Toyota Recalls Another 2 Million Cars. Apology Needed.

Posted by: David Welch on February 24, 2011

When NASA released the results of a 10-month study on Toyota vehicles on Feb. 8 concluding that the automaker’s cars did not have an electronics problem that caused unintended acceleration, one of Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s columnists said the media owed the company an apology. There is no ghost in the machine and the intense media coverage caused a frenzy, Bloomberg BusinessWeek columnist Ed Wallace wrote. I know Ed personally and have tremendous respect for him. But I must part ways on this issue.

Toyota may not have had electronic throttle issues. But certainly the company had plenty of other problems. Just today, Toyota announced its biggest recall in a year. The Japanese auto giant recalled 2.17 million vehicles because of carpet and floor mat flaws that could jam gas pedals. Toyota has recalled more than 12 million vehicles globally since November 2009, many of them related to unintended acceleration claims. Of those actions, 5.3 million vehicles were recalled to fix floor mat problems. Some of the cars were recalled because of a sticking accelerator pedal. It may not have been electronics, but there were problems.

Toyota has had other investigations and recalls not related to unintended acceleration. Last week, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration opened an investigation into the 2006 Highlander hybrid amid claims that the SUV stalls frequently. In January, Toyota voluntarily recalled 1.7 million vehicles for potential defects in fuel pipes and pumps, Bloomberg reported. On Jan. 10, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda told reporters that the recalls have inflicted “big damage” on the company, but he maintained that its cars are safe, Bloomberg reported at the time.

Back to the apology. While it’s clear that there is no mystery magnetic glitch in Toyota’s cars and that they are as safe as anyone else’s vehicles, forget the apology. First of all, investigations are news. So long as the media reports the conclusion, it’s in the public’s interest to know what’s happening. Second, Toyota’s lost its once-astute focus on quality. Rapid expansion of its model lines and sprawling archipelago of factories has made it difficult to mind every detail, which was a principal tenet of the company.

Consumer Reports has found a decline in the quality of interior finishes in Toyotas for the past three or four years, David Champion, the magazine’s director of automotive testing, told Bloomberg for a Jan. 12 story. The company whose customers once relied on Toyota for bullet-proof quality and reliability suddenly suffered a rash of problems. In fairness to my old pal Ed, some media reports accepted the unintended acceleration claims as gospel. But that alone does not exonerate Toyota. Sorry Ed, but it’s the customers - not Toyota - who deserve the apology. Toyota’s executives have apologized, and justifiably so.

Reader Comments

Fr629

February 24, 2011 5:30 PM

Mr Welch, very well said. Ed Wallace is a moron...

ed

February 24, 2011 5:36 PM

So are we saying that the Toyota problems started a little after the Toyotas were assembled here in the US?

Stats available from different assembly plants? There must be.

Charles Rogers

February 24, 2011 5:47 PM

Toyotas problems are worst than reported. Many owners have told dealers of minor computer problems, only to be told that they are the result of not knowing how to operate the feature. In my case the overdrive switch does not work as expected. The dealer said I do not know how to use the switch. It is an intermittent problem, so when I took it in it did not malfunction. I am not bringing the truck back for repair, but I am also never buying another new Toyota.

K. Weinberg

February 24, 2011 5:59 PM

GM and US goverment have been trying to bring Toyota down along with GM scrappy cars. Toyota and Japanese cars are the BEST even Mercedes/BMW/VW stand no chance to compete. It's the fact. Read the Consumer Report each year and ask average peoples on the street. Just look on the highway whenever there is a broken down car it's 99.9999% GM or Ford.

A. DeLisle

February 24, 2011 6:04 PM

My Dodge Caravan has had three recalls in the past two months. Where's the huge news story there?

An apology to Toyota is deserved.

Moo

February 24, 2011 6:16 PM

The problem isnt a bit of fabric, the problem is you dont have a clutch. Autos cause nothing but trouble, you should all learn to drive manuals like the rest of the world.
Kind Regards
English Bob (AKA Moo)

Stanislav

February 24, 2011 7:27 PM

There is something really wrong with Toyota's.

Randy Berry

February 24, 2011 7:38 PM

I find your opinions very one sided.
You act like a recall is a bad thing. Maybe it is to make something better and safer than before. Maybe the technology was not available on a 2005 model that we have now. Why do you continue to punish a company that voluntarily chooses to fix something. I must of missed your article on the current Ford recall that the DOT made them do on the F-150. Maybe you should open up your opinions and look that Toyota is making vehicles better.

Ron & Lori Eves

February 24, 2011 10:08 PM

Another NHTSA Fiasco

Well the last NHTSA-NASA investigation will prove to be a sham in the very near future.

This after the various engineers analyzed what the severely censored (redacted) items represent that Ray LaHood forgot to mention at his media photo op.

Media pundits like Ed Wallace stated the media owed Toyota an apology, which has gone over like a lead balloon.

Lets face it and be honest here, the NHSTA-NASA Toyota report was timed for release on the very day that Toyota reported that earnings had declined.

Further Toyota-Lexus being a smart business realizes that the "Baby Boomers" are in decline as purchasers.

Thus they are now moving plants to other more lucrative and emerging markets such as India, China and Indonesia as of late media reports.

Ron & Lori Eves
(Parents of deceased Chris Eves)
2007 Toyota Tundra

Nick michAel

February 24, 2011 10:30 PM

Hey NASA,Toyota,
Consider that I experienced sudden acceleration since 2002 in variety of toyotas (that's all I drive). I found that my big american shoes overlap the brake and gas pedals. I bought smaller shoes to solve the problem but the pedals need a better offset and should be redesigned for Amerricans.

Crystal Wells

February 24, 2011 10:44 PM

I have a 2005 Tacoma which has taken off and like a bullet on five separate occasions. (No floor mats by the way). Perhaps Mr. Ed Wallace would like to purchase this otherwise wonderful vehicle for his daughter or one of his grand kids as I would like to sell it to someone who is aware of it's little issue! Otherwise, I plan on keeping it because I would not be able to sleep at night knowing that some unsuspecting future buyer might kill his whole family in my Toyota truck. I'm listed in the phone book Mr. Wallace. I'll make a you a good deal!

Crystal Wells
New Orleans

marty

February 24, 2011 10:51 PM

Give it up. You are grasping at straws. Read actual NHTSA recall data. Notice that among Japanese companies the ethical behavior is to over-recall.

Check the real quality data. And look at the error prone history of Consumer Reports.

See famous Honda 2 million rusty fender recalls.

Amazing how lazy journalists have become.

Interconnect

February 25, 2011 5:04 AM

With the matured and biggest markets in Americas, Europa, Japan recalls millions. Most consumers today are in China, Indo-Pak sub-continent, SAARC region where no call todate is recalled. Toyota avoided its own presence in most markets, and sold thru TTK (Toyoda Tsusho Kaisa Ltd.) Japan which is owned by Toyota Motor Corporation. Mr. Akio Toyoda manufacturing/assembly plants most of them are in Pakistan, India, where Toyota is the leading brand, but no qauality control, or QC rating, by JD Powers or others. What has happened to Toyota. Is it only an American brand, or global brands. What is happening at Toyota Indus Motors.,Karachi about quality control.

John A.

February 25, 2011 11:10 AM

Toyota is showing the American public that it will respond to any problem, even the tiny ones, to make sure customer service is at its highest level. Toyota today has become a stronger company and will be a more quality and safety focused in the future.

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Want the straight scoop on the auto industry? Our man in Detroit David Welch, brings keen observations and provocative perspective on the auto business.

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