Having to deal with recalls in a global economy is not the easiest thing to do. The latest auto recalls however, coming on the demise of three quarters of the American auto industry, is one that many Americans are finding particularly hard to take. Appreciating the fact that anything we want to buy can be made anywhere in the world and that he who makes whatever that is, is doing it the cheapest way, has come to mean as of late that we loose again and again. And it is something we don’t seem to be getting used to no matter how often it happens.
Today the President and head CEO of Toyota apologized to all effected owners. To paraphrase, they said, “So sorry, will fix soon.” And of course, those whom wish GM and Chrysler were still around are having a field day rubbing it in. “How’s that Toyota working out for you now?” goes the water cooler chat. Actually, given the fact that the number of cars found defective is just less than two thousand out of fourteen million and counting, I would say they are running pretty good. Plus, if you add to this that texting and driving is still not illegal in the majority of states, I got a lot more to worry about than a stuck accelerator when tooling over to get my oil changed.
No one wants to buy a car that has problems or is a lemon or is unsafe at any speed. Remember that book title! But given their safety record and low maintenance requirements, it’s going to take a lot to pull any mass amount of customers to a different car company. But you’re dealing with Americans here. We tend to want it fixed now! And we tend to remember long after the injustice, about how the malfunctioning consumer product was corrected and forget about what was broke in the first place.
Was their delay in responding to the problem part of an internal issue? Jury is still out. For sure every company in the world, no matter whether they are painting toys for kids in China or installing O rings in space ships, is cutting every tolerance they can to get by. If that is the case with this issue, we may find ourselves the victims of our own desire to have the lowest prices. Welcome to Global Econ 101.The idea of building it extra strong is something only the most naiveté of us really believes happens anymore.
To those who are usually yelling, “ Get the government out of our face and let corporations rule their own businesses” this is of course a great time for an “I told you so”. But that kind of talk can come later, at the government hearings looking into the problem, which the company will have fixed and have long moved on from. Recalls have a long history here in the USA when it comes to automobiles. Dare say clear back to the days of a young Ralph Nader and a gas tank that was placed for convenience in the wrong place! I personally remember the Fords that all crashed with Firestone tires; now that was a scary one
But alas, for those of you who have your hopes up that this will somehow spark the American auto industry back to life, sorry. Most of the factories that produced those vehicles of old have been chopped up and sold for scrap metal; yea to Japan to build those shiny new cars now in recall. For the foreseeable future our economy is going to continue to bobble on the surface of break-even and disasters like the sole survivor of a shipwreck tossed overboard by consequences out of his control. On the bright side though, who among Toyota owners can’t see a class action suit in the making here. Harmed or not. And after all, as of late, suing is what we do better than anyone…. and if the lawyers are making money, how far away can it be for the rest of us to do the same!