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Toyota Accelerator Pedal Recall: A Case Study

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Toyota Accelerator Pedal Recall: A Case Study

Table of Contents

I. The Problem        3

1. Summary of the Facts / Justification of the Problem        3

2. Alternative Solutions        4

3. Evaluation of the Alternatives        4

4. Recommendations        5

II. Conclusion        5

III. References        7


  1. The Problem

In early 2010, Toyota had to recall 2.3 million vehicles in the Unites States and an estimated nine million vehicles world wide.          This was due to a faulty accelerator pedal which in some cases, cause the vehicle accelerator pedal to stick resulting in unintended acceleration Bigus, P., & Seijts, J. (2011).  

The recall was already made public however Toyota needed to make a statement to their customers, future and present.  The feedback from this communication was less than favorable.

  1. Summary of the Facts / Justification of the Problem

On January 21, 2010 Toyota had to do a massive recall of approximately 2.3 million vehicles for faulty accelerators in the United States and approximately 9 million globally.  The accelerators would get stuck or be slow to release causing the vehicles to keep accelerating after the customer had taken their foot off the pedal.  Due to this issue, on February 2, 2010 Toyota’s Chief Operating Officer made a statement to the public regarding the vehicle recall.  

The letter opened by stated their years in business, and then applied an apology for the concern the recalls had applied and the recall itself.   There was no apology for the malfunction of the vehicles.  They then stated they knew what the issue was and had resolved it and would be implementing the fix within the dealerships and that they were contacting customers to make appointments to get their vehicles fixed.  There was then a focus on the fact that they are shutting production down.  Then ended the letter by stating that their customers safety is their highest priority and they were continuing to do everything they could Bigus, P., & Seijts, J. (2011).  

  1. Alternative Solutions

There are several things that Toyota could have done better with their letter.  The first would be to not open with history of the company.  This would come off to the readers that this is about them and not their customers.  They also needed to take ownership of the issue.  Toyota did apologize however, they apologized for the situation, there was no apology for the problems that were caused by their vehicle's defects.  They also needed to make the letter more about their customers and less about them.  There was a focus on the letter regarding how they had shut down production at great cost to themselves.  For their customers, this is little consequence to them and would make Toyota seem like they do not care about what their customers are going through.  Toyota also did not talk about how they were going to ensure this doesn’t happen again.  Customers need to feel safe in their vehicles and confident that the company they are buying from are selling a quality product.  When it came to the details of the issue, Toyota did not provide any.  This would leave customers questioning what happened, if it could happen to them and how to tell if their vehicle was having that issue.  Toyota also, should have put their history at the end of the letter.  

  1. Evaluation of the Alternatives

One of the big changes they could make to the letter would be to close with the company history instead of opening with it.  This would show to put the company after the customer and would show to the customer that they come first.  Of course you want to go over the company history and their good standing in quality and customer satisfaction, but putting that idea first only made the letter seem to be about them.  

The second item they should really change is to take ownership of the issue.  There are some disadvantages to this as taking ownership is admitting that you are wrong and could open them up for civil lawsuit, however not taking ownership and control of the situation makes it look like they are trying to pass the buck.  No matter if it was a vendor that Toyota uses, they are the ones that are selling the car and therefore need to be held responsible.  

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