Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Toyota tells dealers to stop selling eight model cars covered by recall

This is a huge blow for Toyota. From the Los Angeles Times:

Toyota Motor Corp. is temporarily halting sales and production of eight models, including the top-selling Camry and Corolla, that it has recalled because the accelerator pedal can stick and cause unwanted acceleration.

The automaker announced the recall of 2.3 million cars and trucks late last week. That came just months after Toyota launched its largest-ever recall -- 4.3 million vehicles -- because floor mats could trap the gas pedal and also cause sudden acceleration.

Today, Toyota informed its roughly 1,200 U.S. dealers to immediately halt sales of both new and used models of the affected vehicles: the 2009 to 2010 RAV4, 2009 to 2010 Corolla, 2009 to 2010 Matrix, 2005 to 2010 Avalon, 2010 Highlander, 2007 to 2010 Tundra and 2008 to 2010 Sequoia. It also is halting sales of certain 2007 to 2010 Camry sedans, depending on where those vehicles were manufactured.

Toyota also said it would stop production of those models on five assembly lines in the U.S. and Canada, effective Monday.

The automaker did not say how long it would freeze sales of those vehicles, which represent the majority of its sales, by volume, in the U.S.

"At this point, we don't know," Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said about a remedy for the problem. He said that Toyota had never before issued a "stop sale" order. "I'm not going to speculate on how long this will be in effect."

This has become a huge problem for Toyota--a recall of eight models produced over a span of 3-5 years, affecting over 6 million cars. I do not even think that Toyota really knows what the problem is with these cars regarding unexpected acceleration. What is more, both the recall and the halting of sales affects some of Toyota's best-selling models--including the Camry, the Corolla, the Tundra, and the Highlander--affecting Toyota's small car, truck, and SUV platforms. So far, Toyota is now taking the right steps now in both issuing the recall order and halting the sales of their vehicles. But apparently Toyota has been rather late in issuing such a recall, according to this ABC News story:

The major announcement comes just days after Toyota recalled 2.3 million vehicles to correct the sudden unexplained acceleration in some of its models, after ABC News informed the company that the latest in a long series of investigative reports on the issue was about to air.

Safety expert Sean Kane told ABC News that since last fall, when Toyota said it had solved the acceleration problem with proposed changes to gas pedals and a recall of 4.2 million cars with suspect floor mats, more than 60 new cases of runaway Toyotas have been reported.

In the most tragic incident, on the day after Christmas, four people died in Southlake, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, when a 2008 Toyota sped off the road, through a fence and landed upside down in a pond. The car's floor mats were found in the trunk of the car, where owners had been advised to put them as part of the recall.

"There's one thing that didn't cause the accident," said Southlake police spokesman Lt. Ben Brown.

Federal safety investigators have joined in the investigation, according to Lt. Brown.

Toyota had a reputation for producing safe, quality-made cars. This latest order to halt sales will probably severely tarnish Toyota's image as a quality car-maker, not to mention the losses Toyota will take in U.S. car sales market as a result of the halting of sales and production of these models. The longer this halting of sales and production of Toyota cars takes place, the greater the losses that Toyota will incur. And it is not just dollar amounts of lost sales, but also potentially long-term, loyal Toyota customers who will be shopping for other manufacturer's cars.

No comments: