I’m sorry for the diversionary post here, but the current story with Toyota is a fairly big one and I’m not sure that Toyota owners in Australia are being treated fairly with respect to the situation and it’s importance for Australian consumers.
This effects me because we have a Toyota work vehicle, my stepdaughter owns a Corolla, one of my colleagues, below, owns a current-generation Camry and I’ve got numerous other friends and relatives (Mother and Sister) who drive Toyotas.
Toyota are the biggest fish in a small pond here in Australia. But that small pond doesn’t mean that they should be able to answer legitimate questions with soggy answers.
One of my colleagues has a 2006 Toyota Camry and whilst that puts his car one year prior to Camrys being recalled over in the United States, he was still anxious enough to contact his local dealer about it.
Here’s the response he received:
Please see that attached bulletin from Toyota Australia relating to the accelerator issue in the USA – this has no impact on vehicles in Australia.
Sure enough, there was a PDF attached to the email and that PDF contained the following in a Q&A section:
Q1: Are Australian sold vehicles affected?
A1: No, the supplier of accelerator pedals that are fitted to vehicles for the Australian market is a different supplier to that used for North American production vehicles.
That’s all fine and dandy, but the problem isn’t necessarily a supplier problem, as those following the issue in the United States will know. It appears to be a design issue.
In fact, Toyota’s own response in the United States has not been to use new supplier and get a few million pedal assemblies manufactured at a new plant for installation into effected vehicles.
Their response is to provide a cut steel plate that dealer service staff will install into the pedal assembly that will “reduce the surface tension between the friction shoe and the adjoining surface. With this reinforcement in place, the excess friction that can cause the pedal to stick is eliminated.”
I wasn’t happy with the initial response that my colleague received as it danced around the design problem and blamed the issue on a supplier.
So I sent off an email to the dealer myself, which he bounced up to Toyota Australia staff. My colleague also forwarded the same email to his dealer, separate from me.
With respect to the release you’ve received, it’s understood that the supplier is different from the supplier used in US vehicles.
But is the design of the pedal the same, or is it different as well?
Information that I’ve seen from the US indicates that the problem may be with a pivot pin and bushing in the pedal mechanism, where grit is able to get into the bushing, causing the sticking problem and premature wearing of the bushing. That would indicate a design flaw rather than a manufacturing problem, making the place of manufacture less relevant.
Can you please comment on this, or pass this question on to someone who can?
The response we both received from Toyota Australia – an exact replica to the word – was as follows:
Thank you for contacting Toyota Motor Corporation Australia.
We understand the expectation that our customers have of their Toyota as well as the National Dealer Network and we apologise for the disappointment you have expressed.
We wish to reassure you that Toyota is committed to delivering a high quality product to our customers at all times.
Toyota Australia advises that Toyota vehicles it sells in Australia are not affected by the accelerator pedal recalls announced overseas. Accelerator pedals for Toyota vehicles sold in Australia, and those manufactured in Australia for export, are provided by a different supplier.
Thank you for contacting Toyota and giving us the opportunity to respond.
Customer Experience Consultant
Customer Experience Centre
Toyota Motor Corporation Australia
As you can see, this response does nothing but quote the same supplier-related stance as received in the first instance from the dealership.
Toyota are concerned enough about US vehicles (and now selected models in Europe and China, too) to issue a recall and physically alter the pedal assembly itself.
If the same action is required in Australia, then why not do it?
If this is not necessary in Australia, then why not state the full reason?
Pinning this on a different supplier doesn’t explain the inherent design fault that’s being addressed in other markets. It’s reasonable to assume that the same pedal design is used globally, so why don’t we need to have ours checked?
Do we need an unintended acceleration incident on the Sydney Harbour Bridge to get Toyota’s attention?