After consumer complaints over quality issues in its home market of Korea and a string of recalls there, in the U.S. and other countries. Hyundai Motor Group’s president for research and development, Kwon Moon-sik and two other executives in charge of engineering and electronics have resigned. The shakeup comes as the automaker prepares some important new vehicle launches.
One blah Monday morning, you’re commuting to the anonymous office park some 90 minutes away from the bedroom community you call a home in your equally anonymous Toyota Camry Hybrid, listening to yet another story about Congress kicking cans down roads and/or some wacky antics your favorite DJs had the past weekend while you take another swig of that mermaid-branded caffeinated goodness.
Issues about fire safety continue to affect the Jeep brand as the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced today that it is opening an investigation into 146,000 2012 model year Grand Cherokees, after receiving reports from three consumers who say that the headliners of their cars caught fire near the passenger side sun visor.
“The customers reported a burning odor and visible smoke coming from the headliner while the vehicle was being driven. This was followed by flames from the headliner itself. Customers lowered the windows in an effort to clear the smoke but this increased the fire’s intensity. All three vehicles had to be extinguished with a fire extinguisher or by the fire department as they continued to burn after the vehicle was turned off . The fire also caused the sunroof to shatter in one incident, and in another, the fire spread to the passenger seat when the burning sun visor fell onto the seat. In each case, the incident resulted in the vehicle being inoperable requiring it to be towed to the dealership.”
In an interview with Automotive News (registration required), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration director David Strickland said that if automakers want to keep their cars and trucks from getting recalled, those cars must not just meet standards in effect at the time vehicles are produced, but that the car companies must also make sure they stay as safe, statistically, as competitors’ products that use different designs.
It hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention as the handful of early production Tata Nanos that caught fire, or the Ferrari 458 recall, also for fire safety issues, or the newly expanded investigation into Jeep Wranglers burning, and certainly not nearly the attention given the near non-event with that one crash tested Chevy Volt, but BMW appears to have a corporate wide fire problem with turbocharged models that has now resulted in recalls of BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce vehicles. (Read More…)
For decades, I’ve been seeing Ford-family vehicles with ugly, pointless warning labels stuck to their instrument panels: Unexpected and possibly sudden vehicle movement may occur if these precautions are not taken. I’d always assumed that these were ex-rental cars, but after I mentioned the warning stickers in this week’s ’75 Ford Maverick Junkyard Find post, several readers pointed out that the stickers were the result of Malaise Era litigation. Of course! (Read More…)
The massive wave of recalls that brought some 9 million Toyotas back to the dealers, amidst a frenzied coverage by a sometimes hysteric media, did less damage to the brand than imagined. A study from North Carolina State University shows that Toyota’s safety-related recalls that began in 2009 had little to no impact on how consumers perceived the brand. (Read More…)
There is no “all clear” at Toyota. The company is still “on a crisis footing a year after the first of a wave of recalls of more than 12m vehicles.” This is the bottom line of an article the Financial Time wrote after talking to Shinichi Sasaki, the board member responsible for quality at Toyota. What is even more interesting: The article was put on The Nikkei [sub] newswire, which brought it to worldwide attention.
Sasaki makes some alarming statements: (Read More…)
Remember Toyota’s alleged sudden acceleration? And the hysteria surrounding it? Dubious databases were searched for dead bodies. The Secretary of Transportation himself recommended to stop driving your Toyota, and to drive it to the dealer instead – very carefully. Luckless swing club entrepreneurs took to driving a Prius instead, brakes smoking. Lawyers around the nation had wet dreams involving a Gulfstream V (or a 80 foot Sunseeker as a fall-back position.) As nothing of substance was found, the NHTSA asked the august body of the National Academy of Sciences to find the ghost in the machine.
Don’t even bother to look, it’s a worthless search. That’s what Paul Fischbeck, a professor of social and decision sciences and engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, told the National Academy of Sciences. (Read More…)
I hate to get all “workers of the world unite”, but management seems to get away with a hell of a lot more than the rank and file. Take Prudential’s bid to take over AIG’s Asian arm. The bid failed and the whole exercise cost Prudential £377m (about $579.5m). Digest that figure for a second, then digest the next fact. The CEO, Tidjane Thiam, refuses to stand down over this mistake. Now consider this, if you, as a rank and file member, would cost the company you work for just 1 percent of that previous figure, could you honestly expect to keep your job? Now let’s look at the FIATsco incident. The whole affair cost GM $2b. Again, had you have cost the company you work for just 1 percent of that figure, could you keep you job? After writing this paragraph, I find the next story almost heartwarming. (Read More…)
The Nikkei [sub] reminds Toyota fanpersons and Toyota haters alike that Toyota “still faces uncertain times despite the preliminary findings of a U.S. Transportation Department investigation that indicate driver error may have been a contributing factor.” You mean, that wasn’t the fat lady? You mean, we have to wait for someone more obese? (Read More…)
Some people (like about half of the nation) are convinced the Government has a conflict of interest when it comes to Toyota. Many believe there is a witchhunt against Toyota by a government, and by unions that want GM’s major competitor bleed money and market share before the big GM IPO. 25 percent believe the criticism stems from an outright desire to help GM, while 38 percent disagree and 37 percent aren’t sure. Whatever the reason may be, Toyota is beginning to show battle fatigue. (Read More…)
The one thing I love about the car industry it its ironic sense of humour. Remember the four dead brands of GM? Who’d have thought SAAB would be the last man standing? When Ford was trading at $1 a share and their stock was labelled “Junk” status, who’s have thought they’d be where they are now? Now, I can’t speak for the rest of the B&B, but I’m, personally, sick of this UA business with Toyota. I’ve been rather sceptical from the start and very little has happened to change my mind. However, the God of Irony is still working in the car industry and whilst I was grazing the internet today, I came across this belter: Unintended deceleration. (Read More…)
More and more Americans have recently detected that they have a rich uncle in Japan. The uncle’s name is Toyota. From LaHood to a bevy of lawyers, all have a yen for Toyota’s money. Latest (but surely not last) to join the fray: State Farm. You know, that same insurance company that had disclosed all those claims to NHTSA and never received an answer. They went public with the story a few days before the congressional hearings. Now we know why: Like a good neighbor, State Farms wants its money back.
“Armed with reports of accidents for which they’ve already paid claims, State Farm insurance has asked Toyota to repay them for any crashes related to unintended acceleration by its vehicles,” reports USA Today. The request for a little Farm Aid is just the beginning.
Other insurance companies are expected to – make that will follow and ask for money. In the trade, this is called “subrogation.” No, it’s not a kinky sex practice. (Read More…)