Toyota has issued a critical advisory urging owners of 50,000 older vehicles in the United States to promptly address potential airbag dangers, cautioning that defective Takata airbag inflators pose a grave risk of explosion, potentially resulting in fatalities.
The advisory, labelled “Do Not Drive,” encompasses Toyota’s models from 2003 to 2005, including the Corolla, Corolla Matrix, and RAV4. The alarming warning stems from concerns that airbag deployment could trigger the rupture of internal components, projecting hazardous metal fragments capable of inflicting severe injuries or fatalities on occupants.
The recall underscores the enduring repercussions of Takata’s faulty airbag inflators, which have sparked the largest automotive safety recall in history. Over 100 million products across more than 20 automakers have been affected by defective inflators, linked to over 30 fatalities since 2009. Takata filed for bankruptcy in 2017 following years of recalls, lawsuits, and a criminal probe.
Beyond the airbag crisis, Toyota has grappled with additional challenges. Recent revelations have compelled the Japanese automaker to suspend shipments of certain vehicles due to irregularities detected in certification tests for diesel engines developed by Toyota Industries. Investigations unveiled that Toyota Industries personnel manipulated horsepower output assessments, affecting engines utilised in ten globally distributed models, including the Hiace van and Land Cruiser SUV.
Moreover, Toyota confronts the fallout of misconduct at Daihatsu, a subsidiary specialising in small cars. Daihatsu acknowledged falsifying safety tests spanning over three decades, prompting government raids and the suspension of global vehicle shipments. President Koji Sato conceded organisational lapses and acknowledged pressures within the intensely competitive automotive sector.
Amidst these challenges, Toyota celebrated record-breaking sales, surpassing 11.2 million vehicles in 2023, solidifying its position as the world’s leading carmaker for the fourth consecutive year. Despite facing scrutiny and internal reforms, Toyota remains at the forefront of global automotive sales, outpacing competitors like Volkswagen, which sold 9.2 million vehicles last year.