Roddy Graham's blog: 12 February 2010 - Sanity recalled
12 February 2010
Roddy Graham is chairman of the ICFM and commercial director of Leasedrive Velo
Vehicle recalls are grabbing the headlines these days and not always for the right reasons. There has been a wave of media hysteria over the recall of seven Toyota models in the UK, subject of potential accelerator pedal related problems. Matters need to be put into proper context and the risk is that things will eventually spiral uncontrollably into trial by media, as with so many facets of society. The Fourth Estate has a responsibility to keep things in proper perspective as does the US Transportation Secretary who irresponsibly advised owners of recalled vehicles to stop driving their cars, later claiming he was misquoted!
Earlier this week I was asked by one media outlet for any comment I may care to make on the predicted imminent further recall of Prius models for an unrelated recall. This is what I stated: "Carefully laid down procedures are in place for vehicle manufacturers to follow in the event that they have to recall a model for any particular reason. We are confident that Toyota will follow the necessary course of action should this be required in the case of the Prius. The Japanese manufacturer is already handling a major recall campaign for several of its models in a well publicised voluntary recall involving a potential sticking accelerator pedal. What should always be borne in mind in these cases is that all vehicle manufacturers take their recall responsibilities extremely seriously and customer safety is always of paramount importance to them."
Vehicle recalls are the subject of a code of practice recognised as the benchmark standard in Europe. All vehicle manufacturers have signed up to it and work closely with the relevant government agencies, the DVLA and VOSA, to ensure that owners of affected vehicles are contacted and followed-up.
Post recall investigations may highlight that the manufacturer might have acted more swiftly but we should not prejudge the case.
The irony in all this is that those vehicles affected are of Japanese manufacture, for decades held up as being among the most reliable cars built. The Honda recall announced this week underlines this irony.
For a US Transportation Secretary to have said what he did, sending Toyota shares plunging eight per cent is absolutely irresponsible and highlights a typical knee-jerk American reaction.
One could almost think that it is a planned conspiracy against the might of Toyota, having overtaken GM as the world's largest vehicle producer, by an administration who are desperate to get the great American public to buy 'great' American cars - any small move in that direction would send Copenhagen commitments up in a cloud of smoke, or should I say CO2!
I recall in the Eighties, Porsche was prosecuted for having designed and manufactured a dangerous vehicle, in this case a Porsche 911 Turbo. Notoriously tail happy when driven at its limits it was no more dangerous than other high performance cars of the time. The reason for the prosecution? The drunken driver had been involved in a fatal accident having driven at speeds in excess of 90mph in a residential district. Enough said! It's just like the case of microwave ovens having to carry an extra warning after a pet owner killed her cat by trying to dry it in the said item!
The fact is that from all accounts the Toyota accelerator problems develop over time, are not sudden, and have affected only a comparatively handful of cars. Let common sense prevail and, as fleet management providers, we have our part to play as 'intermediaries' between vehicle manufacturer and our fleet clients and their drivers. After all, collectively, we are the biggest new vehicle customers in the UK.