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Toyota Automobile Recall Inspires GM & Ford, Hydroponics Comparisons

Toyota announced a recall of vehicles to repair sticking accelerator pedals Toyota announced a recall of vehicles to repair sticking accelerator pedals

What could be scarier than driving down the highway and realizing that your gas pedal is stuck and you’re accelerating towards another car? That’s what happened with Toyota automobiles recently, and it has implications for GM, Ford, Japan and the hydroponics industry.

The big question is, when your life is on the line, can you trust a large corporation to do what’s right? In this Toyota recall situation, if the published reports are true, the answer is no.

According to reports, it was slightly more than five years ago that gas pedals on some Toyota models developed “sticking” problems that cause dangerous acceleration.

Reports say there have been more than 800 car accidents, 320 injuries and as many as 19 fatalities due to the pedal problem. Consumers and auto repair shops had been notifying Toyota about the problem for at least five years, but the automobile giant did little about it until a couple of weeks ago when it issued a massive worldwide recall of nearly 10 million vehicles.

Chalk one up to government intervention. According to Obama administration officials, Toyota probably would not have issued the recall without threats from the US government.

Toyota Admits Failing to Look at the Big Picture

Toyota Motor Corp. recalled 437,000 hybrid cars globally to fix faulty braking systems on four modelsToyota Motor Corp. recalled 437,000 hybrid cars globally to fix faulty braking systems on four modelsWhatever the reason, Toyota has now embarked on a recall and public relations campaign. They’re sending parts to Toyota repair shops, notifying consumers, and paying for fancy advertisements saying that quality and safety are what Toyota is all about.

Toyota Executive Vice President Shinichi Sasaki apologized for Toyota’s failure to conduct “reliability tests that look into how individual components perform as a whole inside the car under different environmental conditions."

Sasaki described how Toyota’s engineers couldn’t see the forest for the trees- they tested accelerator parts individually, but did not check them as a system, or under the full range humidity conditions drivers can experience.

Toyota’s proposed fix is to have dealer service shops install a metal shim that prevents the accelerator from sticking, but independent automobile technicians say this “fix” isn’t comprehensive, warning that Toyota is ignoring problems with the acceleration system’s other hardware components and its computerization.

They also note that an integrated braking system that would cost Toyota pennies per car to install has been available for a dozen years, but the auto manufacturer never installed it. This system, independent analysts say, would have prevented the crashes.

Global sales of Toyota are down as much as 50%, and in Japan the economic indicators are that Toyota’s troubles will become Japan’s troubles too.

And it’s rather creepy to note that Sasaki and many in the media seem more focused on how the gas pedal problem will affect Toyota sales and profits than on the ongoing threat to public safety posed by Toyota’s dangerous vehicles.

Capitalizing on consumer fear, GM and Ford are offering financial incentives for Toyota owners to trade in their Toyota and get a GM or Ford car instead.

Is there a “Toyota” in the Hydroponics Industry?

It’s interesting that even in the hydroponics world there are parallels with the Toyota story.

Can hydroponics gardening be a matter of life and death? Unfortunately, yes. Hydroponics gardening involves electricity, HID bulbs and ballasts, chemicals, wiring, C02 generators and other hardware that are potentially dangerous.

Not just dangerous if you use the gear incorrectly, but sometimes because the gear hasn’t been manufactured properly or the instructions aren’t clear.

Someday I’ll write an article about all the horror stories I’ve heard from growers injured when bulbs exploded (due to ballast defects), when containers of pH adjusting fluids leaked and caused skin burns, when C02 generators, lighting fixtures and electronics shorted out and caused fires, when fertilizers had the wrong amounts of the wrong ingredients in the wrong ratios, causing crop failure.

The bottom line is that the integrity of the manufacturer is as important to you when you’re buying an automobile as when you’re buying a hydroponics ballast.

Here are some ways to test the integrity of a manufacturer, hydroponics or otherwise:

  • Does the manufacturer make a personal connection with you as a consumer, via blogs, emails, and other communications?
  • Does the manufacturer have a human face- someone who you can identify with and relate to who has expertise in the field?
  • Does the manufacturer offer strong warranties that back their products’ performance, materials and workmanship?
  • Does the manufacturer do constant research and development, revising existing products to make them better & also bringing new products to the marketplace?
  • Does the manufacturer provide a way for you to ask technical questions and give feedback about their products? Do you get accurate and timely feedback?

For Toyota, most consumers would answer no to these integrity questions. As a result, GM and Ford are capitalizing on Toyota’s misfortunes. As a hydroponics grower, you too have to be careful- highways aren’t the only place accidents can happen.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 09 November 2010 20:36

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