By Jon Miller | Post Date: January 28, 2010 6:03 PM | Comments: 4
This does not seem like the Toyota we know. The latest recall from Toyota related to its faulty accelerator continues to expand. Toyota has stopped sales of eight major models in the U.S. and the jury is still out as to how far this will spread to sales in Japan, China, Europe and other major markets. The Wall Street Journal reported today that Toyota has a fix:
The company is calling the equipment repair a "spacer" that would be inserted into the gas pedal, increasing the tension in a spring and helping to prevent the accelerator from sticking in position.
For the non-technical person, a spacer is a an inexpensive piece of flat metal, rubber, plastic, fiber or other material used to fill a gap or change spacing between two parts of a mechanical system. Although admirable in its simplicity, the spacer as a solution seems more like a band-aid than a root cause countermeasure in this case.
We've reported before on the cost of Toyota's run to become number one is global vehicle sales, particularly in the area of recalls, and speculated about the erosion in quality at Toyota over the past few years as evidenced by unusually high level of recalls. In order to gain some perspective, I spoke with Chris Schrandt, one of our senior consultants who spent 10 years at Georgetown as the Quality Engineering Manager for Toyota.
What kind of conversations are going on right now at Toyota?
What is the nearest comparable thing you saw when you were there?
We never saw anything this big. My former boss who started up the San Antonio plant had some pretty big drive shaft issues they found pretty late in the game. That was about 5 years ago. We never had to recall anything from the Georgetown plant. Maybe we had to get the dealer to look at a couple of hundred vehicles, but that was it. Unless it was a safety issue, it used to take an act of God to get the quality VP to send out a warranty notice to the dealers to look at something, so the scale of this is incredible.
What makes you say it's not a mechanical issue, as their spacer solution seems to imply?
What would you be doing if you were at Toyota right now?
I've never seen anything like this before. I can't imagine shutting down Georgetown for any reason. We never went into an emergency shut down while I was there. Sure we slowed down when sales were slow. If Toyota had a fix, every new vehicle would have the correct part. They would have jumbo jets flying around the world to keep the plants running. Was it their intention to idle the plants to free up the workers to help out at the dealerships? Even that's inconceivable. It sounds like they really don't have a root cause countermeasure.
You brought up an interesting point. Some say that Toyota are being opportunistic, using this quality problem as an excuse to idle their plants on purpose to cut operating costs while demand is down and dealer inventories are up. What do you think?
Thanks for your time Chris. Do you have any closing thoughts?
The magnitude of this problem is historic. Toyota always errors on the side of safety and quality. People have lost their lives due to this defect. I am sure that the leadership at Toyota is working tirelessly to get to the root cause and correct all of the problems as quickly and efficiently as possible.Comments are moderated to filter spam and inappropriate content. There may be a delay before your comment is published.