Posted by: David Welch on January 26, 2010
Toyota’s image problems just keep getting worse. Toyota said today that it will suspend sales of the eight models that the company stated it would recall on Jan. 21 due to isolated incidents of a sticking accelerator pedal. A recall is one thing, but when a company decides to stop selling the cars, it’s quite another. Bob Carter, Toyota division general manager and a group vice president of Toyota Motor Sales USA, said in a statement that the company wanted to stop sales until a remedy is found.
Recall that on Jan. 21, Toyota said it would recall 2.3 million vehicles that could potentially have a problem. They are the 2009 through 2010 RAV4, 2009 through 2010 Corolla, 2009 through 2010 Matrix, 2005 through 2010 Avalon, some 2007 through 2010 Camry models, 2010 Highlander, 2007 through 2010 Tundra and the 2008 through 2010 Sequoia.
Toyota is being very cautious, which is the smart thing to do. Some vehicle owners have alleged that the sticking accelerator pedals have caused accidents, some fatal. So Toyota needs to do this to prevent any more accidents from happening.
Sooner or later, Toyota will engineer a fix. And Toyota is handling it the right way. Edmunds.com CEO Jeremy Anwyl likened the move to Tylenol’s decision to yank its products from the shelves. “I imagine that in this situation, Toyota eventually had the same decision-making thought process: realizing that the company has to get ahead of the problem,” Anwyl said. “Toyota needed to send a clear message they care more about their customers than monthly profits. And they are.”
True, but doing damage control for its once bulletproof quality image will be much more difficult. Add in the big recalls that Toyota has had in recent years and its image as a quality leader is taking another hit. That list of models, by the way, contains Toyota’s two top sellers in the U.S. in the Camry and Corolla. Toyota sold 650,000 of the two models combined last year. That’s a lot of customers who have a reason to question Toyota’s cars.