Toyota Taking Heat

In January of 2010, Toyota sent out a massive recall on various models that date from 2005-2010. The vehicles involved with the recall include the 2009-2010 models of the RAV4, Corolla and Matrix as well as the 2010 Highlander, any 2007-2010 models of the Tundra and Camry, and any 2008-2010 models of the Sequoia. Customers claiming that loose floor mats caused jammed gas pedals demanded the first recall in January, as the company saw a second recall hit shortly after for reported sticking gas pedals. Before the recall in January, Toyota held a paramount reputation as a company that produces durable cars that rarely have problems. “My whole family drives Toyotas and I love my car. Even though it’s old, it never has problems,” Senior Allison Port said. As a Toyota owner, Port said that when she found out about the recall, she was glad that the model she drives was not included.

Another senior, John Paul Trojan also said that his family is loyal to the Toyota name due to their durability. “My uncle bought three Avalons and none of them are problematic. The one that he gave me was made before the new CEO took over. Our other cars are having problems, but not the Toyota,” Trojan said.

Akio Toyoda, president and CEO of Toyota, took over the company in 2005 as he implemented his own series of changes for the company. Akio’s grandfather, the former CEO, pledged to maintain a solid reputation by fixing minor problems along the assembly line during the car building process. As the new president, Akio disregarded this course of action as he revoked his employee’s right to stop the assembly line over a minor fault. This opened the door for problems to surface within the car building stages.

As seen in the list of recalled vehicles, the earliest year is 2005. Students as well as other car dealers are noticing that this problem could have been avoided. “I think they’ve been side stepping it rather than facing it head on and saying ‘let’s fix this’,” Owner Jerry Holz of Holz Chevrolet said. “If you see a problem, face it. Do your best to fix it, instead of trying to cover it up. I think that’s a big difference, our experience with GM has always been to face the problem.” Toyota not only faces a tarnished reputation, but also a massive load of cars with depreciated value. “Their cars have gone down in drastic amounts of value, that’s another thing that happens when you don’t take care of something like this,” Chevy dealer Gary Schwind said. Cases were reported across the country of deadly accidents due to sticking accelerators as law suits filed in against Toyota. Senior Rachel Bekele, owner of a new Toyota van, found out how dangerous a jammed accelerator can be. “I was happy with Toyotas until my dad and sister got into an accident with our van that is a 2006 or 2007. They were driving on the freeway and the accelerator stuck so they were slamming into the walls of the freeway and other cars,” Bekele said.

“In recent months, Toyota has investigated isolated reports of sticking accelerator pedal mechanisms in certain vehicles without the presence of floor mats,” said Toyota Motor Sales Group Vice President Irv Miller. “Our investigation indicates that there is a possibility that certain accelerator pedal mechanisms may, in rare instances, mechanically stick in a partially depressed position or return slowly to the idle position. Consistent with our commitment to the safety of our cars and our customers, we have initiated this voluntary recall action.”