Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp has halted sales and deliveries of its Yaris Ativ model in Thailand following revelations that part of the door was rigged in side-collision safety tests. Toyota’s CEO for the Asia region, Masahiko Maeda, stated that the problem might have arisen due to pressure during the development of the Ativ model, although vehicles being used by customers are safe.
The company is working with the Thai government to resume sales of the model. Daihatsu, Toyota’s affiliate, and the Japanese company disclosed last month that they were investigating how part of the door in side-collision safety tests for some 88,000 small cars had been changed. Daihatsu said that approximately 76,000 of those vehicles were Yaris Activs, mainly bound for Thailand, Mexico, and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The Yaris Ativ model has been produced since 2017 in a joint venture between Toyota and Daihatsu, which became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Toyota in 2016. Southeast Asia is a significant market for Daihatsu, which has production facilities in Indonesia and Malaysia. Thailand is Toyota’s fourth-largest global center by production volume, after Japan, the US, and China, with 659,000 vehicles produced in the country last year, including models of its luxury brand, Lexus.
Toyota’s Chairman, Akio Toyoda, visited the company’s Gateway plant in Chachoengsao province for the first time in a decade to reassure workers, stating that he had come to Thailand because he loved the country. Toyoda has a personal attachment to Thailand, describing it as his “home away from home.”
Toyota has had a tumultuous history, with a string of massive recalls that prompted US investigations and forced Toyoda to testify before Congress in 2010. However, the company has taken several steps to improve safety measures and prevent future incidents, such as investing in artificial intelligence to improve vehicle safety and developing a new global architecture for its cars.
The suspension of sales for the Yaris Ativ model comes as a blow to Toyota, which has enjoyed steady sales growth in Thailand over the years. Nevertheless, Toyota has demonstrated its commitment to resolving the issue and working closely with the Thai government to resume sales of the Yaris Ativ model.
The safety of vehicles has become an increasingly important issue for automakers, with safety concerns influencing consumer behavior and impacting sales. Automakers, including Toyota, are investing heavily in safety technology and features to improve vehicle safety and regain consumer confidence. In addition to safety concerns, automakers are also facing increased pressure to develop environmentally friendly cars as part of efforts to combat climate change.
Toyota has made significant strides in this area, with the launch of the Toyota Mirai, a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle that emits only water, and the Toyota Prius, a hybrid car that is one of the most fuel-efficient cars on the market. The company has also committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, with plans to launch 15 new battery-electric vehicles by 2025.