While Toyota has recall troubles in one of their largest markets, elsewhere in the world, another carmaker has serious recall troubles in one of their biggest markets. We usually don’t comment on each and every recall everywhere, but this one warrants mention: Brazil’s Justice Ministry has fined Fiat’s Brazilian subsidiary 3 million Reais (about $1.7 million) for failing to comply with four recall orders. Fiat had been asked to recall Stilo models to fix a wheel problem that may (note the key word “may”) have caused 8 deaths since 2004, says Business Week. No recall followed.
According to the report, 8 people died in 30 accidents involving Fiat Stilos which lost their rear wheels. If you wheels come off, Fiat can hardly blame “driver error”. According to Justice Ministry spokesperson, Renato Oliveira, the problem was first reported in 2004 and after an investigation, the first recall was requested 2 years later.
Oliveira said “Fiat was asked to recall the Stilos in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 but the company, claiming there was nothing wrong with the wheels, refused to issue the recall, which is why we have fined Fiat.” There may be another fine coming: The Sao Paulo Consumer Protection Service may fine Fiat Brazil the same 3 million Reais (again about $1.7 million) for “marketing a product it should have known was dangerous.”
Fiat has announced that they will recall the cars (a fine can have that effect on companies). Despite this scathing criticism, Fiat still denies there is a problem. Take a tip from Akio Toyoda, bow a lot and vow to improve quality.