Toyota recently announced a massive recall on its popular Sienna minivan. About 700,000 units are being recalled due to a defect that allows the sliding doors to open while the vehicle is in motion. At this point, the recall announcement does not include any information about whether or not anyone has been injured due to this defect, nor how the company learned of the issue.
The recall report specifies that the affected vehicles include model years 2011 – 2016, and, according to the report, the issue happens when the sliding door is “impeded” while operating automatically. This can cause the circuit to overload, which could lead to a failure of the door to properly latch. Recalls are part of manufacturing. Defects happen, and companies have to deal with them. How those companies deal with those issues goes a long way toward improving or impeding that brand’s public relations.
But this is always a cost-benefit evaluation. For Toyota customers, there are few imaginings as nightmarish as the thought of a van door flying open on the interstate, directly endangering the young passengers in the back seats. The first question parents want answered is “are my kids safe!” If not, how can I make them safe, and when will this happen?
Toyota jumped on the problem, effectively answering both questions. First, the recall is for all Siennas from the affected years – bring them in and get them fixed immediately. According to the report, Toyota plans to have this issue completely handled by mid-January.
That’s not exactly “immediately,” but it’s fairly quick considering the sheer numbers involved. Regardless of how large the company, 700,000 is a huge number. To manage a recall of that size properly will take a massive concerted effort by the company.
The biggest “plus” in the column for Toyota, though, is how they have, once again, properly handled a recall. The company is fast developing a reputation for fixing mistakes that are every bit as ironclad as the overall customer satisfaction and assumed quality Toyota is reputed to bring to the table.
After all, this could have been handled very differently. Toyota could have strung it out, tried to keep it quiet and dealt with the problem after major issues had created a tragedy. But, no, they jumped out and addressed the problem quickly, efficiently and, owners hope, completely.
The proof in this pudding is next January though. Will Toyota have the recalls finished in time and have their customers back on the road, safe and happy?