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The dangers of a global car

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The dangers of a global car

Keith Crain

Automotive News -- March 1, 2010 - 12:01 am ET

I'm not going to bother with who's at fault for all the problems facing Toyota today, not only in the United States but around the world. Obviously, this has been haunting Toyota for quite some time, and there are now enough folks fighting over who is responsible.

But what we also are seeing with the Toyota problems is another risk that seems to have been ignored during our rush to globalization.

Formerly, when there was a problem, whether it caused a recall or not, it was localized to an area or even a single model line from a manufacturer.

But today, everyone realizes cost savings from global platforms and the use of global suppliers. There are cost advantages from both -- until, that is, something goes wrong.

When that happens, the problem is multiplied by tens or hundreds, and the costs and the damage skyrocket. What once would have been a small, local problem is now a global problem with huge cost implications.

Globalization isn't going away. We're going to see more and more global platforms and single-source suppliers to save money. We are probably going to see more multicontinent defects or recalls in the future.

Another great risk -- even greater as the global concept expands -- is in shortening the testing cycle. In a rush to keep costs as low as possible, it is tempting to shorten the preproduction cycle to get products to market as soon as possible.

Years ago, one manufacturer used to say it let the warranty folks sort out the problems. No one has been able to do that for many decades.

With the increased use of computer controls for safety-related systems, it will probably become more important to increase testing time, not shorten it.

Although we have used computers for controls for quite some time, using a computer to control heating and air conditioning is quite different from using computers for acceleration and, say, cruise control. The computer, a godsend to the industry, may also become its biggest threat with more and more systems under computer control.

With bigness come larger risks. As long as those risks are known, they should be manageable.

Without an awareness of the risks, it will be a very dangerous global market.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20100301/OEM01/303019980/-1#ixzz0gw3JKlLX

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Huh? The problem isn't a global car, it's a blatant disregard for safety applied globally to cars. Who else is having major global recalls? No one (for now). And how many companies have global cars? Yeah, Toyota isn't alone in that.

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Step one is admitting you have a problem.

The gas pedal problem has been evident since 2004 and Toyota is just now getting around to admitting it.....the real problem isn't with the gas pedals/floormats/ECM! The problem is Toyota's inability to admit that they too can have flaws in cars.

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Yes, one (probably the major one) problem is a disregard for issues with your products. Toyota avoided the situation aided by the US government's pro-business mindset in the last administration.

But to the point of the article, when you have a "global" product, you increase the chances of one little problem affecting millions of vehicles across all regions. When you narrow the suppliers to one or two because of economies of scale, the exact same part moves around the world, where when regional suppliers were used (back when regional suppliers EXISTED), Supplier A's part didn't affect Supplier B and Supplier C's parts.

And no, Toyota isn't alone. Remember when the Japanese manufacturers (about a decade ago) had a massive recall of seat belts because of a supplier (Takata)? Remember when Ford hid the problems with cruise controls for years before having a massive recall on just about everything from Tempos to Econolines? And there are stories coming out Ford has another issue bubbling up.

Toyota's not alone. They're just the first shoe to fall...and a big one at that.

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Ford's cruise control debacle was global? I wasn't aware it affected anything outside of NA. What's their new potential issue?

Let me put it this way: just about every car released gets some kind of recall in the first year or two. That's just the nature of the beast.

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