(Toyota Recall story updated with information on Toyota' April 28 recall announcement on early-2003 Toyota Sequoia SUVs.)AUTO RECALL PHOTO GALLERY: 2010 Toyota Prius
NEW YORK (
) -- The scale of
vehicle recalls has been undeniably shocking.
In Sept. of 2009, Toyota announced a recall of approximately 3.8 million vehicles in the U.S. due to floormats that, according to Toyota, had a penchant for coming loose and forcing down accelerators. The problem was suspected in crashes involving Toyota cars that have killed five people.
In Jan. 2010, Toyota issued a series of recalls on 5.6 million vehicles in the U.S., due to sudden acceleration in some vehicles -- the largest-ever recall for Toyota, and among the biggest for an automaker in U.S. history. In February, Toyota recalled another 437,000 units of its 2010 Prius, Sai, Prius PHV (plug-in hybrid) and Lexus HS250h hybrids. Then on March 9
Toyota announced that it would be recalling its 2004-2009 Priuses
after news of a runaway car incident the previous day.
On that day, a 61-year-old
after his accelerator got stuck and took his car to a speed of 94 mph on a San Diego Highway. Fortunately, he was corralled to safety with the help of highway patrolmen.
Then, in the same week, another runaway Prius went on a rampage, according to reports. Reports say that a 56-year-old woman was backing out of a driveway in Harrison, N.Y., when her 2005 Prius suddenly accelerated out of control and sent her crashing into a stone wall. According to reports, the ensuing damage was substantial, but no one was seriously hurt.
Toyota's problems touched other carmakers too: France's PSA Peugeot Citroen said it recalled nearly 100,000 Peugeot 107s and Citroen C1s made in the Czech Republic, where Toyota and PSA jointly make cars.
AUTO RECALL PHOTO GALLERY: Early-2003 Model-Year Toyota Sequoia sport utility vehicle
On April 28, Toyota issued yet another recall, this time on about 50,000 early-2003 Toyota Sequoia SUVs to upgrade their stability-control system for controlling a loss of traction during turns.
This, not long after a separate call was made on about 9,400 2010 Lexus GX 460 SUVs
also due to traction concerns.
Still, the world's largest automaker is far from the only car company revealing vehicle defects and issuing recalls. Indeed, numerous automakers have issued recalls of late, including
Yes, even Ford, which has generated significant goodwill in the U.S. by virtue of the fact that it is
Toyota, has issued recalls of its own -- and has, in fact, like the other big six carmakers, received its own complaints regarding sudden acceleration, according to Edmunds.com.
AUTO RECALL PHOTO GALLERY: Chevrolet Cobalt SS
Through analysis of the government safety agency's data bases, Edmunds.com recently tallied the number of unintended acceleration complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for vehicles produced by the big six automakers, from model years 2005 to 2010.
Edmunds.com arrived at the following list:
Toyota, consisting of its Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands, logged 1,133 consumer complaints of unintended acceleration filed with the NHTSA through Feb. 3.
Ford, including the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models, received 387 complaints.
Chrysler, including the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge models, was hit with 171 complaints.
General Motors, including the Pontiac, Cadillac, GMC, Saturn, Saab, Buick, Hummer and Chevrolet brands including the Chevy Cobalt SS, above, tallied 152 complaints.
Honda, including its Acura division, received 113 complaints.
Nissan, including its Infiniti division, logged 62 complaints.
"The unintended acceleration problem has been around for a long time for every major manufacturer," as Jessica Caldwell, a pricing and industry analyst at Edmunds.com says.
AUTO RECALL PHOTO GALLERY: 2005-2006 Chrysler Town & Country
That said, the public might have to get used to seeing recalls as a trend for some time to come, and not just for unintended acceleration.
Chrysler, for one, earlier this year recalled about 300,000 minivans for problematic airbags , including the 2005-2006 Chrysler Town & Country
pictured above, Dodge Caravan and Grand Caravan.
"I think we are going to see a few more recalls in the next few months as both automakers and NHTSA step up their efforts to make sure that all vehicles are in good working order," David Silver of Wall Street Strategies says. Silver is "not saying that either were not doing a good job before, but now that all the news is circulating, the automakers don't want to be seen as lazy and putting their customers' lives on the line."
"Toyota's problems seems to dwarf the other automakers problems," Silver adds. "However, the Nissan recall could be dangerous. The braking pin comes dislodged, but it is unclear how delayed (if at all) the braking is in the car. GM's recall seems to be nothing at all; a problem with power steering where it may become a little more difficult to steer the car under 15 mph."
AUTO RECALL PHOTO GALLERY: Honda Fit
Many industry observers believe that lean times in auto-manufacturing have lead to many of the issues now plaguing the car companies -- though this conundrum isn't auto-industry specific.
"To become cost effective, the automakers were forced to try to get economies of scale by ordering parts in such large numbers and then using those parts to fit into different models," Silver explains. Thus, one problematic part can now often affect an auto maker across multiple model lines.
"This 'lean manufacturing' is partly to blame," Silver says. "However, it just means that these companies are going to have to spend some of these savings in making sure the parts work properly."
That goes for Honda, which, in January, recalled 646,000 of its Fit/Jazz
pictured above and City automobiles globally over a faulty window switch after a child died when fire broke out in a car last year. Honda later said it would recall another 438,000 cars, primarily in the U.S., to replace a faulty airbag deflator.
AUTO RECALL PHOTO GALLERY: Nissan Quest Minivan
That also goes for Nissan
pictured above, which was recalling roughly 540,000 vehicles sold primarily in the U.S. to repair possible brake pedal and fuel-gauge problems; last month, Nissan announced plans to recall tens of thousands of vehicles in Japan and thousands abroad over a possible flaw related to engine breakdowns.
Silver believes that other automakers' recalls, such as these, will take some heat off Toyota, but might also confirm larger concerns about an industry-wide problem. While Caldwell calls Toyota the "poster child of the problem," Efraim Levy of Standard & Poor's believes that Toyota will overcome its ordeal and continue to grow.
Toyota will pay a price in terms of reputation and financially, but if they can fix this problem and move on without any recurring problem, they should be fine," Levy says.
Don Esmond, Toyota's senior vice president of U.S. sales, says the automaker aims this year to regain most of the market share it lost in the U.S. over **recent months** following the massive recalls, according to
The company is aiming for up to 16.7% of new-car deliveries, which would be level with 2008, but not on par with 2009's 17%, Bloomberg reported.
How does that 16.7% figure measure up to the market share of other top auto market players? Well, Toyota will still have play more catch up, according to Autodata figures cited by
They show that GM's market share through February was 19.5% and that Ford ascended to second place with a 17.5% market share.
AUTO RECALL PHOTO GALLERY: Ford Windstar Minivans
In October of 2009, Ford completed a series of recalls involving 14 million vehicles with a faulty cruise-control deactivation switch. Ford's latest recall involved some 4.5 million vehicles. Ford decided to recall the 1.1 million Windstar minivans
pictured above made between 1995-2003 as part of this move.
Amid all the recall frenzy, it has come to light that the total number of deaths linked to
and other automakers' vehicles together exceed that of Toyota's, according to U.S. regulator data pooled from 30 years of unintended acceleration reviews,
According to the report, Ford and Chrysler vehicles were connected to the majority of fatalities, 20 and 12 respectively, following Toyota's 51.
All in all, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) received roughly 15,000 complaints related to unintended acceleration in the last ten years and ran about 140 probes on the incidents since 1980, the report says. The agency reportedly sealed most of these cases without any remedial action, instead attributing the accidents to the accidental overexertion of the gas pedal, which eventually became the general assessment for runaway vehicles and led to such cases being taken less seriously, according to safety activists who spoke with
"The Toyota case has brought new scrutiny to other factors, and NHTSA has to look at other causes," said Joan Claybrook, a former NHTSA administrator cited in the report. Meanwhile, none of this diminshes the fact that Toyota could take a painful financial hit from its recalls, legal battles and battered reputation. JP Morgan believes that Toyota could take a financial hit of $5.5 billion, which includes costs tied to both the recalls and law suits
and experience a significant dent in marketshare,
With all of this as a backdrop, we at TheStreet now ask you: Are you more inclined to forgive Toyota, knowing that Nissan, GM, Ford, Chrysler and Honda have recently experienced vehicle defects and recalls of their own? Or do you still think Toyota's actions have been uniquely rebrehensible? Take our poll below to learn what TheStreet has to say....
-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York
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