PR Crisis Mounting: Ghosts of Recalls Past Loom as Toyota Issues Its Largest Recall Since 2010’s Image-Wrecking Debacle
As Toyota prepares to initiate another large-scale vehicle recall, it can only be assumed that the ghostly memories of 2010’s debacle are vivid in management’s minds. The automaker announced that it will recall 2.5 million vehicles sold in the U.S. to fix a faulty power window switch linked to several hundred reports of smoke and fires and at least nine injuries — marking the company’s largest recall since its image-damaging recall episode two years ago, when its slumbering crisis communications was roundly criticized.
The move by Toyota follows a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration probe into the problem and is part of a global recall of nearly 7.5 million vehicles. The automaker said it is not aware of any crashes resulting from the problem, the LA Times reports.
The recall comes at a crucial time for Toyota, which has made large market-share gains in the U.S. after seeing its position slide because of a series of massive recalls in 2010, followed by inventory problems caused by last year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Through the first nine months of this year, the Toyota brand has accounted for U.S. sales of almost 1.6 million vehicles, a gain of almost 32% from the same period a year earlier. The Toyota brand’s market share has jumped to 14.4%, from 12.5%, during the same period, reports Times writer Jerry Hirsch.
“While the number of recalled vehicles is staggering, it doesn’t have the panicked safety concerns like the acceleration issues in 2010,” said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst with auto information company Edmunds.com. “It doesn’t seem like it will deal a huge blow to the company’s U.S. market share. Right now, increased competition and China should pose greater threats for the company,” she added, the Times reports.
Toyota has seen sales plunge in China because of a politically motivated boycott by consumers who are avoiding Japanese goods in connection with a territorial dispute over islands claimed by both Japan and China, the article reports.
Owners of vehicles covered by this safety recall are to receive a notification letter via first-class mail starting in late October. The repair will take approximately one hour depending on the dealer’s work schedule, according to the Times report.