This week an unexpected letter and check arrived in my mail box. It was my payment from the Toyota Economic Loss Settlement Administrator. This is the person or agency charged with paying me my fair share of the settlement Toyota made with lawyers and the government over the devaluation of Toyota vehicles as a result of their unintended acceleration debacle. Although I had written about that settlement, it didn’t occur to me that I might be part of the settlement. Now that I have my payment I am not sure how to feel about the issue. Better is not one of the feelings I am having.
Toyota Lexus Unintended Acceleration Legal Fights
Just to be clear, the legal wrangling isn’t over yet, nor are the hard feelings. We at Torque News have covered the story, and in some cases offered up opinions about the issue. We as a publication are not on one side or the other. There are still more battles to be fought over individual cases of people killed or injured by alleged unintended acceleration. What my check is payment for is the loss of value I have suffered as a Toyota owner. You see, just by association, my Toyota, in this case a 2007 Highlander, was successfully argued by lawyers to be valued lower than if the issue had never come up.
Toyota Highlander Value Retention
My Highlander has been pretty much flawless. I like it so much I have maintained it in like-new condition, and now it is a part-time vehicle awaiting use by my sons, who I presume will beat it to death as their first car. Since I bought the Highlander I have also owned two Lexus vehicles, which were also vehicles that made me very happy overall.
I almost traded the Highlander for a Lexus RX 350. I was offered $12,000 for it by Lexus. That deal fell through, and I then tried to buy a Toyota RAV4. Toyota offered me $12,000 for it. So I say it is pretty safe to say it is worth roughly $12,000. The check I received is intended help me sleep at night knowing that my Highlander has lost some value because Toyota was embroiled in the unintended acceleration scandal. My check is for a quarter of one percent of the present value of the Highlander.
Toyota Tops Resale Value Lists
The interesting thing about my Highlander is that there is no vehicle like it worth more, despite the unintended acceleration stigma. NADA, the group that tracks actual resale values and reports on them to dealers, says that the Toyota Highlander presently has the highest resale value of any vehicle its type (mid-size crossover). In fact, it is the highest ranked vehicle for resale value of any crossover, of any type. The only similar vehicles that beat it are other Toyotas made the old way, body-on-frame. Just a point of comparison, a 3 to 5-year used Highlander retains 66% over the same period of time that a Mitsubishi Endeavor retains about 43% of its value. The segment average is 55%. I have seen reports that Toyotas have suffered a loss of value in the used-car marketplace. However, my own research and discussion with used car dealers and experts say that is simply not the case. So the NADA data and my personal informal research match. Toyota’s Tacoma is the top vehicle of all types in terms of value retention, and the next few on the list are all also Toyotas.
Does a Tiny Payment Make Anyone Feel Better?
Although a small amount to me, to Toyota the check was $1.1 billion. You see, the company made a lot of vehicles. That results in lots of hands to cross with silver to say “sorry that the issue came up, now we are even.” I wasn’t expecting an apology, and I don’t know how $29 would make anyone feel that this was a solution.
So the upshot of this check is that Toyota was sued successfully for billions of US dollars to compensate owners of the highest resale value vehicles in the market because their vehicles aren’t worth enough. If you think about it, shouldn’t the automakers at the bottom, those who make junk for a huge variety of obvious reasons, be the ones apologizing with silly little checks? I looked to see if the check was mailed to me by the law offices of Dewey, Scroowem and Howe, but it was some other legal entity. See photo if interested.
Note: Your comments on the subject are welcome, and we print all views, but we do edit out insults and repeated posts from the same commenter.
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