Avoiding total recall

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Avoiding total recall

It’s fortunate that Hyundai Motor made the decision to recall 139,500 units of its new YF Sonata model, which is manufactured and sold in the United States.

Consumers fork over a ton of money for cars, so they of course have the right to demand that the vehicles they purchase are free of mechanical or electrical defects. If a systemic problem is found, the best policy for an automaker in terms of crisis management is to quickly admit the fault and rectify the situation as soon as possible.

The latest recall involves a flaw tied to the car’s steering system, an important part of a vehicle when it comes to safety. Hyundai Motor explained that the problem resulted from a loose or separated joint that connects the steering wheel with the steering shaft. Given that the problem could cause a huge accident at any time, the company’s swift reaction is appropriate.

But there are some larger concerns with the latest incident.

We are deeply worried because it is the second recall involving Hyundai Motor’s YF Sonata. The company already recalled 40,000 units of the new model in the U.S. last January because of critical flaws involving its door-lock system. Recalls have become all too common for Hyundai and Kia this year. Kia issued recalls covering several models - including the Morning and Soul - after it discovered fissures and defective electrical welding in the fuel intake section of the vehicles.

Hyundai and Kia Motors are among the leading carmakers in the world. They are in fact the only companies in the industry that increased sales overseas since the outbreak of the global financial crisis. But we worry that the growing number of recalls might be in some way related to this rapid increase in sales. Such was the case for Toyota Motor, which fell behind in the areas of quality control and field supervision as its ramped up production quickly rose to meet foreign demand.

Hyundai Motor might be facing a similar problem, at least in regards to its new Sonata model.

This could be just the start of the issue, too, considering that Hyundai and Kia are planning to increase production to 7 million cars annually by 2012.

The companies should therefore pay extra close attention to their quality management systems before they fall victim to such problems. They should be ready to fix production problems and seal holes in the process as they crop up. We also hope Hyundai will make sure that there are no deficiencies in the same models sold here. Domestic consumers are increasingly worried about the safety of their cars, too.

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