Toyota recall underlines the importance of systems integrity, says Evershed’s Matthews

Commenting on news that Toyota is recalling 1.9 million of its top-selling Prius hybrid cars because of a software fault, Richard Matthews, head of product liability at Eversheds, said: ‘For any manufacturer, undertaking a consumer recall is a major step — the direct costs of contacting vehicle owners, disseminating information through dealer networks and informing regulatory authorities around the world are substantial.’

Although Matthews stresses that vehicle recalls are not an uncommon occurrence, indeed 15.5 million vehicles are recalled each year in the US, he believes that this new recall by Toyota is once again undermining the firm’s image.

He said: ‘Each announcement puts another dent in Toyota’s efforts to recover its reputation and resurrects questions about the impact of its strategy of rapid expansion on previously enviable standards of design and production quality.

‘Toyota has acknowledged that the software error could potentially result in the vehicle shutting down and stopping while being driven — a point that underlines the critical importance for manufacturers of ensuring the integrity of increasingly complex electronic systems on which their products depend. No doubt serious questions are being asked within Toyota… as to how further safety risks have slipped through the net.’