Toyota has resumed sales of the 2010 Lexus GX 460 luxury SUV. The vehicle had been pulled from showrooms earlier this month due to problems with its stability control system which were revealed in dramatic fashion by Consumer Reports. A lurid video accompanied the group's 'do not buy' warning, one which showed the 2010 Lexus GX 460 coming dangerously close to tipping over at high speeds on a test track.
Lexus has managed to update the stability control software in each brand new 2010 Lexus GX 460, making them safe for sale once again. At the heart of the problem was the method with which the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) program handled the weight distribution of the SUV. The automaker had already initiated a recall of the fewer than 10,000 versions of this premium sport-utility vehicle that had made it into the hands of customers. Lexus states that within a week all of its dealerships will be able to implement the software changes that take care of the stability control bug, and that concerned owners may drop their Lexus GX 460 vehicles off and take advantage of a free loaner until the fix has been performed.
The issue with the 2010 Lexus GX 460 underscores a growing concern both within Toyota and the U.S. government concerning how quality issues are reported. There are those on each side of the table who feel that car companies are in some instances delaying the notification of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) past the window in which they are legally required to do so. Part of this problem is seen as being related to the closeness that exists between regulatory agencies and private companies, due to the cross-pollination of personnel who move back and forth between the two spheres.
The American government is currently pondering legislation that would restrict former NHTSA employees from working at a car company in a position that would see them interacting with the Administration for at least three years. A series of fines targeted at both the individuals and the companies themselves would serve as the teeth behind this anti-fraternization measure.
Internally, Toyota has formed a 'quality panel' which consists of six executives sourced from both inside and outside the automotive industry. The group is charged with evaluating the company's efforts at dealing with its persistent safety issues and lack of transparency, and is considered autonomous from Toyota management.