Saturday, January 30, 2010

Toyota Cars Recalled: Because of Made-in-America Parts

"Motorists Alarmed by Japanese Car Recalls, Except in Japan"
FOXNews (January 30, 2010)

"American Toyota owners are understandably alarmed about ballooning recalls over faulty gas pedals and floor mats. In Japan, the automaker's home market, where there have been no such recalls, the reaction is — also understandably — muted.

"Some of the same Toyota Motor Corp. models recalled in the U.S., Europe and China are on Japanese roads. But they use a different parts supplier than CTS Corp., the American parts-maker which has been rushing to fix the faulty parts behind the massive recalls.

"Dealers in the U.S. are being deluged with queries from worried customers. For dealers in Japan, it's basically business as usual...."

Along with probably most people in the English-speaking world, I'd heard about the Toyota recall. This article is a pretty good backgrounder on what's involved. And why Japanese Toyota owners and dealers aren't all that concerned.

Except in a neighborly way:

"...'Some of our customers express sympathy about Toyota's overseas problems,' Naeko Kawamata, a saleswoman at a Tokyo Toyota dealer, said Saturday. 'But we aren't getting queries on recalls.'..."

"Proudly Made in the USA"?!

If you live in America, you may have seen those stickers on products: saying something like "Proudly Made in the USA" - and seen "Buy American" posters or bumper stickers.

I don't have a real problem with that: I think it's good for a person to be proud of his or her work. At least, in the sense of having a sense of satisfaction from making something that's practical, durable, and doesn't cause automobile accidents.

Too bad CTS Corporation's American-made products had to be recalled.

Quality Control: Not a Bad Idea, Actually

Toyota has had a reputation for really tight quality control. Reputation's a fine thing: but it needs to be maintained. From that article, again:

"...They see Toyota's troubles as having crept up because the automaker expanded too quickly over the last several years, making it difficult to duplicate the 'Toyota Way,' known for impeccable quality controls, in places that are quite different from Japan.

" 'Toyota appears to be trying to respond with care,' said Hideaki Miyajima, a professor of business and economics at Tokyo's Waseda University.

" 'Toyota has grown to where it is now by sticking to safety standards. If it can overcome this problem, it can even make the experience a plus for its future.'..."

"Buy American!"

I remember, quite a few decade back, when Japanese automobile makers had started marketing their products here in America. American manufacturers were none too pleased: and neither were the people who worked on the assembly lines. Naturally enough.

One observer had the temerity to report on what he saw in a parking lot. At one of the plants where workers weren't happy about people not buying the cars they made, the employee parking lot was mostly filled with cars made by Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi - - -.

The point is: it you won't buy what you make, it's time to take a long, hard look at what you're making.

At Least America Has Company

It's been a few years since China's export problems were a recurring news item. Remember toxic pet food, toothpaste, seafood, cough syrup and toys? It was no joke: some people died.

My take on that situation is that some Chinese manufacturers, dealing with a new economic climate, are on a voyage of discovery in which they will discover that it's a bad idea to poison the end user. Or, in the case of Made-in-China exploding tear gas, embarrass your customer.

The survivors, anyway. The Chinese government took a really dim view of those shoddy products being sold. A disturbing number of the managers and executives involved committed suicide, as I recall. That's the official story, anyway.

Poisoned Peanut Products and Infected Sanitizers

Take a look through the "Not-quite-related posts" link list at the end of this post: there's been no dearth of major product recalls in the last few years.

It's not all bad news, though.

First of all: Those recalls are success stories, in their own way. They're cases where dangerous products were found, traced to their source, and pulled from the market. Sure, the Peanut Corporation of America shouldn't have mixed rat droppings and peanuts in the first place, and shouldn't have tried to cover up the problem. (Haven't people learned anything from Watergate?!) But the poison peanut products were found and pulled from the shelves.

And, eventually, Americans in general twigged that not all peanut products would kill them.

Secondly: Some folks have been smart.

My two examples are both from China. One's an effort to save a fading textile-making art - by creating a market for it. The other's the Chinese Shanghai Maglev.

America's role in the latter? After more than four decades, this country's getting around to considering building high-speed trains.

Well, better late than never.

Not-quite-related posts:

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