In the continuing fallout following General Motors’ admission that for years it failed to recall of 2.6 million vehicles with known life threatening risks, Toyota Motor Corp on April 9th announced it would recall 6.39 million faulty vehicles in the company’s second-largest recall to date.
The Toyota recall comes shortly after Chrysler recalled approximately 870,000 vehicles last week. Although Toyota tried to play down the risks to drivers, over half of the recalls involve cars with air bags that could fail to inflate in an accident while drivers are making turns.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration yesterday fined General Motors $28,000 for missing a deadline to turn over key information about a faulty ignition switch linked to 13 deaths. The regulatory agency also said it would initially issue $7,000 a day fines for non-compliance which could go as high as the $35 million maximum penalty under law. The NHTSA said the Justice Department would take GM to court if they failed to comply.
Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker, said it was not aware of any accidents or injuries involving the 27 models it is recalling. Those models include the Toyota RAV4 SUV and Yaris subcompacts; plus GM will be impacted with recalls of the Pontiac Vibe and the Subaru Trezia that were built by Toyota under outsourcing contracts.
A Toyota spokesman said 3.5 million vehicles were being recalled to replace a spiral cable that could be damaged when the steering wheel is turned, causing the air bag to fail to activate in the event of a crash. About half of those vehicles, produced between April 2004 and December 2010, are in North America.
The Toyota recall also involves 2.32 million “hatch-back” models sold between January 2005 and August 2010 that have faulty seats that could fly forward in a crash. Other recalls involve an unstated number of faulty steering column brackets, windshield wiper motors and engine starters, Toyota said.
The 6.39 million vehicle recall comes only 18 months after Toyota in October 2012 announced it would recall 7.43 million Yaris, Corolla, and other models to fix faulty power window switches. Toyota made no mention of the expense of the latest recall and if its suppliers would be held responsible for part or all of the costs of repairing such a large number of vehicles.
Toyota is no stranger to the reputation and financial risks of failing to fix known defects. Toyota was forced to recall more than 9 million vehicles to replace sticky gas pedals that would cause cars to hit maximum acceleration and caused a number of fatal crashes. Toyota paid $1.1 billion last month to settle claims the failure to recall cars with known defects hurt the value of U.S. customers’ vehicles. The company has paid a $1.2 million fine to the NHTSA and hundreds of billions of dollars to settle liability claims. Toyota President Akio Toyoda was subpoenaed last year and forced to testify to the U.S. Congress. The Toyota brand was permanently diminished and the company is still subject to potentially billions in losses from other pending lawsuits.
Reuters News Service reported that Toyota’s spokesman stated added: “We sincerely apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and concern brought by this recall announcement.”