Toyota and Subaru Recalling EVs Over Loose Wheels

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Toyota and Subaru are recalling their new all-electric models, though EV fans will be pleased to know that the issue has nothing to do with the battery packs. Instead, the affected vehicles run the risk of losing their wheels under sudden braking or sharp turns — which I suppose isn’t much of an improvement over the possibility of an electrical fire.

The good news is that the problem is limited almost entirely to demo models of the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra the companies wanted to use for promotional purposes. While they may eventually have found their way into residential garages, the original intent was to have them attend trade events and serve as test models on dealership lots. That’s likely to remain the plan, too. But only after the automakers comply with the demands of Japanese regulators. 

While Toyota has said that not every bZ4X produced was impacted by the recall, it also hasn’t confirmed how many have been manufactured thus far. Automotive News shared that Japan had identified 2,700 units (2,200 that were headed for Europe, 260 for the United States, 20 for Canada, and 110 that would have stayed on the home islands) that it felt needed to be fixed. However, it wasn’t the Japanese transportation ministry that initiated the recall. According to reports, Toyota was actually the one that found the problem and notified the authorities.

The company was also highly apologetic in a related press and exceptionally Japanese press release. Toyota said it regretted any inconvenience caused by the situation and said it would repair the vehicles after it had conducted an internal investigation.

Japanese safety regulators believe the issue stems from a loosening hub bolt. If subjected to sharp turns and sudden braking (see: regular driving) the vehicles may lose a wheel in the process. However, the transport ministry said it wasn’t aware of any accidents caused by the defect, which makes sense considering the cars never made it out of the country.

Subaru had 2,600 units of the Solterra (the bZ4X’s sister car) placed under recall for the very same reason.

From Automotive News:

For Subaru, most of the vehicles were for dealers and none were delivered to customers in the U.S., a Subaru spokesperson said.

The recall comes less than two months after Toyota, a relative latecomer to the EV market, rolled out the electric crossover to the domestic market as a lease-only option.

Toyota has been criticized by some investors and environmental organizations for not acting quickly enough to phase out gasoline-powered cars and embrace EVs instead.

Toyota has repeatedly pushed back against the criticism, arguing the necessity to offer a variety of powertrains to suit different markets and customers.

Hybrid models remain far more popular in Toyota’s home market than EVs, which accounted for just 1 percent of the passenger cars sold in Japan last year, based on industry data.

The recalls are unlikely to help turn the tide and make battery-only vehicles more appetizing to Japanese consumers. It’s also interesting to see the breakdown of where demo bZ4X models were heading to begin with. The overwhelming majority were scheduled to arrive in Europe with the remaining 19 percent being split between Japan and North America. The United States and Canada have a combined population of 368 million, whereas Japan is estimated to have roughly 125 million residents. That’s over half of the population of Europe, despite the vast majority of Toyota’s EVs being slated for demos in the EU.

[Image: Toyota Motor Corp]

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