Toyota Camry
Ralph Nader challenges Toyota's R&D spending claim – Click above to watch commercial after the jump

Ralph Nader isn't finished. The man whose fame has long outlasted the first car he took to task is now gnawing at Toyota over claims the company makes in its print advertising: "That's why we're spending a million dollars an hour on research and development." In a letter Nader wrote to the U.S. sales chief Toyota, Jim Lentz, he states that an $8.7 billion investment in R&D is "astonishing," and he'd like to know precisely how that amount is spent.

The larger issue, however, might be Nader coming so late to the game. After all, Toyota released a commercial in June in which the narrator says, "At Toyota, we care about your safety. That's why we're investing one million dollars every hour to improve our technology and your safety." Everyone, including the New York Times, wanted to know how Toyota could be spending a million an hour on safety.

A Toyota rep responded to the NYT by saying "The $1,000,000 an hour claim represents all Toyota R&D spending globally, much of that allocated to new quality and safety technologies." True, that doesn't exactly answer Nader's question since he moves the discussion from spending on safety to spending on R&D, but the claim relies on how Toyota defines R&D. Even though Nader says the term "has a specific meaning," it's amorphous enough that we're sure Toyota can defend it... if that's even necessary. Lentz says he'll respond to Nader directly.

[Source: USA Today]