Detroit Bureau on Twitter

Korean Hyundai Recalling New Sonata

Defective door latches recalled as American launch ramps up.

by on Feb.24, 2010

The 2011 Hyundai Sonata is now subject to a safety recall for defective doors.

Hyundai Motor has issued a recall for about 46,000 of the new, 2011 Sonata in the largely closed South Korean market, though a small number of the sedans will also be impacted here in the U.S.

The Korean company had seemingly overcome its dismal quality reputation caused by the original models sold in the U.S. two decades ago with clever marketing and one of the best warranties in the business.

The company had hoped to increase its U.S. market share  primarily from sales of the new Sonata, which accounts for almost 40% if sales here. How much of a setback this is remains to be seen.

In a statement, Hyundai Motor said that it has “discovered a mechanical problem with its front door latches which, in very rare instances, will not close properly.”

Apparently, 1,300 of the defective Sonata models now in customer service in the United States would also be recalled.

In total, about 5,000 model year 2011 Sonatas, produced from  December 11, 2009 until February 15, 2010 in a non-union assembly plant in Alabama are affected.

In Korea, Hyundai claimed the recall, which will begin sometime in March, was caused by a “handful” of customer complaints.

Hyundai also says that there have been no reports of accidents or injuries because of the safety defect.

However, U.S. representatives of Hyundai were unable to respond immediately to requests for more information.  

The fact that the recall is being handled out of Korea, rather than the United States, will raise some concerns, especially in light of the ongoing Toyota safety scandal where recall decisions were made in Japan as American executives and customers were kept in the dark.

Toyota, of course, has now recalled more than eight million vehicles globally in recent months for problems including floor mats that “entrap” the accelerator pedal, and for sticky accelerator pedals, as well as problems with the 2010 Prius hybrid’s brakes, among other ongoing safety and quality issues. At least 34 deaths in Toyota products are now under investigation.

In sworn testimony yesterday in front of a Congressional sub-committee, Jim Lentz, the head of Toyota in the U.S. , admitted that he was unaware of the safety recall procedures in use at Toyota globally. The flow of information was one way – from the U.S. to Japan, said Lentz. The Japanese in Toyota’s home office  did not share information gathered from Toyota’s global operations about defects with Toyota in the  U.S. or its American consumers or with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Akio Toyoda, the head of Toyota Motor Corporation,  is due to testify today in front of what will be a skeptical and potentially hostile  House Oversight and Government Reform Committee of the U.S. Congress.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.