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Thursday, October 1st, 2009
Toyota issued a recall, instructing 3.8 million vehicle owners to take the floor mats out of their cars, trucks and SUVs.

Offcially that is a recall, but it’s more of an act out of Responsible Concern for Human Safety and a Positive for the Toyota Brand.

“Sudden Acceleration” is the reason. It turns out there have been a few cases of people suddenly accelerating out of control with some fatal consequences because the mat got caught up in the accelerator pedal.

“Sudden Acceleration” is a scary terrible phrase in the auto industry. Worse than “gas taxes” to American drivers. Or “Death panels” to people in the health care reform debate.

Audi took a beating in the late 1980s and 90s after CBS’s Sixty Minutes gave a spotlight to some trial lawyers whose clients had claimed “sudden acceleration” was to blame for some accidents. Audi issued denials. But the story dragged on. Investigations were done. But there was never any finding that a design or engineering flaw in an Audi was to blame. Yet, enormous damage was done to Audi sales and the brand. It has only been in the last five years or so that people have let the false charges of sudden acceleration drift into the archives of their memories.

Today, Audi vehicles are world class competitors to Mercedes, BMW and Lexus worldwide.

The last thing the company needed to do in this sales challenged economy was deny any responsibility. And easy for them, all they have to do is tell the owners to take the factory issued mats out of the vehicles.

Most People have to straighten out the mats in their cars from time to time because they ride up into the pedal area. It’s common sense. But assuming common sense is wide spread is a dangerous thing to do.

Now, the search goes on to see what company has the smartest mat design that prevents the problem. Then, let every automaker copy that good design, eh?

Any suggestions?

Excerpts from David Kiley