Vietnam mulls fining Toyota over technical faults

May 13, 2011 | 14:00
After Toyota Vietnam has recalled nearly 66,000 cars suffering from technical faults recently, a senior official said the actual number could be much higher and that Vietnamese authorities are considering fining the Japanese carmaker.


The number of Toyota cars with technical problems in Vietnam must be higher than the 65,703 figure that Toyota Vietnam officially announced, a senior official from Vietnam Register, a government agency responsible for vehicles’ safety, told Nguoi Lao Dong Wednesday.

This official said the Japanese factory in Vietnam has sustained a certain fault in the assembly line so many more vehicles must have been affected.

“We are waiting for Toyota Vietnam to report on the number of faulty cars, then we will decide whether to fine the company or not”, this official wishing to remain anonymous said.

Under current regulations, car makers only have to record documents related to a car within three years of its manufacturing so Toyota Vietnam only keeps documents for cars made from 2008, according to Nguoi Lao Dong. This means it could be difficult to determine the actual number of faulty cars.

On April 15, Toyota Vietnam officially offered an apology and released a recall plan on 65,703 cars that were manufactured in Vietnam, the biggest ever in the country.

The recall revolves around Innova and Fortuner vehicles that suffer three technical problems (oil pressure at the rear wheel being higher than standard, bolt No 8 that used under rear seat and camber bolts beyond standard).

The company earlier had announced a recall on 278 Camry cars.

The carmaker has now reduced manufacturing down by 70% from April 25 to June 3, 2011. It cited a shortage of spare parts after the quake disaster in Japan as the reason.

Earlier, Le Van Tach, a Toyota engineer that had exposed flaws leading to the massive recall, told the press that he had many times told Toyota leaders about the technical flaws but was paid no heed and was even threatened.

“I understand that Toyota Vietnam is a big enterprise, with a brand name and is trusted by many consumers. But the way it acted is surprising due to its shying away from responsibility and announcing false information”, the whistle-blowing engineer said during a ceremony on 26 April.

The ceremony was held to bestow on him the “Responsibility Prize” from the Center for Research on Communication Development under Hanoi-based Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Association.

“They initially said only 8,830 vehicles [actual number is over 65,000] suffered from technical faults and announced the flaws would not affect quality”.

“After contacting the press and Vietnam Register [agency responsible for vehicles’ safety], I have more belief and continue to fight for consumers’ rights”, he added.

Toyota Vietnam never uses the word “recall” in all announcements. Instead, it is a "programme to fix cars free of charge".


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