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For the third year in a row, Toyota‘s recall campaigns affected the most vehicles compared to any other automaker in 2011. With 13 campaigns launched in 2011, Toyota recalled over 3.5 million vehicles while GM issued the greatest number of recalls with 21.
General Motors’ affected vehicle total was only 455,901 despite the overwhelming number of recalls issued. Over half of those vehicles recalled were the newly-launched Chevrolet Cruze compact, a total of 231,319 over three different recalls.
Ford was in second place with 3.2 million vehicles affected over 10 recall campaigns. Honda had 11 recalls affecting 2 million vehicles putting them in third place. Comparatively speaking, Nissan was stellar with just 273,700 vehicles affected through seven recalls.
Toyota was fined $32.5 million for failing to issue recalls in a timely fashion by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has caused the Japanese automaker to issue recalls more readily.
[Source: Ward's Auto]
When it comes to family sedans and smaller cars and SUVs, for the last two decades, Honda and Toyota ranked as top choices for many Americans. Not any more. It seems that more and more U.S. motorists that once drove Corollas, Civics, Accords and Camrys exclusively are now looking at alternatives.
Although supply of certain Toyotas and Hondas is still proving problematic following the March 11 earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, the decline in both automaker’s fortunes is being blamed on a lot more than just natural disasters.
According to Eric Nobel, of the Orange, California based consulting firm The Car Lab, both Honda and Toyota are losing ground, because their products haven’t been competitive in crucial market segments since the first half of the last decade. He particularly cites Toyota’s slipping quality control and the widespread recalls that have tarnished its reputation among American consumers, as well as Honda’s lack of innovation.
Although the Camry is still currently the best-selling car in America, it’s market share of the mid-size sedan segment has been dropping since 2008. Currently it’s around 9.6 percent, that contrasts sharply with 14.2 percent a couple of years ago.
Toyota’s Corolla and Honda’s Civic and Accord haven’t fared much better. Even Consumer Reports, which once championed these cars as the top of the list when it came to recommended buys, didn’t rate a single one of them as a top pick in it’s most recent findings, instead choosing cars such as the Hyundai Sonata and Nissan Altima over the former ‘favorites.’
Even domestic brands such as Ford and Chevrolet, once dismissed by many, are making a comeback. According to Edmunds.com, some 14.3 percent of people normally shopping for a Civic are looking at the new 2012 Focus as an alternative, while more than 10 percent are considering the Chevy Cruze.
Neverthless, Toyota says that it is “not going to stand still,” according to U.S. spokesman Joe Tetherow and will be “coming back with something significant.” That something will likely comprise a range of new or significantly updated models, including a next generation Camry.
Whether it will be enough to win back customers and turn the tide of flagging sales remains to be seen.
A former in-house attorney with Toyota Motor Corporation, has been ordered by a Southern California arbitrator to pay Toyota $2.6 million in damages following the leaking of confidential documents to the public, relating to vehicle rollover accidents and subsequent recalls.
Retired Federal Judge, Gary Taylor said that Dimitris P. Biller, the attorney who worked in house for Toyota for four years, defending the automaker against lawsuits blamed on faulty manufacturing for causing rollover accidents, broke an underlying rule, the safeguard of his client’s confidences.
Biller left Toyota in 2007 and subsequently disclosed confidential information regarding these lawsuits on his website, through seminars, media interviews and also to a Texas court hearing without a subpoena.
Judge Taylor stated that by doing so, Biller was acting as a whistleblower and the damage Toyota suffered as a result of the leaked information was “real and extensive.” Biller claims that he leaked the information as a matter of public safety.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that, according to the law, Biller still did not have the right to disseminate a client’s confidential information and as a result the ruling stands.
The damages awarded to Toyota include $2.5 million for unauthorized disclosures of confidential information as well as $100,000 in punitive damages. Taylor also issued Biller instructions to return the confidential documents he obtained while employed by Toyota.
Generally, most arbitration agreements like this one tend to remain confidential affairs, but in this case, Taylor allowed Toyota to make the ruling public to neutralize the effect the leaked documents had on making a one-sided argument against the automaker relating to the rollover accidents.
In a written statement, Christopher Reynolds, Toyota’s group vice president and general counsel stated “Toyota takes its legal obligations very seriously and works hard to uphold the highest professional and ethical standards. We are gratified that the credibility of Toyota’s legal organization and the integrity of our legal professionals have been validated.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that, over the last decade, it has received approximately 3,000 reports of unintended vehicle acceleration from Toyota vehicles, causing crashes that resulted in 93 deaths. However, to date, the government has only been able to confirm two deaths and five accidents.
From viewing the news over the last 12 months you’d be forgiven for thinking that 2010 was the year that automotive recalls broke records, and indeed the 2010 total was higher by about some 800,000 vehicles over 2009.
Toyota‘s highly publicized woes, including hearings before congress, fueled much of recall ‘mania’ in 2010, while a number of other automakers, including Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda and Nissan, also issued a number of bulletins. Yet, despite a total of 136 separate recall programs, spread across 17.2 million vehicles, 2010 still wasn’t a record year. By contrast, back in 2000, a total of 24.3 million vehicles were recalled for defects, most notably first generation Ford Explorers for the Firestone tire blow-out fiasco.
However, getting back to 2010, out of the total 17.2 million vehicles, according to Ward’s Auto World, Toyota still led the way, with some 17 separate recalls covering 6.6 million vehicles. Also, according to Ward’s the Japanese automaker is still only 65 percent done with repairing the 5.6 million cars, vans and light trucks recalled in 2010 for faulty floormats.
[Source: Ward's Auto World]
Unrelated to any past brake recalls the recall involves the parking brake bracket that could become damaged by repeated use of the foot-actuated parking brake pedal. Toyota warns that damage to the bracket could lead to brake lights that appear on, or in extreme cases ‘dragging’ brakes, which could wear the brakes out over time.
In total 94,000 Sienna minivans are affected by the recall, all dating from the 2011 model year.
Toyota will notify Sienna owners and provide a fix free of charge. Those with questions are asked to call the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331.
Official release after the jump:
Toyota has announced that it will open six new product quality field offices (PQFOs) in different regions in North America next month, as it continues to reclaim its long-standing reputation for building quality vehicles. Earlier this year, Toyota opened its first such field office in New York and is set to open a second one in July in San Francisco.
Additional facilities are earmarked to be located in Jacksonville, FL to study heating, ventilation and air conditioning issues; Houston, TX to focus on trucks and chassis components; and Denver, CO to examine high altitude performance and SUV models. In addition two Canadian centers will be opened, with one in Calgary and one in Toronto.
Located with Toyota Motor Sales offices, Toyota wants to use the new PQFOs to investigate consumer complaints, with trained engineers and technicians working with local dealers and reporting to Toyota HQ. Toyota also says that the data it obtains from these new centers will be used in future quality improvement.
Official release after the jump:
Toyota‘s had a rough year, with recalls, fines, and a brand image that has taken a Tito Ortiz-style punch to the jugular, and the latest jab comes from Minneapolis, MO’s Brave New Workshop, former stomping ground of Senator and political satirist Al Franken. “Toyota: The Runaway Musical Hit” has become quite the hot ticket in Minneapolis, a musical review chock full of double-entendre and puns set against a backdrop of a runaway Toyota and the developing relationships of its passengers.
To publicize the show, producers placed an ad on CraigsList seeking a Prius owner who was looking to sell their car, and the company would have an informal auction at the end of the performance. Although the chosen Prius owner was seeking about $16,000 for his used hybrid, after 90 minutes of anti-Toyota satire, it’s not surprising that the auction failed to clear $2,000.
“Toyota: The Runaway Musical Hit” is playing now, so for all you Twin Cities folks, you can buy tickets here.
[Source: NY Times Autos]