The Japanese automaker, the world’s largest auto company, is today in a shameful situation: federal regulators supervise its safety operations. The latest string of recalls is a sign that its problems are far from over.
Four years have passed since the scandal about Toyota’s unintended acceleration issues made the worldwide headlines. In the mean time Chairman Akio Toyoda has vowed to change the approach to safety and rethink the automaker’s corporate culture. Also, in one of the largest probes in the auto industry, the carmaker pleaded guilty to accusations of misleading the public trust, paid an enormous fine and agreed to have a US official as a supervisor for its safety.
Now, Toyota just issued its fourth recall that surpasses the 1 million mark (1.75 million, to be more precise) this year, signaling the underlying weakness of the industry when it comes to safety and the recall process in itself. This is the first global campaign since David Kelley, a New York-based partner at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP (and former US attorney) was named by the US Justice Department in August in charge of Toyota’s safety policy.
Following news that General Motors needed more than a decade to issue a recall for a proven fatal flaw, regulators and the public opinion have been intensely scrutinizing the automakers and what is called the recall lag – the time needed between finding about a potential safety hazard and actually issuing the service campaign.