Toyota Moves Fast With Latest Recall, But Fumbles Initial Response

Toyota bounced back in 2012 after its recall problems in 2009 and 2010 and the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami—sales were up 41% in September over a year earlier, according to CBS News. 

Perhaps that's why Toyota executives were "unfazed" Thursday by the overnight voluntary recall of 7.43 million vehicles over faulty power window switches that can cause fires. The Associated Press said this was a sign the Japanese company had learned from its mistakes and was becoming quicker about recalls and more transparent. 

Sadly, Toyota's PR staff had already bumbled its handling of the recall. Toyota initially said the window switch problem responsible for the recall hadn't caused any injuries, but documents filed by U.S. safety regulators showed customers reported 161 fires and nine injuries, according to AP. There have been no crashes or deaths.

Toyota spokesman Keisuke Kirimoto said the public relations division at headquarters that dealt with the recall announcement was not aware of the nine injuries reported at the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It was an embarrassing but honest error, he said, according to AP. 

Factual or not, pointing out that there had been no injuries is not exactly a brand-building message. Such a posture projects defensiveness and, in this case, led to a secondary recall—this time of a PR statement. 

Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg

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