What Quality Problem? Toyota (TM) Recalls 470,000 Vehicles

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Recently, the signs on the road have looked bad for Toyota (TM). The last Consumer Reports survey of vehicle reliability dropped the biggest Japanese car company to third place after it had the front seat for years. And, the company’s shares are trading near a 52-week low, perhaps because UAW contracts promise to make GM (GM) and Ford (F) more financially competitive.

Now, Toyota has recalled 470,000 vehicles in its home market of Japan. According to the FT, it is the company’s fifth recall this year. The latest recall is for various models, including the Crown luxury sedan, made in Japan between September 1999 and October 2004, and the specific problems include fuel pumps, fuel control and steering, according to Reuters.

It may be that Toyota has grown so fast that it no longer has a good handle on its well-known quality control systems. As the company expands into new plants to cover new markets, the number of managers with the background to move Toyota’s systems into new locations has to be stretched.

And, it is paying the price.

Douglas A. McIntyre