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Global recall of Toyota's Prius

12 February 2010

Toyota’s high profile product recall woes continued this week with the news of the global recall of their flagship Prius hybrid model. The problem is apparently a software glitch, which delays braking under certain conditions. This follows hot on the heels of an entirely separate product recall for faults with the accelerator “sticking” on certain other Toyota models.

From a legal point of view, if vehicles were not recalled and fixed then Toyota would be more likely to face prosecution by the authorities for selling unsafe goods, and they could still face a wealth of civil claims due to injuries caused to the general public. It has also been suggested that Toyota drivers could be committing an offence of dangerous driving, if they ignore the recall notice and continue to drive their vehicles.

Clearly global recalls will be a logistical nightmare, and damage consumer confidence in the Toyota brand – particularly now that it has been reported that there is a separate safety defect in another Toyota model.

It is for this reason that brand owners always need to be prepared to take swift and decisive action in the event of a reported safety defect. Toyota have issued recall notices, they have made a public apology for the problems, they have used YouTube to disseminate information about the accelerator issue, and they have launched a hotline for consumers to call if they are concerned. However, for some people, Toyota could be said to have taken too long to decide on recalls globally. Toyota’s hotline has also been overloaded with calls.

Could better handling of the recall have avoided falling share prices?

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