The last week has seen announcements of major product recalls by both Honda and Toyota. In the case of Honda, there have been a small number of cases of the window switch in the driver’s door of their CR-V model overheating with the potential to catch fire. This is clearly a safety issue and it is perfectly understandable that the company is recalling 500 000 vehicles worldwide for repairs.
The rationale behind the much larger recall (over 7m cars worldwide) of various Toyota models is less clear though. Once again the problem concerns the window switch, but the car-maker has stressed that there have been no accidents or injuries and the problem is believed to be simply that the switch can stick. Is it sensible to conduct such a massive recall, with all the attendant negative publicity, for such a minor problem?
One possible explanation for the response is that, having been much criticised for reacting so slowly to previous problems, Toyota feels that it now has to be seen to react promptly to even the most minor issue. The problem is though that, rather than reassuring people, this latest recall serves mainly as a reminder of Toyota’s previous quality problems.