Toyota Recall: Toyota Seeks Repair to Brand As Well As Cars
For decades, Toyota has been a squeaky clean brand, providing motorists a quality automobile at a competitive price. It, among a handful of firms, was largely responsible for turning the once derisive phrase "made in Japan" to one denoting quality.
But the recent recall of Toyotas to fix a design flaw in the accelerator, followed by the suspension of U.S. sales of eight Toyota models, has shown just how quickly perceptions can change.
In fact, Toyota's troubles might have been visible long before its recent, highly publicized troubles. Beginning a few years ago, ConsumerAffairs.com received reports of problems with Toyota's popular hybrid, the Prius.
In 2008, complaints about the Prius settled into several areas: unintended acceleration, troublesome traction control, battery failure, trouble filling the fuel tank, unusual tire wear and relatively poor gasoline mileage. Unintended acceleration
That same year, an Eagle, Colorado, Prius owner reported this story: "On August 10, my wife experienced an unintended acceleration of our Prius resulting in a totaled car and long-term minor injuries for her."
At the time, Toyota blamed unintended acceleration with the Prius on faulty floor mats jamming the acceleration pedal.
"NHSTA has checked out our after-market floor mats which could have caused the problem but my wife claims that they were not the problem, that she looked at her feet to be sure they were on the brakes and the mats were still in their usual place as they had been for almost 10 months," our reader reported.
However, it was not until this year that Toyota conceded a design flaw in the accelerator pedal and agreed to fix it. But the admission did not come from the top; a lower-level Toyota executive addressed the problem at a news conference, and happened to mention that the faulty part was made by a U.S. manufacturer. Ongoing investigation
However, Reuters reports U.S. safety inspectors have not closed their investigation, and want to make sure that Toyota's electronic throttle control isn't the cause of the sudden and uncontrollable acceleration.
Toyota's handling of the situation has raised the eyebrows of public relations experts around the world.
"It is an absolute disaster for a company which is Japanese, which has top-notch quality control, to have done it in such a spluttering manner," Suhel Seth, managing partner of Indian brand management firm Counselage, told Reuters.
Meanwhile, Toyota's problems may not be over. The company's new Prius model have drawn 14 brake complaints in Japan, one involving an accident. In the U.S., the company has received over 100 reports of Prius brake problems, according to Kyodo News.
Prius owners recently posting comments on ConsumerAffairs.com, meanwhile, have reported problems ranging from inaccurate gas gauges to failure-prone headlights.
"My Toyota Prius 2005 battery failed twice and helped uncover dangerous design failures tied to the lead-acid battery failure, that make maintenance and towing even more difficult," Aviva, of Belmont, Mass., told ConsumerAffairs.com last month. "When the 12 volt SLI lead-acid battery failed, all electronics systems failed as well. It was impossible to open my trunk to get out the jumper electrical cables; or to put the car in neutral so the car parked nose in could be turned around and jump started, or towed for service from the front."
Toyota's problems may be taking a toll on the company's bottom line. The carmaker's U.S. sales dropped 16 percent in January, hitting a 10-year low.
Source: Indiacar.com Source : http://www.consumeraffairs.com (2/3/2010)