Toyota Halts Sales

January 27th, 2010 by Potato

Holy crap, they’re actually halting sales of basically all their top models.

I’ve been trying to follow along with the Toyota accelerator pedal issue especially since I’m planning on getting a Prius soon, but I haven’t seen much solid information so far. Some cars have accelerated out of control, with one case leading to the death of four people. The stuck accelerator was blamed on human error or improper floormats which could hold the pedal down (which is basically a roundabout way of saying a combination of a pedal that’s too close to the floor, and… driver error). It was assumed that people were too panicked or didn’t have the driving skills to use their toe to pry the pedal back up when this happened… until it was a cop that was killed in a runaway Lexus. However, unless I missed a critical report along the way, they still haven’t found a mechanical or computer problem to explain the runaway behaviour, or why the braking system didn’t overpower the engine to stop the car anyway.

Out of the millions of cars Toyota has on the road, this has only happened to a few dozen — and even then, they can’t seem to agree on whether or not the problem affects the Prius (which is not under this latest stop-sale order).

Here’s the FAQ from Toyota on the latest recall.

So for me, I wonder if this might be an opportunity to get a Prius cheaper than if I waited a little longer. I’m reasonably certain that this is the last winter I’ll keep my Accord for, though it has been quite well-behaved for the last two months, even in the cold. However, it would be a bit of a shock to our finances to get a car immediately after moving, and a good couple of months before we had otherwise planned to. I’m not sure the extra ~$100-200 off would be worth it. What do you think? Will this lead to a big fire sale at Toyota? Will dealerships be deserted in the next few weeks as Toyota becomes a pariah? Or the opposite: will the Prius go out of stock as it becomes the only mid-size car Toyota is still selling?

I’m not too concerned about the accelerator issues: if it does turn out to affect the Prius, the odds seem to be in my favour, and Toyota will probably fix it not too far down the road in a recall.

2 Responses to “Toyota Halts Sales”

  1. Michael James Says:

    I remember when Audis seemed to have a sudden acceleration problem. It must be very difficult to determine what really happened. If someone really did just panic and accelerate into people and kill them, that driver would desperately need to believe that the car failed rather than he planted his foot on the wrong pedal. On the other hand, it’s easy for a car company to cover up such a problem by saying that it was driver error each time.

  2. Potato Says:

    Yes, and it’s also very difficult when it’s a rare problem — if a design defect lead to premature wear which lead to the problem as opposed to a direct design defect (i.e., if more steps of bad luck need to happen before the problem occurs), then it can be very difficult to reproduce the problem. The unfortunate reality is that for many companies they will stick to the user error explanation until they can reproduce the problem and only then lay the blame on something else.