For the rash of recalls that have reached across the industry, carmakers must surely regard the past few years as their ‘anni horribiles’.
For the potential damage it does to hard-won reputations, even when blameless (such as the Takata airbags issue, which has dragged so many brands, models, and model years into its global footprint of affected cars), no manufacturer gleefully issues a recall.
Toyota has had one of the toughest times of it. In May, it recalled nearly five million cars affected by the faulty airbag ‘inflators’, now it has another recall issue on its plate.
And it is the ‘standard bearer’ for the Toyota badge – its Prius line of hybrid cars – that is affected.
Toyota Motor Corporation has announced a recall of around 650,000 of its Prius V hybrids to attend to a potential software malfunction that “could, in limited cases, shut down the hybrid system while the car is being driven” (Reuters).
The vehicles potentially affected were manufactured between May 2010 and November 2014.
Despite the global reach of this recall, there have been no reports of vehicle crashes nor injury. The majority of affected vehicles, 340,000, have been sold in Toyota’s home market of Japan. There are 160,000 in Europe and 120,000 in North America.
We have not yet spoken to Toyota Australia, but concerned Pruis V owners here should check with their local Toyota dealer (and will no doubt be notified).
All recalls, particularly ‘the big ones’, create a huge cost borne by the manufacturers concerned. So how has Toyota weathered things? Quite well in fact; this year it expects to report a record net profit (after tax and other liabilities) for the third year in a row.
And the fact is, in mature markets, given the complexity of modern cars and the liabilities that manufacturers are exposed to should a product potentially carry even the smallest risk of failure, manufacturers ‘bite the bullet’ early to be on the side of caution.
How they do it can turn an opportunity into a PR nightmare.