TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Bill Radke: Toyota says it is recalling about 270,000 of the vehicles it has sold worldwide. The cars and trucks are said to have engine problems that could cause them to stall. Marketplace’s Jeremy Hobson joins us now live from New York with more. Jeremy, which vehicles are we talking about this time?
Jeremy Hobson: Bill, we’re talking about seven Lexus models. Now to be clear, Toyota says no accidents have been linked to this issue, though it has received hundreds of customer complaints.
And of course it’s another PR blow for Toyota, which had to recall some 8 million vehicles because of that accelerator issue. Now in this case we’re talking about, as you said, 270,000 vehicles. But a third of those were sold in Japan.
Radke: Now Jeremy, it sounds like this is not as serious as those sudden accelerator problems. So is this just Toyota being extra careful?
Hobson: Yeah absolutely, going the extra mile, and especially with the Lexus brand. This is Toyota’s luxury brand, and Peter Wells, who directs the Center for Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff University in the U.K., says for Toyota, maintaining Lexus’s reputation is absolutely vital:
Peter Wells: Lexus did a fantastic job for Toyota in terms of carving out competition against the likes of Mercedes and BMW, Audi, you know the prestige brands that consumers would aspire to. Toyota does not want to have that brand tarnished now, and it’s extremely unfortunate for the company.
And Wells says it’s impossible for any car company to avoid problems like this, but he says Toyota will have to work harder than its competitors to assure customers that its vehicles are safe, especially given all the problems we’ve heard so much about.
Radke: Marketplace’s Jeremy Hobson. Jeremy, thank you.
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