Special Treatment?

June 8, 2010

Earlier today, GM announced a recall of 1.5M vehicles and a few days ago Chrysler recalled 25,000 Dodge Caliber and Jeep Compass vehicles and nearly 700,000 Jeeps and minivans. In addition, GM had some recalls last year as well. Yet Toyota is the one that gets levied with a $16.4M fine?

I’m sensing that there might be a double standard here. The fine Toyota received is the largest fine issued to an auto company and it makes me wonder if all this was part of the recent increase in “Buy American” sentiment over the past couple of years. The Toyota issue didn’t make their cars that much more dangerous. Carnegie Mellon did a study that found that driving a recalled Toyota vehicle only increased the risk by 2% while walking instead of driving the recalled vehicle increased risk by 1900%. In summary, the Toyota recall ended up being exaggerated tremendously by the media and government.

Only time will tell now whether GM and Chrysler, both companies that the government has a stake in, will be subject to the same treatment Toyota had to deal with a few months ago.

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2 Responses to “Special Treatment?”

  1. Abbelani said

    To be fair, Toyota was fined for trying to cover up the defect by blaming it on carpet mats, even though they knew that wasn’t the case. That’s what they were fined for, it’s closer to corporate fraud than just a manufacturing mistake. Also the number of recalls that the media has blitzed through in the last couple of years is mind-boggling. Think it’s a decrease in the general safety of products out there, or a natural side-effect of continued innovation?

    • Ankur Gupta said

      Now was there actual evidence that Toyota knowingly knew it wasn’t the carpet mats? I haven’t run across anything that said that and the carpet mats sounds like a valid initial reasoning. Also, I remember reading that Toyota wasn’t able to recreate the problem in their labs. I overheard someone talk about how their family member worked in Toyota’s QC department and confirmed that the problem couldn’t be recreated…I don’t know how valid that source would be though.

      That is a good question you bring up though. I think it is a natural side effect of innovation because as these cooler technologies come out, more people want them and more people end up having them. But because they are still new, they haven’t been fully tested so a few small issues can lead to these massive recalls. If software could be recalled, then I would say the analogy would be Google Wave or Google Buzz.

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