Toyota Vietnam technical flaws spark public outrage

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Toyota Vietnam drew broad public criticism after it refused to recall nearly 9,000 cars that it admitted to have technical flaws.

Meanwhile, a company engineer who helped expose the flaws to local authorities told Thanh Nien that there must be more faulty cars on the market.

Toyota Vietnam on Friday admitted that nearly 9,000 Innova model cars suffered from technical flaws, but said a recall would not be necessary.

Officials from the company, including Production Manager Tadashi Yoshida, said around 8,830 of the cars may have problems with their brake systems, screws or their seats.

Some 200 cars, for instance, may have been released to the market with braking systems that are more responsive than usual.

Toyota Vietnam announced that the cars would not be recalled. They described the technical flaws as minor and alleged that they would not affect driver safety. The company also said they had yet to receive a customer complaint about the problems.

Many readers called or wrote to Thanh Nien on Saturday, calling for an immediate recall of the vehicles. Many alleged that the company did not respect Vietnamese consumers.

"Does it mean that the safety of the Vietnamese people is not a matter of concern to Toyota Vietnam? They know (about the flaws) but they've decided to ignore everything," an email reads.

"Mr. Yoshida said there would be no recall because there have been no complaints. So, does that mean he wants to wait for complaints and accidents to happen and then recall the cars or what?" another reader in Ho Chi Minh City asked.

The case came to public attention after engineer Le Van Tach submitted documents to the Vietnam Register, a quality control agency, demonstrating three major problems with the company's Innova and Fortuner models.

Tach, who is still employed by Toyota Vietnam, said he has been telling company managers about the problems for years. He claimed no one heeded his concerns. Tach further alleged that the cars made in Vietnam face balance issues since their screws are not tightened in accordance with directives issued by the Japanese parent company.

He pointed out that the brake systems and seats do not meet Toyota's safety standards, either.

In an interview with Thanh Nien, on Saturday, the engineer praised Toyota Vietnam's officials for their acknowledgment of the flaws. But Tach said he was "disappointed" because the officials withheld information and even gave out wrong information.

The engineer said around 60,000 flawed vehicles had been sold by the company. As these cars were made on the same production line, it's impossible that only some cars had the flaws while others did not, he said.

Tach also objected to the decision to treat the flaws lightly and not to recall the cars, calling it "absurd."

"When a car is made, the designers create standards that every single product must meet," he said.

Toyota is the largest carmaker in Vietnam. It sold 2,223 units in February. Innova, in particular, is a popular model in the country, used widely by many taxi companies.

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