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Auto blogThu, 08 May 2014 14:14:00 EST
With Toyota set to relocate its North American headquarters to the Dallas, TX suburb of Plano following a top-secret, 100-city search, the cities that missed out can now begin asking themselves what happened during a process they apparently knew little about.
That's a particularly brutal task for Charlotte, which, according to North Carolina's Secretary of Commerce, Sharon Decker, finished second to Plano. While Toyota has been fairly open about what it was looking for in a new headquarters city - direct flights to Japan, proximity to its US production facilities, a lower cost of living, high-quality educational facilities and finding a neutral site suitable to the California, Kentucky and New York-based employees that would be relocated - it's been less open about how the finalist cities, which also included Atlanta and Denver, stacked up against each other.
The Charlotte Observer has a few ideas. Part of the problem is the distinct lack of direct flights between Charlotte and Asia. US Airways, which operates a hub at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, doesn't fly to Asia.
A total of 22.6 million current and former Toyota owners have been sent notices that they may be eligible to receive compensation from the automaker for damages related to the unintended acceleration fiasco that has dominated headlines in 2009 and 2010. The total payout may be as high as $1.63 billion, according to The Detroit News.
Steve Berman, a lawyer for the owners, calls the potential deal "a landmark, if not a record, settlement in automobile defects class action litigation in the United States." Still, there's some debate about whether or not Toyota's proposed settlement is fair, as it includes $30 million for safety research and driver education programs - in other words, Toyota seems to be suggesting that drivers need more education on how to drive their correctly working and fully functional vehicles. For those keeping track, Toyota would also be paying lawyer fees of $200 million.
A US District Judge in California is scheduled to hold a so-called "fairness hearing" on June 14 that could decide the fate of this particular settlement. Further courtroom wrangling will be required to hash out any wrongful death suits levied against Toyota stemming from unintended acceleration claims, as those are not part of this class-action suit.
It doesn't matter the make or model - modern vehicles are technological miracles when it comes to occupant protection. Take this story out of New York City, which involved two people going for a very wild ride in a Toyota Matrix.
Carlos and Raquel Broadbelt were on the Cross Bronx Expressway overpass when they hit a patch of ice while dodging a pothole, sending them hurtling into a guardrail and over the side of the overpass. They fell 50 feet onto the road below. Despite the catastrophic accident - and the mangled Toyota - both driver and passenger walked away. The couple spent a night in the hospital just for observation.
The Broadbelts' miraculous survival has even surprised doctors, who told Dave Carlin from CBS New York they'd never seen an accident like it. Take a look below for the full news report from CBS New York.