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Toyota recall highlights ‘complexities’ of modern supply chains

The recall of vehicles by Japanese carmaker Toyota over a number of issues has highlighted the “complexities” facing motor manufacturers internationally, according to an industry expert.

Toyota has recalled vehicles worldwide over faulty brake installations and fuel component issues and a further batch of vehicles over a faulty fuel delivery pipe system.

Andrew Masterson, a recalls expert at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: “This is a further example of the ongoing raft of recall activity across most of the major motor manufacturers.”

Masterson said: “In part it is a function of the large number of systems and components in modern vehicles, but equally of the complexity of supply chains today. Each recall is a multi-million pound exercise and can run into billions. A simple sub-component issue can cause major loss. But the diversified supply base, short development cycles and dependence on rafts of sub-suppliers, mean that these kinds of issues are not going to disappear from the industry anytime soon.”

On 15 October, Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc announced plans to conduct a voluntary safety recall of approximately 423,000 Lexus vehicles where delivery pipes in the engine compartment were manufactured with a plating to protect against corrosion.

Toyota said some of the pipes “could have been produced with plating particles on the gasket seating surface where the fuel pressure sensor is installed…In this condition, the sealing property of the gasket seated between the pressure sensor and the pipe could become degraded,” Toyota said. “During vehicle operation, fuel could leak past the gasket. In the presence of an ignition source, this could increase the risk of a vehicle fire.”

Toyota also recalled models over faulty brake installations. Toyota told the BBC that approximately 802,000 vehicles globally had a faulty brake system, which could crack and result in the brake fluid leaking. The company said it would replace a rubber seal ring in the brake master cylinder to prevent brake fluid from leaking. If brake fluid had already leaked, the brake booster would be replaced.

In a separate announcement, Toyota said cumulative European production reached nine million vehicles this month, while investments to date in Europe have exceeded €8 billion.

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