Massive (new) Toyota recall eerily mirrors G.M. recall

The media is currently focusing intense scrutiny on auto giant General Motors. Over the past several weeks, G.M. not only recalled 2.6 million vehicles due to an ignition switch defect; the company was also compelled to admit that some of its employees had been aware of the defect for years. The faulty ignition switch can cause affected models to have their engines suddenly shut down and to have their electrical systems shut down. When this occurs, airbags can fail to deploy, seat belts can fail to restrain passengers and power brakes can fail to engage.

However, G.M. is not the only auto giant currently trying to deal with a massive recall scandal involving defective airbags. Earlier this week, Toyota announced that it is recalling approximately 6.4 million vehicles worldwide. These vehicles are being recalled due to a defect that could cause airbags to fail to deploy or seats to move in the event of a collision.

Both of these recalls involve defects that could result in preventable deaths. G.M.’s defect has already been linked to more than a dozen deaths. In addition, both recalls involve safety equipment that Americans have come to depend on in the event of a crash.

However, Toyota’s recall seems to be much more aggressive than G.M.’s recall. Rather than sitting on the knowledge of a fixable defect for years like G.M., Toyota has acted quickly on its knowledge. One senior analyst employed at Kelly Blue Book recently told the New York Times that, “They’re making a very bold statement that they’re going to stay on top of those recalls, no matter what the impact.” Given Toyota’s history of recall scandals, this revised approach is certainly a welcome development.

Source: The New York Times, “Toyota to Recall 6.4 Million Vehicles,” Christopher Jensen and Hiroko Tabuchi, April 9, 2014