EDITORIAL: Toyota’s situation

By NEMS Daily Journal

Toyota Motor Corporation’s serious problem with malfunctioning accelerators that has caused the company to recall 2.3 million vehicles for repairs is an undeniable safety issue and a public relations nightmare, but it is not beyond a solution.
Toyota, whose strength is intertwined with Northeast Mississippi’s economic future through the planned production of the Prius hybrid vehicle at the Blue Springs plant sitting ready for outfitting, said Monday it is confident its engineers have on the way to dealers the fix for unintended acceleration.
Dealers could begin receiving training as early as today on how to fix the gas pedals.
The company had previously recalled 5.3 million vehicles to correct a problem with floor mats that can get caught on the gas pedal and cause vehicles to unintentionally accelerate.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Safety Research and Strategies, a Massachusetts-based safety research firm, has identified 2,274 incidents of unintended acceleration in 275 crashes and at least 18 deaths since 1999. Toyota said it could not confirm those numbers.
Other automakers, including all of the Detroit Three automakers and several other foreign companies besides Toyota, have successfully dealt with their own large safety recalls through the years.
While Toyota’s gas-pedal problem is among the highest-profile safety recalls in auto history, it is far from an isolated situation.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a Website devoted to safety recalls extending over parts of five decades. Go to http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/ on the Internet for more specific information.
Eight Toyota models are involved: All 2009-10 Matrixs, 2005-10 Avalons, 2007-10 Tundras and 2008-10 Sequoia vehicles. Some 2009-10 RAV4s and Corollas, 2007-10 Camrys and 2010 Highlanders models.
The recall does not involve Lexus or Scion vehicles, and the Prius, Tacoma, Sienna, Venza, Solaris, Yaris, 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, Land Cruiser, Highlander hybrid and the Camry hybrid are not involved. Also, Camry, RAV4, Corolla and Highlander vehicles with Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) beginning with “J,” meaning that they are built in Japan, are not affected.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has advised Toyota vehicles, “Owners of these vehicles should pay attention to the operation of their accelerator pedals. If their accelerator pedal is harder to depress than normal or slower to return, it may be a precursor to a stuck pedal. These vehicles should be parked and a dealer immediately notified.”
Toyota isn’t selling the models involved until they’re repaired.
Toyota hasn’t closed the file, a responsible position, and a fix also requires cooperation from owners of affected models.