Toyota Drives 2010 Recall Levels

Auto makers issued 136 recall campaigns in the U.S. in 2010 with implications for an estimated 17.2 million light vehicles, making it one of the poorest performances in recent years but short of the record 24.3 million in 2000. It's a big number, says Bruce Belzowski, associate director of the Automotive Analysis Div. at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. Last year, 16.4

James M. Amend, Senior Editor

January 1, 2011

2 Min Read
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Auto makers issued 136 recall campaigns in the U.S. in 2010 with implications for an estimated 17.2 million light vehicles, making it one of the poorest performances in recent years but short of the record 24.3 million in 2000.

“It's a big number,” says Bruce Belzowski, associate director of the Automotive Analysis Div. at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

Last year, 16.4 million vehicles, including some heavy-duty models, were recalled, National Highway Traffic Safety Admin. data shows.

But, Belzowski says, the sheer quantity of vehicles called back for fixes must be tempered against the severity of the campaigns.

In other words, for every potentially sticky accelerator pedal or faulty power steering pump, campaigns are initiated to fix relatively innocuous items, such as an incorrect equipment label.

According to a Ward's analysis of all available NHTSA data for 2010, Toyota Motor North America Inc. leads the industry in both campaigns initiated and total vehicles recalled for the second consecutive year.

The longtime quality leader issued 17 campaigns potentially affecting some 6.6 million vehicles. In 2009, Toyota grabbed the ignominious title for the first time by initiating nine campaigns ensnaring some 4.8 million vehicles.

The culprit at the time was ill-fitting floor mats pinning down accelerator pedals, accounting for 4.3 million of its total. In 2010, the same problem swept up 1.1 million more of its most popular models, including the Corolla/Matrix, Highlander and RAV4.

Toyota's accelerator problems have been linked to a number of deaths, including a California Highway Patrol officer and his family last year. Since the recalls began in 2009, the auto maker has revamped its quality-control checks and launched a massive public-relations program to repair its image.

Toyota officials tell Ward's the auto maker has completed 65% of repairs to the 5.6 million vehicles recalled for faulty floor mats, including 80% of the models flagged in the first recall campaign last year.

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