Toyota Reveals Stalling Issue Affecting 1.2 Millon Vehicles
Toyota says that the stalling problem could involve 1.19 million Corolla and Matrix models from the 2005, 2006 and 2007 model years. But it has has not said it will recall the cars, which would add to the company's image as a firm that does not put safety ahead of profit. Toyota has been trying hard to change its image from a mass producer of vehicles to a corporation that will lower its sales targets in the name of the quality and safety. If the Corollas and Matrix models only have a potential problem, why would Toyota risk another round of criticism?
The news may also reflect poorly on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which many members of Congress have criticized for being asleep at the wheel as the number of complaints about defects in Toyota vehicles rose. The latest problem with Toyota Corollas and Matrix vehicles will raise the question again. The stalling question was first brought to its attention in 2006.
No matter what the outcome of the Toyota revelation and whether the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration forces the Japanese company to recall the 1.2 million cars, the world's largest car company's image will take another hit, just as it appears that its March sales were rebounding from low levels in February. How much damage can a brand take before the consumer abandons it en masse?