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Automobiles "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it." – Warren Buffet The Toyota Motor Corporation, which has spent decades building its reputation for safety and reliability, has spent the latter part of last year and all of this year walking a tightrope of contrition and deniability. The safety problems associated with many of its most popular models have been very well documented, and the company has recalled many of these models for problems with brakes, sticking accelerators, floor mats, rusting frames and steering. When reports of runaway Toyotas, malfunctioning brakes and steering problems began to surface a few years ago, the company’s initial reactions attempted to transfer responsibility onto their customers. They claimed it must be user error or floor mats bunching up under gas pedals causing the problems with sticking accelerators. That pattern of denial resulted in the company president, Akio Toyoda, appearing before members of Congress recently. Now the auto giant has a public relations problem in addition to product liability problems. It must be said that product recalls happen all the time, particularly with automobiles. Ford has issued a recall for cruise control switches in various models and model years. Nissan recently recalled some models for problems with air bags. Honda has recalled minivans for a problem with brake hoses. Unless they see or hear a report in the news, most drivers don’t know that a component of their vehicles is recalled until they receive a letter from the manufacturer describing the problem and letting them know what to do to remedy it. However, Toyota has been slow to react to customer complaints, and Mr. Toyoda cited the rapid growth of his company as the primary reason for its recent quality control problems. "Quite frankly, I fear the pace at which we have grown may have been too quick," he said during more than three hours of testimony before Congress. "I regret that this has resulted in the safety issues described in the recalls we face today, and I am deeply sorry for any accidents that Toyota drivers have experienced." Mr. Toyoda claimed under oath that he became aware of the sticking accelerator problems in some of his company’s models late in 2009. He said this despite the fact that Toyota recalled nine models in 2007 to replace floor mats it said were causing sudden acceleration. He also said that there might have been communication problems between the company’s branches in North America and the company’s headquarters in Japan that slowed his company’s response to over 2,600 customer complaints to government safety regulators. The hearing took an especially tense turn when congressional investigators produced an internal Toyota Company memo. In the memo, company officials talked about their company saving hundreds of millions of dollars by convincing government highway safety regulators to initially limit the scope of the recalls. A defective product or a product that is not reasonably safe to use for its intended purpose causes product liability lawsuits. Defendants in product liability litigation often include the defective product’s manufacturer, any distributor or wholesaler of the product and the seller of the product. There are three main types of product liability lawsuits. The first type involves design defects where a product was made as intended, but a design defect rendered it inherently unsafe to use. The second type of product liability lawsuit involves manufacturing defects where the design of the product was fine, but the way the product was made rendered it unsafe to use. The third type involves failure to warn or instruct, which involves inadequate instructions and warnings about how to use the product safely. The manufacturer of any product has a responsibility to "design out" any possible or proven dangers in their products. If they cannot remedy the problems through design, they have a responsibility to guard against these dangers. If the hazards cannot be designed out or guarded against, it is incumbent upon the manufacturer to warn users, in this case drivers, and alert them of the dangers inherent in the product. Despite encouragement to do so, Mr. Toyoda did not admit at the hearing that design or engineering problems at his company have contributed to the current safety recalls. He cited his company’s rapid growth and losing touch with its customers as the source of the sudden-acceleration controversy currently tarnishing his brand. He also steadfastly defended his company’s position that the sticking accelerators and sudden acceleration problems that have led to deaths and injuries in this country were probably mechanical in nature. This has led to gas pedal replacement in at least 1.3 million Toyota automobiles as of March 2010. The Toyota models recalled for sticking and sudden acceleration feature electronic throttle systems, which have been cited as a possible cause for the problems. The Toyota Motor Company has flatly denied that these electronic systems are the source of gas pedals that can become stuck and cause a Toyota to accelerate out of control. About the Author: 相关的主题文章: