Toyota Motor Corp.president Akio Toyoda has announced today that Toyota will install a brake override system on all of its future cars worldwide, says a story in the Los Angeles Times. Many in the car business couldn't understand Toyota's dogged resistance to including this feature in its cars.
In addition, the LA Times reports that Toyota is considering a recall of its popular Corolla subcompact because of consumer complaints with the car's power steering. This story last week in Automotive News says that drivers "have compared the movement to being buffeted by strong winds, sliding on black ice, or hydroplaning."
Also last week, Toyota announced a voluntary recall of 8,000 of its 2010 Tacoma four-wheel-drive pickups for possible cracks in their front drive shaft that might cause it to separate, as well as that it was also going to look into complaints of sudden acceleration in 2005 and later model Tacoma's as well, USAToday reports. This investigation goes beyond the floor mat issue that the Tacoma was already being recalled for.
Further, a Wall Street Journal article reports today that president Toyoda said that he was going to personally lead a new global quality-control task force. Shinichi Sasaki, Toyota Executive Vice President provided more details about this global quality initiative here.
That action will not likely impress the US government which is now demanding that Toyota turn over all documents related to the various recalls to determine what Toyota knew and when did it know it. Toyota can be fined up to $16.4 million if US regulators believe it did not initiate a recall in a timely manner. Toyota said it is cooperating with the US in these matters.
Finally, there is a story in the Financial Times of London that reports that Toyota is now facing dozens of lawsuits that could cost it billions of dollars in damages. Lawsuits have been filed not only claiming personal injuries from car defects, but also from Toyota dealers, car auction and others who demanding compensation for Toyota's freeze on sales of 8 of its recalled models. Other lawsuits are demanding compensation for loss of resale value of Toyota cars.
Things can't get much worse for Toyota, unless electronics are indeed found to be a cause of sudden acceleration in some of its vehicles.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.