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Auto blogThu, 12 Jun 2014 14:00:00 EST
It appears that Toyota's renotification to owners of recalled vehicles from last year is just the tip of the iceberg for what could potentially be a much larger industry-wide recall. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is opening a preliminary evaluation investigation into roughly 1.1 million vehicles from Chrysler, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota and parts supplier Takata regarding faulty airbag inflators in several models.
NHTSA has received six reports - three directly, two from Takata and one from Toyota - of vehicles with ruptured airbag inflators from 2002-2006, which resulted in three injuries. So far, all six incidents have occurred in high humidity areas like Florida and Puerto Rico. According to Toyota's latest recall announcement, the inflators may have an improper propellant that could cause it to rupture in a crash and the bag to deploy abnormally.
This new investigation follows a previous recall from April 2013 of about 3.4 million vehicles worldwide for the airbag inflators from Takata. As Autoblog reported, Toyota jumpstarted the new situation when it found that the original list of serial numbers for the faulty part was incomplete and discovered more cars in need of replacement. Honda and Nissan told us that they were investigating whether further models would need called in again as well. Mazda told Autoblog: "Regarding the current Takata situation, we're working closely with NHTSA and investigating the situation, but nothing else to report at this time." Chrysler Group responded to us with the statement: "Chrysler Group engineers are conducting the appropriate analysis. The Company will cooperate fully with the National Highway Traffic Administration."
Hurricane Sandy was the largest Atlantic storm in US history, and its total economic impact is just now coming into view. According to Automotive News, Toyota, Chrysler, Nissan and Honda are set to scrap around 15,000 new vehicles ruined by the storm. Nissan alone accounts for about 40 percent of those, with 6,000 Nissan and Infiniti models deeded "un-saleable" due to damage. The company saw 56 dealerships shuttered due to the storm, but 51 of those have since reopened.
Toyota, meanwhile, had some 4,000 vehicles at its Newark port facility, and of those, 3,000 may be scrapped. An additional 825 were dealer inventory when they were ruined. Honda and Acura dealers are reportedly sending 3,440 vehicles to the salvage yard. By comparison, Chrysler weathered the storm fairly well with 825 units destroyed, while Hyundai suffered only 400 lost units and Kia scrapped around 200.
As you may recall, Fisker also suffered some losses, and Automotive News reports the manufacturer saw 320 Karma models damaged beyond repair. Ford and General Motors have yet to come up with estimates, and no automaker has commented on the full cost of replacing the vehicles.
If you're in the market for a new electric vehicle, now is definitely the time to buy or lease. Following price drops on just about every other EV on the market, Toyota is looking to push a few more all-electric RAV4 crossovers out the door over the Labor Day weekend. The Detroit News is reporting that, through September 3, anyone looking to get into a RAV4 EV in Los Angeles or San Francisco, can get a deal: a $299 a month lease (no word on down payment, though) or zero-percent financing for 60 months for buyers.
The $49,800 RAV4 EV normally leases for twice as much - $599 a month - so this move could be an attempt to sell more of the 2,600 units Toyota has planned to produce. Or maybe, if you thought $599 was a fair price, you can now get two RAV4 Evs. Although temporary, the price drop comes at a time when many other EVs on the market have had their prices reduced, including the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, Smart Fortwo ED and Honda Fit EV, not to mention already low prices for the Fiat 500e and Chevy Spark EV.
*Note: 2012 RAV4 EV pictured here