The bad news continues for Toyota’s brands. Prius, Lexus, Sai, Camry and Tacoma recalls have been issued in the past week. And there is investigation going on about possible problems with the steering on newer Toyota Corollas. Customer Satisfaction with Toyota has certainly been impacted with this widespread quality problems. Some Toyota units in the US were named in a Racketeering lawsuit. Toyota shareholders have also seen a big drop (about 20%) in their share value since mid January when the most recent recalls started.
Prius, Lexus, Sai Recall
On Feb 9, 2010, a new recall have been announced on almost half a million Prius, Sai and Lexus HS250h hybrid models. In the ABC video below, Toyota’s reputation for quality, safety and honesty in dealing with its customers. The Prius was introduced last year as the ‘car of the future with its latest in engineering. It was also revealed that Toyota has known about the brake problem for several months. The video talks about dissatisfied Toyota customers in ‘rebellion’ over being ignored by Toyota for their break issues and uncontrolled acceleration problems with Toyota vehicles. Here’s the ABC video.
Camry and Corolla
On the same day, Toyota issued a recall on about 7,300 Toyota 2010 Camrys for a break defect. The break fluid could leak making it difficult to stop the car. The same article talks about the investigation into 2009 – 2010 Toyota Corollas for possible Steering problems.
On Friday Feb 12, 2010, Toyota announced yet another recall on its 2010 Tacoma pickup trucks for a possible cracks in the common drive shaft component. Toyota said in a statement. “As those vehicles are used, the cracks may eventually lead to the separation of the drive shaft at the joint portion.”
The part comes from a supplier, Dana, which also supplies Ford and Nissan. Both Ford and Nissan claim that their vehicles are not impacted. It was Dana who contacted to the U.S. Safety regulators that the parts it supplied to Toyota, Ford and Nissan could have cracks (about 2% of them). Ford claims it has done rigorous testing and review and has not found any potential impact on its vehicles. Nissan has the part in question in 2010 four-wheel drive Nissan and Infiniti brand trucks and SUVs. The vehicles “will not experience a loss of control or present a safety risk even in the unlikely event the part should fail. ” Nissan spokesman Colin Price said in a statement.
Yet Toyota documented that the cracks eventually could cause the drive shaft to separate and strike the road surface, potentially causing drivers to lose control of the vehicle. The vehicles from Ford and Nissan are different, of course, but one has to wonder about the design of Toyota’s that make them so much more susceptible. Or maybe Nissan and Ford will be coming forward some time in the future.
There are also some complaints about Tacoma’s having a higher than normal rate of unexplained acceleration since 2007 but Toyota claims it has nothing to do with any defect. Stay tuned on this issue.
Uncontrolled Acceleration Problem
On Friday Feb 12, 2010, in response to allegations that the uncontrolled acceleration problem was also caused by faulty electronics, not yet acknowledged by Toyota, a letter was delivered to US congress stating that Toyota strongly denied any “problems with the electronics of its vehicles”. An outside engineering firm had been engaged and reported that the electronic throttle system did not have problems. It was also confirmed that Toyota”s electronic throttle control has a “fail safe” system that would shut off or slow down the throttle “in the event of a system failure.”
Toyota’s legal problems continue to mount. At least 50 class action lawsuits for uncontrolled acceleration issues and at least 16 lawsuits for injuries caused by defect parts have been filed. In addition, four Toyota Motor Corp. units were named in a racketeering lawsuit that claims the companies collaborated to sell cars they knew were unsafe. The racketeering suit filed Feb 8th, 2010 in federal court in Coverinton, Kentucky names the defendents as Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc., and units that produce Toyota’s Camry and Avalon models and handle leasing and engineering.
These lawsuits are clear indications of Toyota’s customer satisfaction debacle. While Toyota’s reputation has been tarnished and it may take many years to regain its former level of trust with customers, if ever.
US Congress Investigation
US Congress is scheduled to review the Toyota situation in hearings starting Feb 24th, 2010. There may be some additional fall out to Toyota’s reputation and customer satisfaction levels with the information that comes out of those hearings.
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