• Apr 2, 2008
Jim Press worked for Toyota in the U.S. a total of 37 years, so the Japanese automaker was no doubt shocked when the current co-captain of Chrysler LLC dropped a bit of untruthiness about his former employer in a recent Business Week article. Press claimed that the Japanese government paid for 100% of the development of battery and hybrid system of the Prius, an advantage that U.S. automakers don't receive from their government. Today, Toyota came out and said Press was just plain wrong. A Toyota spokesman claims that Toyota received absolutely no money from the Japanese government for developing the Prius. Who is telling the truth? We have no idea, but until Press parted his lips in this Business Week report, we had never heard of allegations that Toyota received funding for the Prius from the Japanese government, let alone that the vehicle's hybrid powertrain development was entirely paid for by the government.
[Source: The Detroit News, Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty]


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  • 51 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      He knew exactly what he was getting into.
      • 6 Years Ago
      What I think is an amazing example of our stupidity is that in the late 80's when Japan Inc. was paying the Japanese savers 1% interest on their savings, they were buying US Treasuries paying 15% interest and using all that American money to fund their US plant expansion. Another example of Japan Inc's eco friendliness is the support of whaling for so called "research purposes". I consider Toyota to be aiding and abetting this needless slaughter.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Buisness week:"If Detroit makes too much noise about the new fuel standard, the U.S. companies may be seen as out of touch and could sacrifice more market share to Asian rivals that can handily meet the 35-mpg target."

      Buisness Week does not know what they are talking about. Not one automaker, Asian or otherwise is close to the 35 mpg CAFE standard.
      • 6 Years Ago
      In Japan .. Toyota has always been basically part of the government.

      They are told what to produce .. etc.

      Honda got in big trouble when it disobeyed the government and made ... horrors ... cars. They were told to make motors and motor-cycles. Even today, Honda sells very little in the way of cars in Japan.

      It is no surprise to me to hear the Japanese government actively helps Toyota. Japan has a very totalitarian type of economy.

      I thought they taught this stuff in school??
      • 6 Years Ago
      hmmm...what does Press have to gain by saying that?
        • 6 Years Ago
        If Mr. Press is correct, Nissan and Honda must be spitting mad that they didn't receive the same Japanese government resources. If I was Nissan I would merge with another company, perhaps a French Company with a good CEO, you know someone like Carlos Ghosn from Renault, and have him start asking the Japanese government the tough questions...wait they already have!
        • 6 Years Ago
        sure but if it's just a lie, he's gotta know Toyota is gonna jump on him. Maybe he has some sort of proof?

        I guess we'll see how it plays out.
        • 6 Years Ago
        He can say the Japanese goverment helped Toyota by funding the Prius development, so what is the US Goverment going to do to help us?
      • 6 Years Ago
      for anyone who understands how MITI works (the Japanese Ministry of Trade and Information), this should come as no surprise.

      these are the same folks who instituted the impossible-to-pass vehicle inspections in Japan, designed so cars fail when they reach five years in age. for those doubters, where do you think all those low-mileage Japanese engines come from that are advertised on the back of every Auto Trader? thank MITI for those!

      they also make sure that just about ANY import stays out that might have Japanese competition; everything from garbage disposers to cars.

      the Japanese government will do whatever it takes for Japanese companies to be on top, whether it involves ethical trade practices or not.

      the Japanese sold EVERYTHING here, from electronics to cars, for less than cost until Congress began an investigation in the mid '80s.

      I'm sure Jim Press knows where every skeleton is buried; there is a reason Toyota clearly stated after Jim left that there would never again be a non-Japanese on their board.

      AZMike
        • 6 Years Ago
        you obviously have no knowledge of Chrysler's "bailout" in the 80's.

        as a former Dodge dealer for ten years, let me give you a small clue about the "bailout": it wasn't, and never was.

        the Government only guaranteed the loans that Chrysler was given by the banks. there was never one dime given to Chrysler by the government. and by the way, Chrysler repaid ALL loans in full SEVEN YEARS EARLY.

        Chrysler also asked it's workers in 1981 to take Chrysler stock options instead of a pay increase to save money. by 1985, the average Chrysler line worker was a millionaire, with stock option payouts averaging $1.2 million dollars per person. of course, all the "experts" in 1981 said this was all foolishness, as Chrysler "was going out of business". oh, those "experts".

        you obviously have no real knowledge of Cerberus, either.

        first, they don't buy "loser" companies that have no future. they take none of their purchases lightly. you've obviously (and conveniently) forgotten that Cerberus is a very large, PRIVATE corporation with very deep pockets, and won't be asking for any help that they can't provide themselves.

        if you personally knew any Chrysler, Dodge, or Jeep dealers, you would be very well aware of the many positive changes that Cerberus has put into motion. and just in case you didn't know, many of Chrysler's money problems came from the first day that Daimler "merged" with them. Daimler sucked 13 BILLION dollars in cash from Chrysler, right back to Stuttgart.

        you might want to go back and read your original response to my original post. you said that Toyota would not fail to replace Press' board seat with another American, and now you don't think it needs to be. which way is it?

        ..and a little clue about that board seat that seems to have really put a bee in your bonnet.

        here's what's going to happen: the seat will remain open for 1-2 years, after all the attention wears off. then, very quietly, another Japanese Toyota insider will slide in. that's it. these Americans can't be trusted!

        as I said, Jim knows where all the skeletons are buried.

        AZMike
        • 6 Years Ago
        AZmike, you are ducking and weaving now because you're simply unable to admit when you're wrong. You simply made something up to support your position, but that doesn't make it true.

        First, let's go back to your initial statement: "there is a reason Toyota clearly stated after Jim left that there would never again be a non-Japanese on their board."

        "NEVER AGAIN" you said, with nothing to back it up. FABRICATION!!!

        Then you tried to back this up by saying it was common knowledge. FALSE!!!

        Then you tried to back it up by grossly misrepresenting a single article in Automotive News. DEBUNKED!!!

        Now, you're saying we should read Toyota's minds and assume that, because one American wasn't replaced with another, that it will NEVER happen. CONJECTURE!!!

        This is business, not affirmative action. Toyota has no duty to replace an American on their board with another American any more than GM or VW have a duty to add a Chinese member to their boards because China is the biggest emerging market for both companies.

        FACT: Toyota NEVER said that they would never elect another non-Japanese to their board. You lied and made it up because you want it to have a reason to hate Toyota.

        And this is a real beauty: "I have absolutely no doubt that Press was telling the truth about the Japanese government subsidizing the developement of the Prius. he has absolutely no reason to lie about it, and nothing to gain."

        No reason to lie and nothing to gain? Muahahaha. Maybe you haven't been paying attention, but Press has a new master with new needs!!! Chrysler is in a s***heap of trouble, especially in terms of lacking any viable "green technology." They will be begging for government assistance to stay affloat (once again -- remember the '80s?), especially if America elects a Democrat who may be more sympathetic to their cause. This is PR, a step in the chain for Chrsyler to start the actual begging porcess for the U.S. gov't to give them free green cheese.

        You have to be blind to think Press and Chrysler have nothing to gain by singling out the most successful hybrid in the marketplace as an example of help needed.

        Listen, you can choose your champions and your villains all day long, but fabricating lies to paint Toyota as anti-American is simply...anti-American.

        -SimianSpeedster
        • 6 Years Ago
        "there is a reason Toyota clearly stated after Jim left that there would never again be a non-Japanese on their board."

        I call BS. Give us a link to a quote or a legitimate news article where Toyota CLEARLY stated that. That would be totally contrary to everything they've been saying for the last 5+ years.

        Back it up.

        -SimianSpeedster
        • 6 Years Ago
        "there is a reason Toyota clearly stated after Jim left that there would never again be a non-Japanese on their board."

        That story was run on a local all news radio station here in Chicago.

        To the issue at hand.
        When Toyota and Datsun first emerged on our shores, the Japanese government subsidised up to 40% of the costs. It's a fact.
        Japanese steel was and still is subsidised by the Japanese government. It's a fact.
        Televisions, stereos, vcr's, phonographs, reel to reel, transistors, etc. were all heavily subsidised by the Japanese government until the point of time that we no longer could afford to make them in the US. It's a fact.

        Simionspeedster, take a few minutes and read this link.
        http://www.uwsa.com/issues/trade/japanyes.html
        • 6 Years Ago
        Nice diversion, but where is the link? You've made a bold statement of fact which paints Toyota as an openly anti-American company, but your statement is simply untrue.

        Sure, the story of Jim Press leaving for Chrysler was widely reported, but when did Toyota (in your words) "clearly state after Jim left that there would never again be a non-Japanese on their board?"

        If that statement was widely reported, surely you can provide us with a link? Methinks you are overstating your case.

        -SimianSpeedster
        • 6 Years Ago
        Don't take AZMike too seriously. Anyone who's been reading Autoblog over the past few months knows he's just another bigoted middle-aged Midwesterner who will use any possible means to discredit a Japanese company -- apparently including slander. Luckily, the average Autoblogger these days can identify such individuals.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I'm not going to get in an argument with you guys about subsidies, because quite frankly every government subsidizes industries. That kind of thing is for each countries' government to hammer out with trade agreements, or their own counter-subsidies.

        That said, if anything it's Jim Press' fault if Toyota replaced him with a Japanese executive. When the first non-Japanese exec you put on your board doesn't show the kind of loyalty a Japanese exec would, and instead jumps ship for a higher paying job-then proceeds to trash-talk you in BusinessWeek, you can't really expect Toyota to think great things about American execs. And to be honest? American CEOs and execs tend to be much greedier than Japanese CEOs and execs. Japanese CEOs usually average anywhere from under 1/2 to under 1/10th of what American CEOs make, even if their companies are larger and more profitable. Even today Toyota's Japanese CEO gets paid a fraction of what Wagoner's getting.
        So if Toyota has decided that it's cheaper and less embarassing to hire a Japanese CEO that doesn't backstab them, it's not even neccessarily a racist thing-Japanese execs really do cost less and they really are more loyal than a guy like Press.
        • 6 Years Ago
        speedster,

        this story was reported at great length in Automotive News in December of 2007.

        perhaps you should stop drinking the Toyota Kool-Aid, and maybe you should be asking why their number of US-built units keep shrinking, and they are building more units in Japan to ship here. their percentage of US built vehicles keeps shrinking, and is now in the low-60% range. by comparison, Nissan and Honda's US built units are in the 75-82% range.

        AZMike
        • 6 Years Ago
        you might want to check Toyota's actions, not their words.

        -Jim Press had worked for Toyota since the early 70s. he was put on the Toyota board less than a year before he resigned. do you think he was not qualified before that? I'm sure he was.

        -does it strike you as strange that the US is Toyota's largest market, and yet they never had a non-Japanese board member until last year?

        -did you notice who replaced Press? he's Japanese. do you suppose there was a dire shortage of qualified Americans within Toyota to replace him? I doubt that.

        face is very important to the Japanese, and his departure was a real slap in theirs. it also begs the question on why he departed. I'm sure it had much more to do with what he knew was coming, rather than just a good oppurtunity with Cerberus.

        I have absolutely no doubt that Press was telling the truth about the Japanese government subsidizing the developement of the Prius. he has absolutely no reason to lie about it, and nothing to gain. I have a strong feeling that perhaps some of the underhanded dealings he witnessed could have contributed to the reason he left.

        ...and please post here when the next non-Japanese gets on the Toyota board! I'll be waitint with baited breath.

        AZMike
        • 6 Years Ago
        AZMike give it up. You are so PWNED.

        The Rush Limbaugh school of debate can only carry you so far before your hollow fabrication crumble beneath you.

        • 6 Years Ago
        Hey AZmike,

        With regards to Chrysler, sure the gov't didn't make the loans directly, but if they didn't guarantee the loans, no bank would have made the loans on terms reasonable enough for Chrysler to consider accepting them. Shades of Bear Stearns and J.P. Morgan last week. Call it what you want, but it was a government bailout.

        Ohh, and Cerebrus never makes mistakes or takes investments lightly? How about that $100 million break-up fee (plus legal fees) to bail out of the United Rentals purchase. Yeah, they thought that one through real well. What's the ROI on that brilliant deal?

        http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_52/b4064028904522.htm?chan=autos_autos+index+page_top+stories

        -----

        In any event, I see more diversions and more blah blah blah, but let's get back to you LYING. Somehow, in all of this anti-Japanese posturing, you conveniently forgot that you've still NEVER backed up your original Toyota-hating claim:

        "there is a reason Toyota clearly stated after Jim left that there would never again be a non-Japanese on their board."

        That's a FABRICATION. You know it. I know it. Anyone else reading this thread knows it. You MADE IT UP. It NEVER HAPPENED. Toyota NEVER SAID IT.

        Now that you've volunteered that you owned a Dodge dealership, I can see why you're so spiteful and bitter about Toyota eating your lunch, but that doesn't justify FABRICATION.

        Forget what you THINK Toyota will do or who fills the board seat. That wasn't what you said. You attributed a FALSE anti-American statement to Toyota that NEVER HAPPENED.

        Yeah, I know, here comes some more duck and weave...anything not to own up to the TRUTH.

        -SimianSpeedster
      • 6 Years Ago
      Sounds to me that Chrysler wanted to dip their hands into US taxpayers' wallets. Without evidences, words are hollow.



      • 6 Years Ago
      So... this is another excuse not to bring innovative products to fruition... or a call to our government to start spending money where it should be spent (assisting those without the capital needed to do R&D others are) vs keeping those $123,000,000,000 in oil profits boosted with billions in incentives to the oil industry. I'm all for shifting all that funding to the companies who are struggling vs those bathing in oil profits. Unless someone can effectively argue the big oil subsidiaries are going to have a difficult time functioning without taxpayer dollars.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Japan has always been an "export or die" nation, and their gov't has always followed that line of thinking with their marquee companies. I wouldn't be too shocked, nor do I really blame them.

      This is much less surprising than how hard they tried to prop up insolvent banks the last 15 years.

      You see it in the EU with EADS/Airbus, some argue here with Boeing and military contracts, etc. "Fair" trade is a laughable term and an unattainable goal.
      • 6 Years Ago
      America does have a public health care system, its called Medicare and Medicaid. The problem with our system is there is too much government involvement. I'm not aware of too many folks getting on planes flying to the other "industrialized" countries getting health care. Please spare me.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Americans going overseas for healthcare is a booming business. Here's one link but there are thousands more. Look into it.

        Employers, Insurers Consider Overseas Health Care:
        http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16294182

        Recent polls show most Americans would prefer a system similar to every other industrialized nation on planet Earth but none of them want ours.

        You can spew all the tired old-line reasons to keep our long failed system but the facts say we're paying more than anyone else yet getting worse service. If you guys like paying more for less that's fine, but don't drag the rest of us down with you:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_the_United_States
        • 6 Years Ago
        psarhjinian, when you relative came to the US for surgery, did he go to a state run hospital or to a private one? Your relative probably did not use Medicare for that. In all socialized medicine countries I know taxes are much higher than the US so after-tax payments should be expected. Service in the US for people who have good insurance is excellent, not sure where you get your comment that it is not good.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Conversely, I'm not aware of another developed country in which poor people die because they can't afford treatment. Socialized care inconveniences the upper/middle and upper classes who can afford better. The American system completely screws (and has _killed_) members of the middle- and lower/middle classes.

        I think that, in that light, the choice between someone poor dying and someone rich having to wait for hip replacement, that I'll take the former.

        I'm Canadian and yes, I've had a relative go to the US for surgery that the Canadian system couldn't provide (my government, by the way, paid for it). I've also been in a car accident that would have landed me with thousands of dollar of bills if I was in the US. I've also met someone who had their arm _amputated_ because their insurance company dragged their feet on covering surgery.

        Look, if the US system cost it's citizens and industries less than Canada's or Western Europe's, then I'd think that detractors of socialized medicine have an argument: the service isn't as good, but it at least it's cheaper. The problem is that not only does the US system suck at providing care, it costs (in both taxes and after-tax fees seperately) than socialized medecine does.

        Give up. Empirical evidence is totally not on your side here.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Poor dude looks like that Droopy Dog cartoon. The look of Cerebrusitis, perhaps?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I agree with what Red says in the earlier comments...different philosophies, different types of people are working for Toyota and Honda and from what I know, Toyota is very closely tied to the Japanese government, it doesn't surprise me that the company received some kind of support from the gov't if not 100% as Mr.Press says.
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