The Jan. 28 announcement that Toyota was suspending sales of eight models because of allegations of unintended acceleration was the beginning of a nightmare year for the world's No. 1 carmaker. The painful blow to the company's reputation for safety and quality could be seen on the faces of Toyota executives.
Toyota in crisis
Toyota dealers scrambled to deal with 2.3 million vehicles recalled to fix a sticky accelerator pedal. Jim Wade, a technician at Roseville Toyota in Sacramento, Calif., modifies an accelerator assembly. Some dealers stayed open 24 hours to speed the repair work.
At the unveiling of the 2011 Toyota Avalon at the Chicago Auto Show in February, reporters were more interested in talking about the unfolding recall crisis. Toyota Division General Manager Bob Carter found himself virtually pinned against the door of the car with microphones and camera lenses thrust in his face.
With the crisis at its peak, security forces patrolled Toyota's make meeting at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Orlando in February. Rumors flew that angry dealers planned to disrupt the session. A member of the Orange County Sheriff's Office watches as participants enter the meeting, which was not as contentious as some dealers had expected.
Lost in the swirl of recall publicity in February was that Toyota showrooms still had cars that were available for sale.
Under Capitol Hill questioning in February, Jim Lentz, COO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., attempted to explain why Toyota had responded slowly to reports of unintended acceleration. He said: "We did not do a good job of sharing information around the globe."
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.