TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. managers cite several reasons for the rise in recalls:
- Greater use of electronics in increasingly complex cars.
- Higher production overall, which means a defect is on more vehicles.
- An inclination to follow stricter U.S. standards for recalls, rather than looser Japanese standards.
- In Japan, a trend toward keeping vehicles longer. In the past, an 8-year-old Toyota might have been exported to Africa before problems developed. Today, it is still in Japan.
- More sharing of parts across platforms and vehicle lines. Engineers can speed product development by using parts from one nameplate on another. But that raises the risk that a yet-unknown, long-term durability problem will reach more customers.
Two other factors also are at work, although Toyota officials didn't mention them.
1. Japan outlawed so-called secret recalls more than a decade ago. Official recalls by all automakers have climbed since.
2. Japanese carmakers have learned from the bitter experience of Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Its sales collapsed after revelations in July 2000 that the carmaker had hidden defects that might have led to recalls for more than 20 years.
Six years later, sales still haven't recovered to pre-scandal levels.
You may e-mail James B. Treece at [email protected]