Toyota has recalled its newest electric vehicles because the wheels can literally fall off in what one commentator says is a symptom of what’s wrong with the electric vehicle market.
The company announced that 2,700 of its new electric bZ4X SUVs are a danger to their drivers, with only 260 to date having been delivered in the United States.
“After low-mileage use, all of the hub bolts on the wheel can loosen to the point where the wheel can detach from the vehicle,” Toyota said in a June 23 statement on its website.
“If a wheel detaches from the vehicle while driving, it could result in a loss of vehicle control, increasing the risk of a crash,” the company said.
“The cause of the issue and the driving patterns under which this issue could occur are still under investigation. No one should drive these vehicles until the remedy is performed,” Toyota said.
Owners of the vehicle, whose price starts at $43,215, might not be getting it back any time soon.
“No remedy is available at this time,” Toyota said in its release.
“Until the remedy is available, any authorized Toyota dealer will pick up the vehicle and provide a loaner vehicle FREE OF CHARGE to the owner,” it said.
In a Wednesday column for Bloomberg, Anjani Trivedi, who covers industrial companies in Asia, wrote, “If that’s the level of quality and safety traditional auto giants are willing to commit to, then investors and regulators should increase their scrutiny.”
Trivedi noted that Subaru, which developed its Solterra electric vehicle jointly with Toyota, has also pulled that vehicle, which has not yet made it to the American market.
She said she expected that “as more are made, more problems are bound to crop up. In the past two years alone, there have been thousands of recalls, costing billions of dollars.”
Trivedi said EV buyers should be alarmed at what is taking place.
“The issue is, these aren’t just any recalls: These are serious and, most worryingly, basic problems — an engine combusting, a tire rolling off. Manufacturers say they are remedying the issue, but then what?” she wrote.
“Even though there aren’t many of these vehicles being produced right now, and there have, so far, been limited injuries, the fact that these cars could actually be on the road — and trusted because they are made by a large, well-established company — should raise alarm,” Trivedi said.
The bZ4X debuted in Japan last month, according to CNBC.
Last December, the company’s president, Akio Toyoda, said Toyota planned “to roll out 30 BEV models by 2030.”
“Toyota has been under pressure to up its game in EVs, so will be very disappointed that a recall has been necessary on its first mass-market electric cars,” David Leggett, automotive editor at GlobalData, told CNBC.
UPDATE, July 29, 2022: Online insurance broker AutoInsuranceEZ.com researched auto fires by type of car using data from the National Transportation Safety Board, Bureau of Transportation Statistics and Recalls.gov and concluded “that despite the focus on EV fires in the news, they are not inherently more dangerous than gas or hybrid vehicles, although electric fires tend to be more difficult than gas fires to extinguish.”
Perhaps more importantly, the independent, nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute in a study of “electric and conventional versions of nine models from 2011 to 2019” concluded that electric vehicles may be considered significantly safer than similar conventional models because “rates of injury claims related to the drivers and passengers of electric vehicles were more than 40 percent lower than for identical conventional models over 2011-19. This result is similar to an earlier HLDI study of hybrid vehicles, and one likely explanation is that the large batteries used in both types of vehicles make them substantially heavier than their conventional counterparts. Occupants of heavier vehicles are exposed to lower forces in multivehicle crashes.”
The Western Journal is adding this information to this story as important context regarding the safety of electric vehicles in general.
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