Over a week ago, Toyota raised concerns when it announced the recall of 2.3 million vehicles. These concerns were validated with the company’s announcement later in the week of a massive recall in China, culminating with the announcement Friday that it also intended to recall 1.8 million vehicles in Europe as a “preventative measure”. By this time, the company had also issued an order to halt production of the eight-best selling models in the U.S.
Citing problems with floor mat entrapment and sticky gas pedals that cause unexpected acceleration, Toyota’s recall numbers have jumped to almost 9.5 billion since late last year. Both consumers and dealers were affected when Toyota halted the sales of the 2009 and 2010 RAV4, 2009 and 2010 Corolla, 2009 and 2010 Matrix, 2005 to 2010 Avalon, 2010 Highlander, 2007 to 2010 Tundra and 2008 to 2010 Sequoia.
These actions drew the attention of Congress, prompting the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to schedule a hearing next week to investigate the government’s response to Toyota’s problems. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has an early warning system in place that provides statistical forecasting to identify trends and help signal problems such as the ones Toyota is experiencing. In this case, the system did not recognize the problem, causing the House to request extensive data reports from both the NHTSA and Toyota.
However, as Toyota’s situation worsened, Friday evening brought a new announcement: Honda issued a statement voluntarily recalling 646,000 of the Fit sub-compact model due to a fire hazard posed by a faulty window switch. Neither company has released hard numbers on the number of claims that have been filed, however, the House Committee maintains that there have been at least 19 deaths caused by unexpected acceleration in Toyotas over the past decade.
The car industry has not seen problems on this scale since the massive recalls executed by Ford in 2000 over claims that the Firestone tires used on its Explorer model had caused an abnormal number of roll-over incidents. While the debate still rages over which party is at fault, Ford or Firestone, there have been at least 270 deaths and 800 injuries filed attributed to the tires and their use with Explorers.
The law firm of WWF&G has significant experience handling cases involving product liability and auto accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident that may have been related to a faulty product, please contact our firm for a Free Consultation at 1-800-WWFGLAW or 618-462-1077.