mechanical or electrical failures.
*A mathematical calculation that moves the planets forward in time as a method of prediction.
Toyota Founded: August 28, 1937 time unknown Toyota, Japan
Toyota Motor Sales USA Founded: October 31, 1957 Torrance, CA
Toyota (TM) NYSE ADR: September 29, 1999 9:30 AM New York City