“Toyota’s strengths and weaknesses part Nr.2”
The most diffused piece of information by the press firstly rumoured in 2009 and then confirmed and divulgated by a recall campaign involving 8.5 million Toyota cars, was the one which saw the company liable from customer’s claims about a sticky throttle pedal combined on some models with brake system problems. In September 2009 a crash in California causing four fatalities moved the company to attribute cause to the misalignment of the driver’s side front floor mat. Later that month the company contacted four million Toyota’s owners to remove that mat as probable cause of sudden accelerations. In November Toyota’s denied any nature of electrical or mechanical faults, from customer’s accusations.
In January 2010 the sticky throttle pedal supplied by CTS Corp was found the cause of sudden accelerations and therefore two million vehicles were recalled. After few days NTHSA made Toyota stop the selling of Camry and Corolla models, with a further 1.1 million vehicles recalled.
The consequences stroke the marque during that sales stop causing an estimated $1.5 Million loss. Moreover as result of bad publicity given from by the press, sales in January dropped by 16% compared with 2009. Stock prices decreased by 10% to the advantage of Ford shares which grew up to 80%. The article: “Toyota’s recall cost could top $5Billion” (Wall Street journal, 9th March 2010) will veer potential customers off the brand even with the 0% interests loan and 80% maintenance costs covered as a special warranty. Even though Toyota finances are well in health with $29 million in cash and very little debts the risk by seeing the rating undermined at (A+) is a reduction for the company’s credit which makes it even harder to make debts. The effects were evident in March 2010 when was calculated $1.1 billion loss in recalling 8 million vehicles. Also there were losses in worldwide sales of $800 million.
As the dealers fixed the problems, the liability threat for the brand was also reduced and a very slow return in image was also previewed. A steel bar reinforcement to the pedal was installed, as reason of the recall, to eliminate the friction of the pedal causing it to stick at full applications.
Finally a very aggressive campaign was settled to answer to media and press in a responsible and active way.
In April 2013 a big airbag related recall involved also Toyota. The Japanese brand Takata, supplier of side airbags stated that their components produced from 2000 to 2004 affecting models like: Camry, Corolla, Picnic, can combust so aggressively causing the inflator to brake. In that case: “fragments of metal could potentially strike and seriously injure passenger, occupant or other occupants” (NHTSA). The vehicles involved in UK were 76.000 while worldwide the recall for Toyota was accounted at 1.73 million.
Last September 2013, the company has recalled 1 million crossovers built between 2006 and 2011 that have a problem with the rear suspension geometry. The recall in question is the second after a provisional fix done 780.000 vehicles proved ineffective. The reason of the recall of the RAV 4 and Lexus HS 250 Hybrid is a wobbly and potentially rusty suspension arm that could lead to failure therefore loss of control or even crash. Investigations discovered that the bolts securing the arm weren’t tightened properly. The dealers now perform the bolts check and also seal the arm to potential corrosion with a seal of epoxy resin coat.
On 133.000 hybrids Highlander a problem with the hybrid system’s which can shut down suddenly causing the vehicle to stall or to enter in “Limp home mode”.
Last October another recall campaign from Toyota, involving 885.000 cars worldwide starts due to electrical problems that can prevent Airbags from deploying. This happened just after the victory in California’s curt about the unintended acceleration claim. Ten million vehicles where recalled for that matter, with several billion in losses to cover the expenses of recalls, settlements and jury verdicts. The cause of the fault was due to a leakage from the air conditioning condenser on the airbag control module. The short circuit generated could also lead to power steering loss. The vehicles covered are the 2012 2013 Camry sedans and Hybrids, Avalon and Venza. To correct the problem a new cover to prevent leakage damage and sealant will be applied to protect electrical components.
This led Toyota to pay law fines derived by late responses on the safety related problems. Also is currently the leading manufacturer U.S. to have recalled the largest quantity of vehicles.
Overall the automaker is keen to show its attention to production quality has affected recently and in more than an occasion by different campaigns related to faults or potential safety threats. Even though the continuous recall methodology will inevitably affect the brand’s perception and reputation in a negative manner.
Edoardo Pandolfini Barberi 21/01/2014
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Picture #1 [Online] Cardoha, available from:
Picture #2 [Online] The Motor Report, available from:
Picture #3 [Online] Jey Auto, available from:
Picture #4 [Online] Motori Online, available from:
Picture #5 [Online] Image Automotive, available from: