Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sticking Points - A Word on the Toyota Recall

By David Halpert, assistant editor

It seems you can't turn on your television without hearing about Toyota and their latest woes regarding the recall. At the time I'm writing this North American recalls have totaled one million while worldwide recalls have estimated figures of around over two million. While it's difficult to determine the estimated fallout from this recalls--which can range anywhere from Toyota losing customers, to civil suit, to vehicles careening out of control on the highway--I side with Toyota on taking swift action to alert its customers of the problem and doing their best to 'contain' the situation.

Of course I say this with a huge grain of salt. For one, I don't drive a Toyota model (I drive a Pontiac), so I can't even imagine what it must be like to hear about this recall over the radio while driving on the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto in the middle of winter at 80km/h. I'm also aware that it's a serious issue when a product malfunction can lead to severe injury or even death. However, I'm still daunted by the enormity of this recall, and how I can't go two minutes on a busy street without seeing an affected model driving past me.

But recalls don't come cheap either, especially ones that include redesigned floor mats, reconfigured accelerator pedals, and a brake override feature on all vehicles built before 2010.

I'm sure there are technicians (and customers) that will disagree with me on this issue, but if anything I think other companies (not just in the automotive sector either) should take the Toyota recall as a case study when it comes to how a company takes care of their customers and their safety. Others will argue that the problem should never have happened in the first place, but once again I can't offer any answers other than to say "these things happen" and no amount of product research and development can predict how these vehicles will operate months, or even years, down the road.


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