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INTEREST: Keeping track of the recalls


With everything that’s been going on with the recall situation especially with Toyota, I thought I’d chronicle the whole the whole saga from the start.

But as I dug deeper I started realizing that recalls have become common place for some in the industry, and makers like Toyota and Honda and even their German counterparts like Audi have initiated recalls in recent times.

To shed some light on recalls though, there can be two kinds – recalls made to correct major problems that can cause serious injuries or death and recalls made to correct minor problems that just cause inconveniences.

And the recalls can be made in two ways.

One, it can be made voluntarily by the maker itself, in the instance where they have found and recognized a problem or problems with their product which could lead to mere inconvenience to their drivers and in more serious instances, death.

Another way recalls come about is when the respective national authorities find citizens filing complaints over a similar problem that is serious enough to have injured or caused death. This way, the vehicle maker would be forced to investigate the situation further and get in touch with the affected quickly.

Why Toyota seems to be grabbing all the spotlight though was for their nonchalant attitude towards customer complaints.

Since the early 90’s, authorities in the United States have recorded cases of problems stemming from certain constructural aspects of Toyota’s trucks and it was also reported how Toyota didn’t bother responding to their customers complaints immediately enough, sometimes taking years from the first few complaints before issuing a recall, something that usually put many peoples lives in danger and in some cases, causing accidents and death.

So the recent recall exercise by Toyota has placed them under the unscrupulous eyes of the automotive media at large and more importantly, the US authorities.

Since the news of recalls hit news stands, the media has put the Japanese company’s “kaizen” way of management under scrutiny, blaming it for the increasing flaws in Toyota’s products.

The “kaizen” way of management has been loosely defined, in Toyota’s case, to be placing the importance on quantity more than quality – in that way saving the time spent on addressing inherent problems in design and using the time to produce more cars.

Having read an article in the Herald Tribune some weeks back about the Japanese company, the reported quoted an employee from the Japanese headquarters saying that “we knew about these problems but we couldn’t afford to stop everything and sort that problem out. So our solution was to keep producing it until it was serious enough to be addressed.”

The reporter blamed Toyota’s culture of always trying to be number one, that caused their current spiral to the bottom of the pile. They never saw this coming because they just kept going everything there was a hurdle.

Don’t be mistaken though, this will change Toyota and the automotive industry completely.

Toyota

11th July 2006: Japan – Three Toyota employees under criminal investigation for recall negligence. They did not issue a recall of the brand’s Hilux truck which developed problems in its steering, even after five complaints were registered with one accident that left five of its occupants injured in Japan.

26th September 2007: U.S -Toyota recalls 55,000 floor mats that was causing unintended acceleration

28th January 2009: Global – Toyota recalls 1.3 million Yaris models over a seat belt problem. In severe frontal crashes, a foam pad could reportedly ignite.

12th March 2009: U.S – Toyota grilled by authorities over possible truck recall coverup. The death of a teenager driving a Toyota truck that eventually had its relay rod, which connects the steering wheel to the front tires, snapped. The part had been under recall since 2005, but neither the truck owner or the previous owner had been notified of the defect which prompted investigations over the delayed and improper distribution of the recall information.

24th August 2009: China -Toyota recalls nearly 700,000 vehicles over melting door panels in China

29th September 2009 : U.S -Toyota recalls 3.8 million vehicles over floormats, making for its largest recall ever in the U.S

9th November 2009: U.S – A class action suit filed against Toyota over sudden acceleration claims alleging that the automaker knew about reports of unintended acceleration for years and has received over 2,000 such complaints. It’s estimated that there were 16 fatalities and 243 injuries from the defect in the U.S

25th November 2009: U.S – Toyota recalls 3.8 million vehicles  to reshape and replace pedals

30th December 2009: U.S – Toyota heads the pack in the brand with the largest number of recalled automobiles with 4.87 million cars and trucks. Ford followed behind with 4.52 million vehicles (mainly due to cruise control problems) and General Motors rounding off the top three with 2.24 million vehicles recalled.

21st January 2010: U.S – Toyota recalls 2.3 million vehicles over unintended acceleration from sticking accelerator pedals in the U.S

26th January 2010: U.S – Toyota temporarily halts sales of 8 models. They state that models from Lexus and Scion are made in Japan, thus not inheriting the same problems

27th January 2010: Global – Toyota to take recall global

28th January 2010: U.S – Toyota recalls another 1.1 million cars for faulty floor mats

29th January 2010: Europe – Toyota recalls 8 models; total of 1.8 million cars across Europe

31st January 2010: Global – Toyota loses US $21 billion in market share within one week; 14% plunge in share value

1st February 2010: U.S – Toyota announces remedy for the faulty pedals to dealers and customers [video]

2nd February 2010: U.S – Toyota records a 16% drop in sales in January

9th February 2010: Global -Toyota recalls Prius and Lexus HS250h globally to fix ABS system

12th February 2010: U.S – Toyota recalling 8,000 2010 Tacoma 4WD pickups over driveshaft defect

2nd March 2010: U.S – Toyota offers to fix oil lines of 1 million six-cylinder models; clearly states “This is not a safety recall.”

Honda

29th January 2010: Global – Honda recalls 646,000 Fits/Jazz around the world to fix a defective master switch. Apparently water can enter into the power window switch mechanism, which in certain instances could cause a fire. Three cases have been reported.

10th February 2010: U.S – Honda extends airbag recall. It’s reported that certain airbags in the 900,000 vehicles could deploy so violently that the inflator will rupture. When the bag is deployed, the metal shards from the excessive explosion could act like shrapnel, shoot through the bag and possibly injure vehicle occupants.

Audi

5th October 2009: U.S – Audi recalls 2006-2010 A3 and TT models over potential fuel leak that could cause fires

General Motors

2nd March 2010: U.S – GM recalling 1.3 million vehicles over steering problems

Hyundai

24th February 2010: U.S & Korea – Hyundai to recall 47,300 of the new Sonata sedans due to a possible door-lock problem [Hyundai Sonata U.S commercial]

2nd March 2010: U.S – Hyundai issues recall of 515 units of 2010 Tuscon due to potentially defective airbags [Hyundai Tuscon U.S commercial]

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