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End Is In Sight: Toyota 80 Percent Finished With Acceleration Recalls

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On: Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 9:27AM | By: Chris Weiss


End Is In Sight: Toyota 80 Percent Finished With Acceleration Recalls

In the 2010 automotive landscape, the words "Toyota" and "recall" have taken on a near synonymous relationship that the Japanese automaker undoubtedly can't wait to shed. According to a company executive, Toyota is nearly ready to start fresh. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting warmer and brighter, and Toyota is more than 3/4 of the way toward finishing its unintended acceleration recalls.

Steve St. Angelo, Toyota's chief quality officer in the United States, recently announced that Toyota has repaired 80 percent of the vehicles involved in its 2009-2010 unintended acceleration recalls. By his reckoning, that puts it ahead of the average in terms of the percentage of cars repaired under a given recall. The automaker is focusing its attention on following up with the remaining 20 percent to ensure that all vehicles are safe to drive.

Toyota's acceleration issues began last September when it announced a recall involving 3.8 million U.S. vehicles. This initial recall was for floor mats that Toyota cited as the cause of unintended acceleration. Less than four months later, Toyota announced another major recall affecting 2.3 million U.S. vehicles, also for unintended acceleration. However, floor mats were no longer to blame, and the second recall related to a sticking accelerator pedal. In all, Toyota has recalled over 11 million vehicles worldwide in the past year.

During its recall crisis, Toyota has come under scrutiny from every angle—from U.S. government investigations to media reports to lawsuits and independent analysis. In April, after an extensive investigation, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration fined Toyota $16.4 million—the maximum that it's allowed to issue under law—for its delayed actions in the recalls. The NHTSA's investigation remains ongoing.

While the recall blitz has clearly been a rough patch for Toyota, St. Angelo was careful to stress the positives of it, indicating that it's resulted in an reinvigorated effort to increase safety throughout all stages of the manufacturing process. Toyota has implemented a variety of enhanced safety measures as a direct result of the recall problems, including a plan to offer brake override systems in its entire line by 2011, and the implementation of a new safety oversight system. The company created an independent oversight panel called the North American Quality Advisory Panel, which is led by former U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater.

St. Angelo also reiterated Toyota's stance that there are no safety issues with the electronic throttle control system: "I'm 100 percent confident that there is nothing wrong with our electric throttle system."





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