Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is known for speaking his mind - that's a good thing - but he might have gone one step too far this morning by advising the owners of recalled Toyotas to stop driving their cars until they can get that sticky gas pedal replaced. Trouble is, Toyota is nowhere near ready to handle all the necessary repair work. All of which puts Toyota owners in the middle of a pissing contest between the carmaker and the U.S. government. From the NYT:
Mr. LaHood's comments Wednesday were the latest in an aggressive campaign by his department over the Toyota situation. Last week, Mr. LaHood took credit for the company's decision to stop building and selling eight models involved in a recall over accelerator pedals that could potentially stick, saying Toyota did not take the step until urged to do so by the department. Some safety advocates said however that Mr. LaHood might be trying to protect federal safety regulators from potential liability issues over their role in investigating defects.
Toyota stock fell sharply after LaHood's comments. You can be sure he will be modifying that recommendation later today.
*Update: LaHood called his comment "obviously a misstatement," saying that he meant only to urge Toyota owners concerned about their cars to take them to dealerships.