Product Liability

Toyota recalls the most vehicles for first time ever

For the first time ever, Toyota took top spot in the U.S. auto industry for the total number of vehicles recalled within a year. Toyota’s most recent recall of 4.3 million vehicles for sudden, unintended acceleration problems hurdled the company to the top of the 2009 recall list, just above Ford.

According to a report by the Detroit Free Press, auto manufacturers recalled 15.2 million vehicles in 2009, a 56 percent leap over the 8.6 million of cars recalled in 2008.

Toyota vehicles represent more than 31 percent of all the vehicles recalled in 2009. About 88 percent of all recalled Toyota vehicles were recalled because of their potential to accelerate unintentionally. Eight other Toyota recalls involved a range of defects from missing safety labels to corrosion problems on the Tundra pickup frame.

Toyota spokesman Celeste Migliore called Toyota’s ranking “unfortunate” and “one Toyota doesn’t wish to have.”

“The safety of our owners and the public remain our utmost concern, and Toyota has and will take appropriate measures to correct any defect it identifies,” Migloiore told the Free Press.

Tailing Toyota on the list is Ford, which recalled more than 4.5 million cars and trucks over faulty cruise control switches that are prone to catch fire. Ford announced 8 recalls in 2009.

Third on the list is General Motors, which recalled 2.3 million vehicles and had the widest range of defects. GM announced 17 recalls in 2009.

“We are catching most problems before they affect large numbers of customers,” GM spokesman Alan Adler told the Free Press. “The important thing is to eliminate these issues and improve reliability in the view of the people who purchase our vehicles.”

Kudos to GM for acknowledging and addressing vehicle problems early. Ignoring consumer complaints or blaming the problem on something else, an approach Toyota seems to have taken for years in handling its sudden acceleration reports, ends up costing people their lives.

According to the Free Press, the U.S. had 117 auto recalls in 2009. Of those, “21 were spurred by government regulators reviewing the same data that automakers receive.”