Pay too much attention to the mainstream media over the past two months and it might seem surprising that Toyota is selling any new cars at all.
The global recall was prompted by a fault that could lead (and did in a few cases) to accelerator pedals failing to return to their original position.
The scale of the problem – the number of vehicles involved, particularly in North America – resulted in news reports overtaking events and it became the lead story on news bulletins.
The company, which had grown to the world’s biggest by sales volume, was criticised in some quarters for failing to react quickly enough.
However, Toyota argues that it was focused on implementing a strategy to replace components on 180,000 vehicles in the UK, rather than deal with mainstream media.
Representatives in the field have been reassuring customers by outlining work being carried out to rectify the problem.
And since repairs began less than two months ago, about half of all affected vehicles have been given a clean bill of health.
Mark Roden, general manager, Toyota and Lexus fleet, said: “About 180,000 vehicles in the UK were affected in the recall, and about 35,000 of those were with fleet customers.
"As of March 25, we have repaired about 119,000 of them at a rate of about 23 per centre, per day.”
Toyota also identified that a further 9,700 Prius required a ‘reflush’ of brakes software. Already more than 6,800 have been repaired, about 70% of the total.
Toyota has worked closely with VOSA and the DVLA on both these issues.
“The accelerator pedal problem was a safety recall, but the brakes issue with the Prius was not,” said Roden.
He added: “There have been 18 safety recalls for vehicles since our announcement, but we haven’t seen these reported as widely.”
Roden is confident the recall will not have done long-term damage to Toyota, although it might have affected the choice of people ready to change their cars now.
“It doesn’t seem to have affected order rates for the brand and people who buy Toyotas,” he said. “And particularly by the fleet industry.
“There may be people who may have been on the cusp of choosing Toyota who might now be saying ‘not this time’.
“But we will continue to reassure people that we still make good cars.”
Mike Hind, communications manager, CAP: “It is no surprise that the trade has not fallen for the media hype surrounding Toyota’s recent recall issues.
“What is perhaps most heartening, however, is that it suggests a degree of scepticism among the buying public too, who appear not to have been swayed away from the brand.
"Toyota has helped the situation by quietly getting on with the work needed to prevent a loss of confidence among existing owners.
“The reality is that recalls are a routine matter and Toyota’s reputation for build quality and reliability carries more weight than an often-sensationalised story.”
Toyota recall timeline
- Late 2009 Awareness at Toyota – problem with accelerator identified. Fix agreed and tested. Production changes implemented
- January 28 Recall announcement
- w/c February 1 Action plan agreed:
- recall website launched parts supply confirmed
- February 8-9 Entire Toyota Centre network trained
- February 10 Repairs begin
- w/c February 15 Recall letters sent to customers
- March 25 About 119,000 of 180,000 affected cars repaired
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