Three executives at Toyota Motor Corp., a company that built a global business on a reputation for quality, have been accused of failing to recall a vehicle they knew was faulty and could cause injuries in an accident. Interestingly, the accusation came from Japanese police officials. These officials filed papers with Japan’s prosecutors’ office relating to the need for a recall. It was alleged that three Toyota officials, all responsible for quality control, failed to recall faulty models of the Hilux Surf, a recreational vehicle sold in Japan.
The problem, a faulty relay system of rods in the steering column, was said to have surfaced in Hilux models built from 1992. It was alleged that Toyota knew about the problem from around 1995 or 1996. The police further alleged that Toyota officials knew the problem might lead to an accident. Even so, the officials failed to issue a notice of recall, according to the police. The filing to the prosecutors’ office alleges that the fault may have led to an accident in August of 2004, when a Hilux veered out of control and hit an oncoming car. Five people were injured in the accident.
Even though there were customer complaints about the Hilux in 1996, the company decided a recall wasn’t warranted. But in March and April 2004, the company received new customer complaints of a problem, and in October, Toyota decided to recall 330,000 models made between 1988 and 1996. But, Toyota said the recall had already been under consideration in July, before the August accident. Recalls have become common in the global automobile industry as cars have grown more complex. But the allegation that Toyota failed to issue a recall even though it knew of the problem is potentially a far more serious matter. Widespread coverage of a scandal at Mitsubishi Motors Corp., when courts concluded that faults with a vehicle weren’t disclosed and later led to a pedestrian death, caused serious damage to the Mitsubishi brand and contributed to a sharp decline in its sales.
Source: Wall Street Journal
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