IN THE NEWS A SPIRITUAL PERSPECTIVE

Recalls: Learning from corporate mistakes

Automotive recalls are hardly breaking news. As with other product safety recalls, they happen routinely when a company or government is alerted by consumer complaints about a potentially dangerous product error. While about 16 million vehicles were recalled last year, the vehicle manufacturer with the most cars recalled in 2009 was, up until recently, surprising: Toyota. Because the company has been known for its leadership in both quality and manufacturing, a widespread recall of Toyota and Lexus models at the close of 2009 and the beginning of 2010 has received significant attention around the world.

An investigation in 2009 by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) resulted in the recall of more than 8.5 million vehicles over eight model lines. It principally involved complaints that the gas pedal would suddenly stick or surge, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle. Called "unintended acceleration," this problem has occurred in several vehicles (not just Toyotas) equipped with electronic throttle control and could be linked to outside interference with vehicle electronics. Far more Toyota vehicles have been affected, though, creating a new round of challenges for yet another major player in the automotive industry. While there have been attempts to assign fault, this new difficulty in a vital global industry should serve as a call to prayer more than to criticism.

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