In what seems like a déjà vu scenario, Toyota, the automotive giant, has once again grabbed headlines, but for reasons they’d rather avoid. In a sweeping move, Toyota has issued a recall for a staggering 1.12 million vehicles across various coveted models including Avalon, Corolla, Lexus ES250, ES350, ES300H, Camry, RAV4, Sienna Hybrid, RX350 Highlander, and others. The culprit? A potential flaw in airbag deployment.
The heart of the issue lies in the Occupant Classification System (OCS) sensors. These high-tech components play a crucial role in distinguishing between passengers, discerning adults from children or inanimate objects. The technology is designed to smartly decide when to deploy airbags, a critical safety feature. However, a suspected short circuit in these sensors, predominantly in models from 2020 to 2022, has raised red flags.
The implications are significant. Faulty sensors could misjudge the occupant, leading to inappropriate airbag deployment – or worse, not deploying when needed. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, Toyota has committed to replacing the airbags free of charge for affected vehicles, with notifications expected by February 2024.
Yet, this isn’t Toyota’s first tango with recalls. Flashback to 2022, and we find Toyota recalling around 3,500 U.S. RAV4 vehicles for similar OCS sensor issues. It seems the road to perfection is a bumpy one for this automotive stalwart.
The ripple effect of Toyota’s troubles extends to Daihatsu Motor, its small-car subsidiary, now halting shipments amidst safety concerns. This decision impacts an eye-watering 64 models and about 88,000 small cars. The genesis of this decision? A suspect side-collision safety test, potentially tampered with, as unearthed by Japan’s transport ministry. The consequences for Daihatsu could be as severe as a production certificate ban, depending on the investigation’s outcome.
Yoshimasa Hayashi, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, didn’t mince words: “This is an extremely regrettable case that undermines the trust of automobile users… a misconduct that affects the very foundation of the automobile certification system.”
The financial implications are vast. While Toyota and Daihatsu might weather the financial storm, the real worry circles around the 8,316 companies in Daihatsu’s supply chain. The industry is watching closely, as are rivals like Suzuki, who might find this an opportune moment to steal the spotlight, particularly if they fare better in safety tests.
In a gesture of solidarity, Daihatsu is exploring financial support options for its suppliers, aiming to cushion the blow until vehicle shipments resume.