It’s a fact of life: mechanical stuff breaks. Recalls happen to pretty much every car company from time to time. But you don’t always have a company come right out and tell their customers not to drive their cars. But that’s the lengths Subaru has gone to in the wake of its recent recall crisis.
According to Associated Press reports, Subaru is telling owners of some late model Legacy and Outback vehicles not to get behind the wheel at all…because the steering may fail. The automaker is recalling more than 50,000 vehicles from the 2016 and 2017 model years. Roughly half of those were sold in the United States.
If the improperly manufactured parts fail, steering columns may not engage with the balance of the steering system. This could cause the wheel to “rotate freely and the driver to lose control of the ability to steer the vehicle”.
This issue was discovered on May 3, and the company reacted quickly, sending out an immediate recall on the vehicles in question. In this, they acted with professional courtesy and smart business sense.
GM is still reeling from their PR issues stemming from delaying a recall, and other automakers are feeling the sting of negative consumer public relations due to violations of customer trust.
While the potential for damage and death with this sort of mechanical issue is high, because the company acted quickly, that should mitigate any long-term adverse consumer reaction.
The real difficulty Subaru will have in this situation will be maintaining its position in the American market and continuing its hopeful climb into contention with top of the heap import rivals Toyota and Honda.
The timing couldn’t be worse for Subaru, because not only are they trying to erase the gap between their brand and these two brands, but fellow Korean automaker Hyundai is coming up on the outside, selling well and gaining fans fast, and Nissan is holding its own. While Toyota and Honda have had their own recall issues recently, Hyundai is growing in customer satisfaction and quality surveys. So, the competition is heating up in a race where Subaru was already at a disadvantage in the U.S. market.
Subaru must put this recall behind them quickly if they are to regain and maintain their reputation for reliability and long lasting cars.
Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations. 5WPR is headquartered in NY with offices in Los Angeles and Denver.