As most of you know, Toyota announced a recall of 2.3 million cars and halted immediate sales of the following cars due to an unintended acceleration problem:
• 2009-2010 RAV4
• 2009-2010 Corolla
• 2009-2010 Matrix
• 2005-2010 Avalon
• 2007-2010 Camry
• 2010 Highlander
• 2007-2010 Tundra
• 2008-2010 Sequoia
A few people have called me and asked if I could provide any insights. While I am going to refrain from attempting to explain in detail about what might have caused the issue, one common theme becomes very evident when I saw the list above.
First, all of the cars above are US-built cars, and second, they all use an accelerator mechanism built by two suppliers: Denso and CTS Automotive. The Japan-produced Camry hybrid and Highlander hybrid, for example, are NOT in the recall list.
What is fascinating is that the Denso-supplied acceleration mechanism does not appear to be causing the issues. In fact, the reported issue appears to be coming from vehicles equipped with CTS automotive-supplied parts. It's interesting to note that Denso - Japan's largest automotive supplier and Toyota's number-one rated supplier - is supplying an accelerator system that is slightly differnt than CTS's. CTS Automotive, which is now in the center of this investigation, is an American-based supplier located in Indiana.
I am not in a position to point fingers or make any dramatic statements, but yes, there is a "pattern" and "cause and effect" going on here. I am sure that once Toyota completes the investigation, the root cause will be crystal clear, but this is as much insight as I can provide at the moment.
I am careful to point out that this is not a "Japan vs US" supplier issue, nor am I implying that US-built cars are inferior to Japan-built ones. In fact, in JD Power's quality surveys, the US-built cars are often rated the same or even higher than Japan-built vehicles.
I am simply pointing out the facts and you can make your own conclusions.
So how is Toyota handling to solve this problem?
On Jan. 11. 2010, Yoshi Inaba, president of Toyota North America, said that Toyota, will deal with the first recall involving floor mats, by installing a brake-override system on all new Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles, beginning this month. He also said the new system and reshaped pedals "absolutely" should resolve the problem of unintended acceleration. "Inaba was appointed to his post last year to deal with sagging quality and increased recalls affecting Toyota's North American–built vehicles. We must be closer to the market. Every day is a lesson. This is one we learned the hard way," said Inaba.
As you would expect from Toyota, they are not HIDING the issue or running away from it. For that matter, they are facing it head-on and solving it actively in a spirit of kaizen. You may want to note that the recalls are "voluntary recalls," meaning that Toyota was not forced to recall by the authorities. They are proactively recalling the vehicles to ensure that all possible causes are eliminated immediately, to ensure the safety and satisfaction of their customers.
Toyota is not a "perfect" company, but instead, I see them as a "learning" and "problem solving" company. They will learn from this and emerge as a stronger company, I am sure.