Toyota, another crack in the auto-manufacturing wall

Sonali Kudva

Car companies have not been in the news for the right reasons in the last two years. First the recession hit them hard, then there were concerns regarding the fuel efficiency and overall efficiency of some car manufacturers. These manufacturers, especially traditional American ones, were the ones in the hot seat.

Last week and for some time now, it is another car manufacturer, one that shows that the auto industry is in much deeper trouble than first known. Toyota’s recent recalls accentuate that problems within the auto-maker industry are more than just about the cost of the automobile, the fuel it consumes and the carbon footprint it leaves behind. No, the problem is far more basic. It is one of human safety.

This concern by the numerous people who were affected by the sudden uncontrollable acceleration of their vehicles was ignored. Some have had complaints registered since 2003, making sure that the car company has continued to manufacture still more cars with the same defect in that time.

The trust placed by the authorities in the car companies with regard to the adherence to safety regulations has been misplaced. This raises one question: Was this trust merely misplaced, or was it a blind trust, unchecked and never investigated? My guess is the latter.

Safeguards may have been ignored in a bid to sell more cars, other advantages of the manufacturers have been played up, while the problems have been ignored. As a result of this ignoring, Toyota now has had to recall at least 7 million cars all over the world, especially in the US, the UK and some parts of Europe.

So how exactly have these problems gotten so big before someone woke up to them? Complaints have been made. The New York Times published an article last week alleging that Toyota has often been known for a slow response to concerns. Well, if that is true, why didn’t the authorities make sure that consumers and customers were protected? Could this be another attempt for more votes for the vote bank? Does this reveal more cracks and corruption within the ranks of automakers?

I don’t have the answers, only more questions. Questions I hope the car manufacturers plan on answering, and questions I hope the authorities elected by myself and other members of the public get them to answer in a more accelerated fashion. After all — someone needs to put the brakes on this problem before it races out of control.

Sonali Kudva is a journalism graduate student and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].